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Amazing Photo Taken by NASA of Earth and Saturn

Update Date: Nov 13, 2013 09:42 PM EST
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NASA released a natural-color image of Saturn taken from space on Tuesday. The photo is the first in which Saturn, its moons and rings, and Earth, Venus and Mars all are visible.

According to NASA, the photo was taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft when Saturn and was backlighted by the sun. That made it possible for Cassini's cameras to look toward the center of the solar system without damaging its cameras.

The panoramic photo from NASA's Cassini spacecraft depicts the sixth planet from the sun as it would appear to human eyes -- as though you were strolling by and your gaze happened to fall upon another planet.

This is the only third time that Earth has been photographed from beyond the asteroid belt. The first was in 1990, when Voyager 1 took a picture from beyond the orbit of Neptune, and the second was in 2006, when Cassini took a similar picture.

However, this was the first time NASA gave earthlings the opportunity to smile for the camera by encouraging them to wave at Saturn on July 19, 2013.

"This mosaic provides a remarkable amount of high-quality data on Saturn's diffuse rings, revealing all sorts of intriguing structures we are currently trying to understand," said Matt Hedman, a Cassini participating scientist at the University of Idaho in Moscow. "The E ring in particular shows patterns that likely reflect disturbances from such diverse sources as sunlight and Enceladus' gravity."

You can find a more detailed description of the picture on NASA's Photojournal website. 

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