Earth seen between Saturn’s rings
A recent snapshot digitally transmitted from Cassini revealed a view of Earth from the perspective of Saturn’s icy rings.
The signal traversed a distance of 1.4 billion kilometers (about 870 million miles) and was received at 1:41 a.m. EDT (05:41 GMT) April 13, 2017, revealing a delicate pinpoint of light: Earth. The Moon is also detectable in a cropped and magnified version of the image.
The spacecraft is approaching its Sept. 15, 2017, end date. During this “Grand Finale”, Cassini will make 22 dives between Saturn and its rings. On April 22, the 20-year-old orbiter flew by the moon Titan for the final time, changing the craft’s trajectory to allow for these ring-grazing plunges and guaranteeing a collision with Saturn some 4.5 months from now.
Mission controllers are ending the seven-year tour of the ringed world because the spacecraft is low on fuel. In a bid to avoid any unintentional collision with one of Saturn’s potentially habitable moons, Titan and Enceladus, the spacecraft is on a course to enter Saturn’s atmosphere and burn up over its cloud tops. It will transmit data until it is no longer capable.
The Cassini-Huygens mission launched atop a Titan IVB rocket toward the ringed world on Oct. 15, 1997. It took nearly seven years to arrive at Saturn, finally doing so in 2004.
The mission is a cooperative effort between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency. The Cassini orbiter hardware was designed, developed, and produced by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Jerome Strach has worked within the Silicon Valley community for 20 years including software entertainment and film. Along with experience in software engineering, quality assurance, and middle management, he has long been a fan of aerospace and entities within that industry. A voracious reader, a model builder, and student of photography and flight training, most of his spare time can be found focused on launch events and technology advancements including custom mobile app development. Best memory as a child is building and flying Estes rockets with my father. @Romn8tr