As it continues to make some of its final flybys of the Saturn system, the Cassini spacecraft hasn’t quite refrained from looking back at its home planet, Earth. And last week, the spacecraft’s camera took a picture of the Earth and moon (visible in a close-up) from a distance of 1.4 billion km.
Some of Saturn’s rings are also visible in the new images, including the A ring (top) with the Keeler and Encke gaps visible, and the F ring (bottom). The Sun is behind Saturn’s disk from Cassini’s perspective, so the rings are backlit in this view.
After more than a decade of incredible success, Cassini is nearing the end of its mission. The next step for the spacecraft is a final flyby of the intriguing moon Titan and its hydrocarbon seas. Cassini will fly as close as 600 miles (979 km) from Titan’s surface on Friday before embarking on a series of deposits between the planet and its inner ring, a gap of just 1,500 miles (2,400 km). Finally, on September 15, it will fly silently and forever in the planet’s atmosphere.
List image by NASA