The Cassini spacecraft is still orbiting Saturn. On Friday/Saturday 19 July 2013 between 9:27 pm and 9:42 pm UTC (Greenwich Mean Time), the wide-angle camera on the spacecraft will point towards the pale blue dot that is our home planet, Earth. Our small lump of rock, orbiting the Sun will look, as always, alone in the Universe, yet home to over 7 billion human beings and uncountable other organisms.
The picture will be a special one as the Earth will appear to be sitting next to the rings of Saturn as Cassini takes a panoramic snapshot of the Saturn’s entire ring system.
There is a website dedicated to the event called ‘The Day the Earth Smiled’ where two competitions have been opened that have a unique prize for the winners. The website presents the competitions like this:
If you would like to communicate with our fellow galactic citizens, love a challenge, and are a photography buff or a musical composer, consider entering one of our two contests held in association with Cassini’s imaging of Earth on July 19. The winning entries will be included in a digitally encoded message that will be broadcast into the galaxy from the most powerful radio telescope on Earth on the anniversary of The Day The Earth Smiled.
Here in Belgium, the picture will be taken between 11:27 and 11:42 pm local, but I’ll try to put on my best smile anyway.