August 21, 2013
NASA Releases ‘Wave At Saturn’ Collage From Cassini Photo Shoot
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
NASA released a collage assembled from images taken on July 19, 2013 as part of the "Wave at Saturn" event organized by the space agency's Cassini mission.
In July, the Cassini spacecraft snapped an image of Earth from 900 million miles away as part of a larger set of images it was collecting of the Saturn system it is orbiting. NASA let the public know that its spacecraft would be taking the image, and started an event asking the public to go outside and wave in the direction of Saturn in the afternoon while the picture was being taken.
NASA said more than 1,400 images of people from all over the world were turned in to the space agency as part of the event. The mission assembled the collage from those images, which came from 40 countries and 30 US states, sent through Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Google+ and email.
"Thanks to all of you, near and far, old and young, who joined the Cassini mission in marking the first time inhabitants of Earth had advance notice that our picture was being taken from interplanetary distances," said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "While Earth is too small in the images Cassini obtained to distinguish any individual human beings, the mission has put together this collage so that we can celebrate all your waving hands, uplifted paws, smiling faces and artwork."
Scientists are still putting together the color mosaic of the Saturn system Cassini took in July, which NASA said it expects could take at least several more weeks to complete. Scientists who study Saturn's rings are looking through visible-light and infrared data obtained during the campaign to stitch the images together.
The Earth will only be about a pixel in size from Cassini's vantage point at 898 million miles away. This isn't the first image of Earth taken by Cassini, but it is the first time Earthlings were warned ahead of time that their photo would be taken. The spacecraft snapped photos of Earth in 2006 and in 2012, but this was the first time the orbiter captured the Earth in its natural color.
“Looking back towards the sun through the rings highlights the tiniest of ring particles, whose width is comparable to the thickness of hair and which are difficult to see from ground-based telescopes,” Matt Hedman, a Cassini science team member based at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, said before Cassini snapped its images last month. “We’re particularly interested in seeing the structures within Saturn’s dusty E ring, which is sculpted by the activity of the geysers on the moon Enceladus, Saturn’s magnetic field and even solar radiation pressure.”