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NASA: Cassini Spacecraft Photographs Earth in Between Saturn's Rings Before Its Grand Finale 'Death Dive'

Apr 24, 2017 05:46 AM EDT
Cassini Probe Sends Pictures Of Saturn
The planet Earth was photographed from Saturn where it is just a point of light in between Saturn's rings. Cassini spacecraft captured the image which also shows the moon.
(Photo : NASA/Getty Images)

NASA Cassini spacecraft is about to embark on the most crucial part of its mission, the grand finale "death dive" where it will plunge to its demise, but not before beaming to Earth some amazing photographs of our home planet taken from space.

Before the finale, Cassini managed to take some interesting images including an image of Earth from space. Specifically, a photograph of Earth in between Saturn's rings taken by the strategically placed Cassini spacecraft. It is considered as one of best Earth views taken from outer space.

"NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured this view of the planet Earth as a point of light between the icy rings of Saturn on April 12, 2017," a NASA official said.

In the photograph, Earth is just a point of light between Saturn's icy rings. Cassini was about 870 million miles (1.4 billion kilometers) away from the planet when the image was taken last April 12 at 10:41 p.m. EDT. According to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the part of the planet facing the spacecraft at that time is the southern Atlantic Ocean.

Aside from planet Earth, the spacecraft also photographed the moon. The even smaller point of light is visible to the left of the Earth in the image. Both bodies were photographed in between Saturn's A ring on top and the F ring at the bottom. Meanwhile, Keeler and Encke's gaps were also visible in the image. Cassini was looking at the backlit rings and producing a mosaic of multiple images when the stunning photograph was taken.

This made Cassini's grand finale death dive more special since images like this is considered rare during the entirety of its mission. Saturn's F ring also appears bright from this view.

Cassini has been investigating Saturn, its rings and its moons since 2004, according to a report. This week, on April 26, Cassini will initiate its Grand Finale death dive composed of 22 plunges through the gap between Saturn's rings.

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