Wednesday, September 20, 2006
That's OUR pale blue dot
Carl Sagan coined the term "Pale Blue Dot" for our world, and the iconic image is Earth rise over the Moon taken by the Apollo astronauts. For the first time we had an true grasp of our worlds place in space. Since then, it has been almost been de rigeur for spacecraft to take snapshots of Earth on their way into space. However this one takes the cake.
This natural colour image is from Cassini, with Saturn blocking the Sun. The bright dot about 25% of the way into the image on the right is Earth (enlarged in the inset). See here for the full story and hig res images. Yes, that bulge on the enlarged image is the Moon. If you are going to be put in your cosmic place, the rings of Saturn are just the things to do it.
The dim dot entangled in a ring 75% of the image width from the right is Enceladus. For a truly stunning high resolution image and more information see here. With the occultation, faint elements of the rings were able to be imaged for the fist time, the Enceladus image shows jets of material shooting from the poles and strange wispy structures entagling the Moon in the ring. Still more pictures and information are here.
Hat tip to Nick Matzke at PT and Chris Lawson at Talking Squid.