Did you ‘wave at Saturn’? NASA’s got your picture


The Cassini spacecraft takes an angled view toward Saturn, showing the southern reaches of the planet with the rings on a dramatic diagonal. North on Saturn is up and rotated 16 degrees to the left. This view looks toward the southern, unilluminated side of the rings from about 14 degrees below the ringplane. The rings […]

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(CNN) — Remember when we all waved at Saturn last month while the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft took our picture? Well, NASA has finally gotten the film back from the drugstore — and you can see our whole world.

A good chunk of it, anyway.

People shared more than 1,400 images of themselves as part of the July 19 “Wave at Saturn” event, which was organized by NASA’s Cassini mission. On Tuesday, the space agency released a collage of those images, which — from a distance — looks like the portion of the Earth’s Western Hemisphere that Cassini viewed at the time.

Zoom in, however, and you can see everyday folks expressing their oneness with the ringed sixth planet from the sun. (The full-resolution version is here.)

“Hello Cassini,” says a chalked message in one photo.

“Thanks for helping Earth wave at me today. Love, Saturn,” read a handheld sign in another.

NASA was thankful, too.

“Thanks to all of you, near and far, old and young, who joined the Cassini mission in marking the first time inhabitants of Earth had advance notice that our picture was being taken from interplanetary distances,” said Cassini project scientist Linda Spilker in a statement released by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“While Earth is too small in the images Cassini obtained to distinguish any individual human beings, the mission has put together this collage so that we can celebrate all your waving hands, uplifted paws, smiling faces and artwork.”

The images came from 30 states and 40 countries. People used a variety of technologies to transmit them, including Instagram, Google+ and e-mail.

Cassini took a picture of Earth as part of a larger set of images it was collecting of the Saturn system. Scientists are busy putting together the color mosaic of the Saturn system, which they expect will take at least several more weeks to complete. The scientists who study Saturn’s rings are poring over visible-light and infrared data obtained during that campaign.

The project originated because the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft, which was launched in 1997 and has been in orbit around Saturn since 2004, was going to be taking pictures of the planet and its rings during a solar eclipse. Thanks to various cosmological arrangements, the Earth was minutely visible in the endless universe beyond.

The picture of Earth, though it doesn’t reveal much scientifically, was a rare opportunity, NASA noted in July.

“Since the Space Age began, there have been only two images of Earth from the outer solar system,” the agency said.

And now, there are more — and one that features so many of us.

Hope you didn’t blink.

By Todd Leopold, CNN

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