Very few images can summarize the entirety of our planet's existence better than a photo from a spacecraft orbiting another planet nearly 900 million miles away. But that's exactly what NASA's Cassini Solstice mission did on Friday - now the first raw images of this interplanetary photobombing effort have been released.
ANALYSIS: Earth Photobomb Coming From Saturn, Mercury
The first "Pale Blue Dot" photograph, of course, came courtesy of Voyager 1 at the suggestion of Carl Sagan in 1990. As the probe was 3.7 billion miles away, 13 years into its solar system odyssey, the probe turned its camera to Earth. That moment was as historic as it was profound. For the first time we could see Earth as a pale blue dot - a mere speck in Voyager's field of view. As Sagan put it in his famous Cosmos episode, everything we've ever known is "on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."
But now, as we see more robotic missions exploring the solar system, an increasing number of Pale Blue Dot photographs are becoming available. But they are no less profound than Sagan's original Voyager observation.
So, on Friday, NASA's Cassini mission team commanded the probe to begin taking a series of photos from Saturn. The best thing about this feat was that the citizens of Earth were notified ahead of time and invited to "Wave at Saturn" at the time of the photo op. The result was the biggest portrait ever taken.
PHOTOS: The Beauty of a Mysterious Saturn Storm
As an added bonus, NASA's MESSENGER probe that's currently in orbit around Mercury was also taking snapshots of Earth - the result was two robotic probes taking our portrait from opposite ends of the solar system.