Earth Through The Rings Of Saturn

Posted: Apr 21 2017, 11:00pm CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Earth Through the Rings of Saturn
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's Cassini spaceraft captures the image of Earth between Saturn's rings

At first glance, it looks like a mere white dot, but it is actually an image of the Earth in between the icy rings of Saturn.

The stunning image was taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on April 12 and reveals what Earth looks like from space. Cassini was about 870 million miles away from the Earth when the image was taken.

“Although far too small to be visible in the image, the part of Earth facing Cassini at the time was the southern Atlantic Ocean.” NASA statement reads.

In the image, A and F rings of the Saturn are visible while the Earth is seen through the Encke and Keeler gaps. Encke gap is created by the presence of Saturn’s moon Pan and Keeler gap is maintained by moon Daphnis. The view looks toward the backlit side of the rings as sun was blocked by the disk of Saturn.

Saturn has most extensive and fascinating ring system than any of the planet in solar system. The planet is thoroughly studied by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft since its arrival in 2004.

Currently, Cassini is getting ready for its final close flyby of Saturn’s moon Titan. The flyby will mark the end of the Ring-Grazing orbits and the beginning of the spacecraft’s final act, called Grand Finale. Grand finale is a set of final 22 plunges during which the spacecraft will repeatedly dive through the narrow gaps between the Saturn and its rings.

These are the regions that have never been explored by any spacecraft. So, Cassini researchers are hoping to gain powerful insights into the planet's internal structure and the origins of the rings through these dives. During this phase, Cassini will also obtain the first-ever sampling of Saturn's atmosphere and particles coming from the main rings as well as the closest-ever views of Saturn's clouds and inner rings.

The spacecraft will eventually destroy itself by diving into the planet’s atmosphere in September 15.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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