Broad smiles and waves aimed at Saturn

More than 100 young children and camp leaders stood on a field at Hahamonga Watershed Park in Pasadena on Friday afternoon to pose for a photograph. The camera was nearly 900 million miles away.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which monitors Saturn, snapped an image of Earth between 2:27 p.m. and 2:42 p.m. PDT. People around the world were encouraged to “wave” at Saturn.
“1…2…3…Cassini! Take our picture, Cassini, Cassini!” children in the Tom Sawyer Camp yelled while standing in Hahamonga Park once the clock hit 2:27 p.m.

The campers were instructed to point east, toward the planet that is roughly 898 million miles away. Earlier in the day, the children learned about the physical characteristics of the planet.
Samuel Tong, a 9-year-old from Arcadia, said he was excited to be in the photo, even if it is a long-distance shot.

“I want to be part of that collage!” said Samuel. “When I see the collage, ‘I can say, That’s me!’”

“I never knew that is was possible that Cassini could take pictures from all the way out from Saturn,” he added.

The image of Earth will be about 1.5 pixels, barely visible. Saturn will take up most of the shot. Cassini was launched in 1997 and completed its original mission in 2008. Friday’s photo was not the first the spacecraft has shot: It took a photo of our planet in 2006.

-- Tiffany Kelly,

Follow on Google+ and on Twitter: @LATiffanyKelly.