NASA's Cassini spacecraft, which is currently dipping through Saturn's rings in its final days exploring the planet, captured an image of Earth (and its moon) seen as tiny points of light between Saturn's rings.
Shot from 1.4 billion kilometres away from Earth on April 12, the view from Saturn puts our water planet into perspective. Though too far away to see in the image, the southern Atlantic ocean faces Saturn in the photographs.
The moon can be seen as a much fainter dot, suspended near the Earth in a zoomed-in version of the image.
SPACECRAFT'S FINAL MISSION WILL GET CLOSEST LOOK AT SATURN EVER Dec. 2, 2016 - Soon we'll be able to see the rings of Saturn in more detail than ever. The spacecraft Cassini is starting its final mission as it approaches the ringed planet, after launching into space nearly two decades ago. The spacecraft entered Saturn’s orbit in 2004, and captured images of two previously undiscovered moons. In September 2017, Cassini will ultimately enter the gaseous upper atmosphere of Saturn itself, where it will burn up. The Cassini orbiter is part of a joint mission between NASA and the European Space Agency. CAPTION: The Cassini spacecraft will fly close to Saturn’s rings, and then enter the planet's gaseous atmosphere.
Pictures of Earth from Space
Over the years, many other spacecraft have endeavoured to capture the otherworldly sight of the Earth and moon together.
Astronauts on the moon and on the International Space Station have the unique perspective of seeing one appear to rise behind the other with Earthrises and moonrises.
Other spacecraft, when pointed toward Earth, have captured incredible views: Earth behind Saturn’s rings and pictured at many angles in clear detail, with the moon at its side.
Taking photographs of the Earth and moon together, from different perspectives, can help expose details not commonly seen, such as the makeup of the far side of the moon, only known since the beginning of the space age.
In the coming months, Cassini will continue to orbit Saturn's rings and the HiRISE, which has been photographing the Earth from Mars, will keep going on its route around the red planet. These and other spacecraft will continue to provide a second look at the Earth.
This cropped, zoomed-in version of the image makes it easier to see Earth's moon–a smaller, fuzzier dot to the left of Earth's brighter dot.
NASA/JPL-CALTECH/SPACE SCIENCE INSTITUTE
In this image taken in November 2016 from 127 million miles away by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Earth and the moon are pictured together.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UNIV. OF ARIZONA
This photo was the world's first view of Earth taken near the moon. It was snapped by the U.S. Lunar Orbiter I on August 23, 1966, when the spacecraft was just about to pass behind the moon on its 16th orbit.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY NASA
In this rare image taken by the wide-angle camera of NASA's Cassini spacecraft on July 19, 2013, Earth and its moon are pictured with Saturn's rings in the foreground (Earth is denoted with an arrow).
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY NASA/JPL/SSI
In this photograph taken during the second successful mission to land on the moon, Apollo 12 astronauts captured the mystical scene of an Earthrise.
PHOTO COURTESY NASA/JSC
The Galileo spacecraft, the first to visit an asteroid and to thoroughly document Jupiter's moons, captured this composite view of Earth and its moon on December 16, 1992, 3.9 million miles from Earth.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY NASA/JPL
The full moon appears to sink into Earth's atmosphere in a November 2013 photograph from the International Space Station. The bottom of the moon seems distorted because its light is being refracted by Earth's atmospheric layers.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY NASA
This photograph was taken from the Cassini spacecraft, nearly one million miles away, shows the bright spot of the Earth and its Moon orbiting around their Sun.
PHOTO COURTESY NASA
The far side of the moon, never seen from Earth, passes between NOAA's DSCOVR satellite and Earth in a "lunar photobomb."
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY NASA/NOAA
Header Image: Earth can be seen as a point of light between Saturn's icy rings in this photo taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY NASA/JPL-CALTECH/SPACE SCIENCE INSTITUTE