Space Selfies, Enhanced
NASA and JPL have just released these enhanced versions of last week’s spacey self-portraits as captured from Cassini (orbiting Saturn) and MESSENGER (orbiting Mercury). The raw image (here) from Cassini was spectacular on its own, but these edited composites are even better.
Cassini took advantage of a serendipitous view of its home, and with the ringed planet in position to eclipse the sun it captured the top and bottom images. The wide-angle shot (top) puts our small size in perspective next to the gas giant, and the narrow-angle image (bottom) sees us glowing a brilliant blue next to our dust-gray moon.
MESSENGER, whose own Earth portrait is seen in the center photo, also had a view of home on Friday, capturing the celestial pair from its slightly closer vantage point.
Several people have wondered if Cassini actually captured everyone waving since it takes light over an hour to travel between the two planets. The JPL folks assured me that they took this into account, and the shutter didn’t open until 80 minutes after you waved to the sky!
Of course, chances are that Cassini didn’t actually see any light reflected from your waving hand. This guy calculated that of any photon leaving Earth at that moment, there’s only a one in 300 trillion chance that Cassini captured it. Sorry!! ;-)