Skip to content

Say cheese! NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is taking your picture


PASADENA, Calif. — Scientists at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory want everyone on Earth to pose for a picture today, even though nobody will actually be seen in it.

Shortly before 2:30 p.m., NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will snap a photo of Earth as it appears between the rings of Saturn, from a distance of 898 million miles.

Although Earth will only appear as a small blue dot in the image, project managers hope people will acknowledge their picture being taken from such a great distance and grasp what our planet looks like from Saturn.

“We hope you’ll join us in waving at Saturn from Earth, so we can commemorate this special opportunity,” said Linda Spiker, Cassini project manager at JPL in Pasadena.

So beginning at 2:27 p.m., NASA officials would like everyone to look up and give a wave. The photo is expected to take about 15 minutes to snap.

Griffith Observatory officials will host a “Saturn Wave” event on the observatory’s front lawn in Griffith Park beginning at 2:20 p.m., followed by a theater presentation on discoveries made by the Cassini spacecraft.

When the photo is taken, Saturn will be eclipsing the sun from Cassini’s perspective, and North America and part of the Atlantic Ocean will be bathed in sunlight.

According to NASA, the photo will be the first that will capture Earth in its natural color, as human eyes would see it from Saturn — unlike previous images taken by Cassini in 2006 and 2012. It will also be the first to capture the Earth and the moon.

“Ever since we caught sight of the Earth among the rings of Saturn in September 2006 in a mosaic that has become one of Cassini’s most beloved images, I have wanted to do it all over again, only better,” according to Carolyn Porco, head of the Cassini imaging team at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

“This time, I wanted to turn the entire event into an opportunity for everyone around the globe to savor the uniqueness of our planet and the preciousness of the life on it.”