Earth photobombs Saturn - Tucson News Now

Earth photobombs Saturn

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On Friday, a NASA spacecraft will snap series of pictures with Earth seen through the rings of Saturn. 

It is the first time in NASA history we have advance notice that a distant picture of Earth will be taken from space. 

And NASA wants you to wave hello!

NASA's Cassini spacecraft cameras will be looking towards Earth for about 15 minutes starting at 2:27 PM. 

Because Cassini is too close to Saturn to capture the rings in their entirety in one shot, the spacecraft will snap a series of images that will then be combined into a larger mosaic.

The imager on Cassini is, in part, run by scientists at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

The Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer, or VIMS, is able to capture 352 different wavelengths of energy.  

This allows scientists to look at Saturn in many different ways, which can enhance research related to the ringed planet.

NASA says "The circumstances of this photo-op are extraordinary.  From Cassini's point of view, the body of Saturn will eclipse the sun, so that the rings are magnificently backlit.  Earth will appear as a tiny blue speck just outside the E ring."

According to NASA, since the start of spacecraft travel into the outer solar system there have been only two other images of Earth captured by cameras.

"The first and most distant was taken 23 years ago by NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft beyond Neptune. The second was Cassini's image from the Saturn system in 2006." says NASA.

The Friday photo-shoot will be the first time Earth is seen in its natural color.

The United States will be facing Saturn during that time.

But because it is during the day, people on Earth will not be able to spot Saturn in the sky, but it is there.

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