NASA’s Cassini to photograph Earth from Saturn
On July 19, 2013 NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will be taking the first-ever natural-colour image of the Earth as seen from the Saturn system, from 1.44 billion kilometres away. The US space agency is inviting the public to help recognize the historic interplanetary picture as it is being taken. The Earth will look like a small, pale blue dot b/w the rings of Saturn, will be part of a mosaic, or multi-image portrait, of the Saturn system Cassini is composing.
- Launched in 1997, it is fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter orbit, and its mission is ongoing as of 2013.
- The Robotic spacecraft includes a Saturn orbiter and an atmospheric probe/lander called Huygens for the Saturn’s moon Titan which entered and landed on Titan in 2005.
- Studying the Saturn and its many natural satellites since arriving there in 2004, also observing Jupiter, the Heliosphere, and testing the theory of relativity.
- Fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter orbit, and its mission is ongoing as of 2013.
- Sixteen European countries and the United States make up the team responsible for designing, building, flying and collecting data from the Cassini orbiter and Huygens probe.
- Managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the United States.
- Huygens was developed by the European Space Research and Technology Centre.
- In 2008, NASA announced a two-year extension of the funding for ground operations of this mission, at which point it was renamed to the Cassini Equinox Mission.
- Extended again in 2010 with the Cassini Solstice Mission continuing until 2017.
- Mission to end in 2017 by controlled fall into Saturn’s atmosphere.