NASA Cassini probe snaps pictures of Saturn's rings and a tiny Earth

It's difficult to really wrap our minds around how massive the distances are in our solar system. A photograph from the NASA probe Cassini currently studying Saturn has been released that helps illustrate exactly how vast the distance from Saturn to the Earth is. If you've ever stepped outside on a clear night and looked up at Mars or other planets that resemble stars in the nighttime sky, it's hard to imagine being so far away from Earth that it appears the same way.

That is exactly what Cassini has shown with a new image that NASA released this week. The image you see above isn't a single picture. The imaging team for Cassini had to process 141 wide-angle images to create the panorama you see above.

The single image covers a massive 404,880 miles across Saturn and its inner ring system. The photograph shows all of Saturn's rings out to the E Ring, which is the second outermost ring of the planet. NASA sheds a little bit of light on exactly how vast Saturn's rings are pointing out the distance between the Earth and Moon would fit inside the span of the E ring.

Cassini was able to capture this photograph without risking damage to its sensitive camera electronics calls by the sun because the sun was behind Saturn offering protection and allowing the picture to be taken. The images stitched together to form this one picture were taken in July and only now revealed for us to check out. Cassini was launched in 1997 and is nine years into its 20-year mission. Cassini also took some other beautiful pictures of Saturn they were unveiled in December of last year.

SOURCE: The Register