Today, 19th July 2013, between 10:27 and 11:42 PM UK time. It is to be known as “The Day the Earth Smiled”. The Cassini spacecraft currently orbiting Saturn will turn it’s cameras toward Earth to take mug shots of us all.
Within the frame of this historic picture which is to be taken during an eclipse of the Sun, will be Saturn and it’s entire ring system and for the first time ever, the Earth all in full natural colour.
Of course with Saturn being so far away from us (1.2 billion km), our planet will appear only as a tiny blue pixel. Nethertheless, this groundbreaking event will be the first time we will know in advance that our picture is being taken from a billion miles away.
Carolyn Porco, founder of The Day the Earth Smiled and head of the Cassini Imaging Team says “It will be a day to revel in the extraordinary achievements in the exploration of our solar system that have made such an interplanetary photo session possible. And it will be a day for all of us to smile and celebrate life on the Pale Blue Dot.
My fondest wish is that you, the people of the world, do exactly that.
I hope, at the appropriate time, regardless where or on which side of the planet you are, that you stop what you’re doing, go outside, gather together with friends and family, contemplate the utter isolation of our world in the never-ending blackness of space, relish its lush, life-sustaining beauty, appreciate the rarity it is among the Sun’s planets, and marvel at your own existence and that of all life on planet Earth.
And then, by all means, rejoice! Hoot and holler, twist and shout, raise a glass, make a toast, dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free, or celebrate in silence. Whatever it takes. But be sure to smile, knowing that others around the world are smiling too, in the sheer joy of simply being alive on a pale blue dot.”
If you would like to know when it’s time to put on your best smile, check your local timezone’s photo-shoot time here.