If you weren’t waving at the sky on Friday, you missed a photo shoot of a lifetime.
The Cassini spacecraft snapped photo of Earth from Saturn Friday evening, taking the third ever deep space photo of the planet we call home by NASA. At the time the photo was taken, Earth and Cassini were about 898,500 million miles apart, meaning that the light from Earth took 1 hour, 20 minutes and 24 seconds to reach the camera. The image took about 15 minutes to acquire.
For you to have been waving when Cassini snapped the photo, you had to have been doing it between 5:27 p.m. and 5:42 p.m. Eastern time.
“If we are to capture your photons, we would need you to be waving 80.4 minutes prior to your photons reaching the spacecraft cameras,” said Scott Edgington, deputy project scientist for the Cassini mission at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “That’s how we came up with the Earth-waving window,” which was between 2:27 and 2:42 p.m. Pacific time.
The image containing Earth will now be be pieced together with approximately 30 other images to capture the entire Saturn system. Earth, however, will only be a tiny portion of the shot.
“The Earth’s photogenic image will span approximately 1.9 pixels across,” Edgington said. “However, since not all of Earth is illuminated at this time — less than half — the pale blue shine that we’ll see of Earth will be less than a pixel.”
According to NASA, it will take a few days to process Earth’s photo and the full picture won’t be ready for several weeks.