'Of all the millions of images taken of the worlds in our solar system since the beginning of the space age, those that reach deeper into the human heart than any other, are those of our own home, as it might be seen in the skies of other worlds: small, alone in the blackness of never-ending space and awash in the blue of its blue, blue oceans.'

Those are the words of Carolyn Porco, the Cassini Imaging Team Leader.

Last Friday, while orbiting Saturn, the Cassini spacecraft turned its camera lens on earth from almost a billion miles away. NASA has released the images, which show Saturn and its rings, and also the Earth in the (very far) distance. The original ‘raw’ images taken by the spacecraft are grayscale, but astronomy enthusiast Valerie Klavans has converted some of them and added color. 

Photography from space, in 3 different ways:

Sombrero Galaxy, Optical, Infrared and X-ray (via Chandra)

"The Sombrero galaxy lies at the southern edge of the Virgo cluster of galaxies and is one of the most massive objects in that group, equivalent to about 800 billion suns. As seen from Earth, the Sombrero galaxy is tilted nearly edge-on. This brilliant galaxy was named the Sombrero because of its resemblance to the broad rim and high-topped Mexican hat.

"The Hubble Heritage Team took these observations in May-June 2003 with the space telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. Images were taken in three filters (red, green, and blue) to yield a natural-color image. The team took six pictures of the galaxy and then stitched them together to create the final composite image. One of the largest Hubble mosaics ever assembled, this magnificent galaxy has an apparent diameter that is nearly one-fifth the diameter of the full moon."

(via scipsy)

NASA photographer Pat McCracken captures shuttle Atlantis’ smoke plume casting a shadow across the full moon rising in the horizon.
"Why would the shadow of a space shuttle launch plume point toward the Moon? In early 2001 during a launch of Atlantis, the Sun, Earth, Moon, and rocket were all properly aligned for this photogenic coincidence. First, for the space shuttle’s plume to cast a long shadow, the time of day must be either near sunrise or sunset. Only then will the shadow be its longest and extend all the way to the horizon.Finally, during a Full Moon, the Sun and Moon are on opposite sides of the sky. Just after sunset, for example, the Sun is slightly below the horizon, and, in the other direction, the Moon is slightly above the horizon. Therefore, as Atlantis blasted off, just after sunset, its shadow projected away from the Sun toward the opposite horizon, where the Full Moon just happened to be.”
Shuttle Plume Shadow Points to the Moon

NASA photographer Pat McCracken captures shuttle Atlantis’ smoke plume casting a shadow across the full moon rising in the horizon.

"Why would the shadow of a space shuttle launch plume point toward the Moon? In early 2001 during a launch of Atlantis, the Sun, Earth, Moon, and rocket were all properly aligned for this photogenic coincidence. First, for the space shuttle’s plume to cast a long shadow, the time of day must be either near sunrise or sunset. Only then will the shadow be its longest and extend all the way to the horizon.

Finally, during a Full Moon, the Sun and Moon are on opposite sides of the sky. Just after sunset, for example, the Sun is slightly below the horizon, and, in the other direction, the Moon is slightly above the horizon. Therefore, as Atlantis blasted off, just after sunset, its shadow projected away from the Sun toward the opposite horizon, where the Full Moon just happened to be.”

Shuttle Plume Shadow Points to the Moon

Space photos never get old. Check out the details below, this is a photo of a 200 day long storm on Saturn:
scinerds:

The largest storm seen on Saturn in more than 21 years has now been encircling the planet for a record-breaking 200 days.
First appearing as a tiny blemish on Dec. 5, 2010, the storm is still going strong today, surpassing the ringed giant’s previous longest tempest, which lasted 150 days back in 1903. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, in orbit around Saturn, has given astronomers a front-seat view of this enormous maelstrom and provided valuable data.
From its humble beginnings, the storm has grown to engulf the entire area between Saturn’s 30th and 51st north latitudes. From north to south, the tempest stretches about 9,000 miles — greater than diameter of the Earth — and covers two billion square miles, or eight times the surface area of our planet.
The storm marches through the planet’s atmosphere in the top right of this false-color mosaic from Cassini. Red and orange colors in this view indicate clouds that are deep in the atmosphere. Yellow and green colors, most noticeable along the top edge of the view, indicate intermediate clouds. White and blue indicate high clouds and haze. The rings appear as a thin horizontal line of bright blue.
Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
(via WIRED)

Space photos never get old. Check out the details below, this is a photo of a 200 day long storm on Saturn:

scinerds:

The largest storm seen on Saturn in more than 21 years has now been encircling the planet for a record-breaking 200 days.

First appearing as a tiny blemish on Dec. 5, 2010, the storm is still going strong today, surpassing the ringed giant’s previous longest tempest, which lasted 150 days back in 1903. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, in orbit around Saturn, has given astronomers a front-seat view of this enormous maelstrom and provided valuable data.

From its humble beginnings, the storm has grown to engulf the entire area between Saturn’s 30th and 51st north latitudes. From north to south, the tempest stretches about 9,000 miles — greater than diameter of the Earth — and covers two billion square miles, or eight times the surface area of our planet.

The storm marches through the planet’s atmosphere in the top right of this false-color mosaic from Cassini. Red and orange colors in this view indicate clouds that are deep in the atmosphere. Yellow and green colors, most noticeable along the top edge of the view, indicate intermediate clouds. White and blue indicate high clouds and haze. The rings appear as a thin horizontal line of bright blue.

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

(via WIRED)

kateoplis:

 Saturn’s Moon Enceladus Coated in Fresh powder

Scientists estimate that Enceladus’s low gravity—about one percent that of Earth—allows some of the ice emitted by the polar geysers to jet into space rather than falling back to the moon’s surface.

Enough material escapes to form an entire ring of Saturn, called the E ring.