While exploring Saturn, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft took the top image of Earth from a distance of about 1.45 billion kilometers (898 million miles) away.
NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft was 98 million kilometers (61 million miles) from Earth, in orbit around Mercury, when it acquired the image.
The Cassini view is the third-ever image of Earth from the outer solar system.
Views of Earth from distant planets are rare because our planet is so close to the Sun.
Sunlight would damage the spacecraft’s sensitive imagers, so they are rarely pointed homeward.
However, Cassini was positioned so that Saturn blocked the Sun’s light while Earth was within the spacecraft’s field of view.
Sunlight glimmers around the giant planet’s limb and lights its icy, dusty rings.
The sunlit Earth is light blue.
Photographic Image by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
During a recent calibration exercise, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured a remarkable view of Earth and its moon from a distance of 127 million miles (205 million kilometers).
It’s so clear, you can even make out our planet’s continents.
To calibrate the HiRISE camera aboard the Mars Orbiter, NASA scientists needed to scan an object other than the Red Planet.
Seeing as Earth is right next door, that was an obvious choice.
The image is a combination of two separate exposures taken on November 20, 2016, and have been moderately adjusted to make both objects appear equally as bright (otherwise the Earth would have appeared too dark).
The combined view shows the correct positions and sizes of the two celestial bodies relative to each other.
The Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit at NASA’s Johnson Space Center picks this year’s top 16 photos of Earth from the International Space Station.
A sunset over the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean. Johnson Space Center/NASA
Source: See NASA’s Top 16 Earth Images of 2016 – The Washington Post
The planet Uranus is spectacularly far away. Even when viewed from Saturn, the next planet in, icy Uranus is still just a few pixels of blue in an inky black sky.
This photo was taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft while the probe was 2,659,800,000 miles away from Uranus.
Here, Saturn’s A and F rings arc across the foreground. Uranus is in the upper left. With the equivalent of 14.5 Earth-masses of material, the planet is considered an ice giant (its neighbor Neptune is, too) since it’s primarily made of water, ammonia, and methane ices.
It looks blue in photographs because the methane in its atmosphere absorbs red wavelengths and reflects blue.
Like Saturn, Uranus has rings and moons.
But unlike Saturn — and indeed every other planet in the solar system — the ice giant is tipped on its side. In other words, rather than spinning like a top as it circles the sun, Uranus rolls around on its side.
It’s not exactly clear why this is the case, but one of the more popular theories suggests that early on, a pair of giant impacts pummeled the planet and knocked it over.
This strange configuration isn’t the only enigma in cool, blue Uranus’ clutches, though: The planet’s moon Miranda is one of the strangest objects in the solar system, a tiny world that looks like it’s been blasted apart and put back together again.