Humans sometimes look up at the night sky and gaze at Saturn shining in the distance, but what is the view the other way around? Now we know.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured an image of Earth through the rings of Saturn, showing us just how small we are in the scheme of the solar system — not to mention the universe — but also how far we can reach.
According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Cassini snapped the photo on April 12 from 870 million miles from Earth. JPL said at the time the image was taken, the southern Atlantic Ocean was facing the lens. If you look closely, well you can’t see the ocean, but you can see Earth’s closest friend, the Moon, hanging out nearby.
Cassini has taken thousands of photos of Saturn and its moons — including Atlas, which looks a lot like an alien saucer — but is in its last few months of service for NASA, what officials are calling its “Grand Finale.” Later this year, right before it runs out of fuel, the space agency will send it on a great plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere to burn up dramatically, a fiery send-off for a spacecraft that has sent back a ton of information about our solar system. One of its more recent findings has given scientists new hope there could be life on Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus.
This weekend Cassini is headed for its final close flyby of another moon, Titan, with a goal of getting “detailed images of the surface.”