The Day The Earth Smiled is named for July 19th, 2013, when NASA asked the Cassini space probe to turn around and capture part of Saturn’s rings and planet Earth during a solar eclipse. Much like with the Voyager mission capturing the Pale Blue Dot some twenty-three years earlier, the resulting image is simply breathtaking and is named The Day The Earth Smiled.
Saturn is the most photogenic planet in the solar system. Carolyn Porco
Planetary scientist Carolyn Porco – who was the lead on the imaging team for Cassini – asked for the people of the world to look up and smile, to reflect on their place in the cosmos and to marvel at life on Earth.
The image was taken at 21:27 UTC on July 19th, 2013, at a distance of around 1 billion miles away Earth. When NASA published the image a little later that year, Carolyn Porco dedicated it to the late Carl Sagan, the scientist who requested Voyager 1 to turn around and take the Pale Blue Dot.
Perhaps we as a species aren’t necessarily smiling at the moment, certainly not as a global whole. But while we struggle with our various issues – of ourselves and of our planet – there is nothing wrong with every once in a while, looking up, smiling and marvelling at the beautiful skies above us.
The enhanced image depicts planet Earth as the brightest dot, about three-quarters along (towards the right) and halfway down.