Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty
The Bruce Murray Space Image Library

"The Day the Earth Smiled"

Filed under pics of Earth by planetary missions, pretty pictures, Cassini, Earth, the Moon, many worlds, Saturn, Saturn's rings

Go Back

In this rare image taken on July 19, 2013, the wide-angle camera on NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn's rings and our planet Earth and its Moon in the same frame.


This is only one footprint in a mosaic of 33 footprints covering the entire Saturn ring system (including Saturn itself). At each footprint, images were taken in different spectral filters for a total of 323 images: some were taken for scientific purposes and some to produce a natural color mosaic. This is the only wide-angle footprint that has the Earth-Moon system in it.

The dark side of Saturn, its bright limb, the main rings, the F ring, and the G and E rings are clearly seen; the limb of Saturn and the F ring are overexposed. The "breaks" in the brightness of Saturn's limb are due to the shadows of the rings on the globe of Saturn, preventing sunlight from shining through the atmosphere in those regions. The E and G rings have been brightened for better visibility.

Earth, which is 898 million miles (1.44 billion kilometers) away in this image, appears as a blue dot at center right; the moon can be seen as a fainter protrusion off its right side. The two are clearly seen as separate objects in the accompanying narrow angle frame, below. The other bright dots nearby are stars.

Earth and the Moon from Cassini


Earth and the Moon from Cassini
Taken during the "Day the Earth Smiled" imaging sequence on July 19, 2013, this narrow-angle camera photo of Earth and the Moon has been colorized with the wide-angle camera data.

Here is a cropped and enlarged view. Earth was overexposed in the narrow-angle camera images that were intended to resolve Earth and the Moon separately, so they have colorized it with the wide-angle camera data.

Earth and the Moon from Cassini


Earth and the Moon from Cassini
Taken at the same time as the "Day the Earth Smiled" mosaic, this narrow-angle camera photo has been colorized with wide-angle camera data and enlarged by a factor of five.

This is only the third time ever that Earth has been imaged from the outer solar system. The acquisition of this image, along with the accompanying composite narrow- and wide-angle image of Earth and the Moon and the full mosaic from which both are taken, marked the first time that inhabitants of Earth knew in advance that their planet was being imaged. That opportunity allowed people around the world to join together in social events to celebrate the occasion.

This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 20 degrees below the ring plane.

Images taken using red, green and blue spectral filters were combined to create this natural color view. The images were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on July 19, 2013 at a distance of approximately 753,000 miles (1.212 million kilometers) from Saturn, and approximately 898.414 million miles (1.445858 billion kilometers) from Earth. Image scale on Saturn is 43 miles (69 kilometers) per pixel; image scale on the Earth is 53,820 miles (86,620 kilometers) per pixel. The illuminated areas of neither Earth nor the Moon are resolved here. Consequently, the size of each "dot" is the same size that a point of light of comparable brightness would have in the wide-angle camera.

Below is a photo taken from a GOES weather satellite that shows Earth at about the same time as the Cassini image was taken above. The GOES image was grayscale; it has been colorized with data from NASA's Visible Earth project using the Planetary Habitability Laboratory's Scientific Exoplanets Renderer software.

Earth at the moment of the

PHL @ UPR Arecibo, NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute, NERC Satellite Station, Dundee University, Scotland

Earth at the moment of the "Day the Earth Smiled" photo

Original image data dated on or about July 19, 2013.

Most NASA images are in the public domain. Reuse of this image is governed by NASA's image use policy.


Other Related Images


Kevin Dewey: 07/28/2013 08:32 CDT

What a beautiful image - with both the moon and Earth in view. I could only dream of being somewhere in the Saturn system seeing our home up in the sky.

Barbara Smith-Moran: 07/28/2013 09:39 CDT

I want to put this fantastically beautiful image on the wall of the church that I pastor! It might inspire several sermons about science and religion. Awesome.

Emily Lakdawalla: 07/30/2013 12:17 CDT

I hope you do that. These amazing images should be everywhere!

Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join The Planetary Society

Let’s explore the cosmos together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!