Moment of Wonder: Earth Seen Through Saturn’s Rings

Earth as seen through Saturn’s rings, as photographed by NASA’s Cassini space probe.

See that dot in the middle of the picture? That’s Earth as photographed through the rings of Saturn.

A recent image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows our home planet as a tiny speck of light between the icy rings. To me, it kind of looks like a speck of dust caught in the grooves of a vinyl record. Whatever your individual interpretation, it’s a reminder that we’re one tiny bright spot floating in a sea of stars.

Makes you feel kind of insignificant, doesn’t it?

Cassini shot the image on April 12, when it was 870 million miles from Earth. The robotic spacecraft — a joint mission between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian space agency, Agenzia Spaziale Italiana — has been orbiting the ringed planet and studying its system in detail.

That mission, however, will end later this year.

After a close pass by Saturn’s moon Titan, Cassini is beginning a final 22 orbits around the planet, which will terminate with a dramatic final descent. Dubbed the Grand Finale by NASA, the probe will take a “science-rich plunge” into Saturn’s atmosphere on Sept. 15.

Moment of Wonder: Apollo Animation

Last week, the Interwebs were abuzz with news on the bursting-fat Flickr archive of images from NASA’s 11 Apollo missions. Turns out an independent group called the Project Apollo Archive, rather than the feds, spent the past 15 years prepping the photos for public consumption.

The sheer volume of images in the archive requires time and deep digging to fully enjoy. Lucky for us, filmmakers have already started doing that hard work. They’re using the pics as raw material for stop-motion animations, such as this one from Vimeo user harrisonicus, which really bring the wonder to life. Enjoy:

Apollo Missions from harrisonicus on Vimeo.