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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cassini's Pale Dot

In 1990 Voyager 1 took the original Pale Blue Dot photograph. See details at this post.

Here is Cassini's version of the Pale Blue Dot. If you look carefully the dot can be seen above the centre of the photo, just outside Saturn's main rings.

That dot is Earth.




Here is a link to a larger and clearer version of the photograph.

The explanation for Saturn's unusual colouring in the photograph is that the photo was created from 165 photos taken by Cassini when it was in the shadow of Saturn (ie Saturn was blocking out the glare of the sun).

Details can be found here and here.

As noted at the second link:

With giant Saturn hanging in the blackness and sheltering Cassini from the sun's blinding glare, the spacecraft viewed the rings as never before, revealing previously unknown faint rings and even glimpsing its home world.

This marvelous panoramic view was created by combining a total of 165 images taken by the Cassini wide-angle camera over nearly three hours on Sept. 15, 2006. The full mosaic consists of three rows of nine wide-angle camera footprints; only a portion of the full mosaic is shown here. Color in the view was created by digitally compositing ultraviolet, infrared and clear filter images and was then adjusted to resemble natural color.

Saturn shelters the sun, creating a view that illuminates planet and its ringsThe mosaic images were acquired as the spacecraft drifted in the darkness of Saturn's shadow for about 12 hours, allowing a multitude of unique observations of the microscopic particles that compose Saturn's faint rings.

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