After the epic July 19, 2013 imaging of Earth where thousands of people around the world celebrated the occasion by "posing" to have their picture taken all the way from Saturn, NASA's Cassini spacecraft takes another exquisite shot at a different pale blue dot-Uranus.
The seventh planet from the Sun and the third largest in terms of planetary radius, Uranus was deduced into a tiny blue orb dwarfed by the majestic milieu of Saturn's rings when Cassini captured using a narrow-angle camera.
Uranus was 28.6 astronomical units away from the probe and planet Saturn when the picture was taken. An astronomical unit is the average distance from Earth to the sun, equal to 93,000,000 miles, according to NASA.
Commonly called as an "ice giant," Uranus is the coldest planet in the Solar System, with a minimum atmospheric temperature of negative 224°C.
To have a clearer view of the picture, scientists in charge of Cassini merged red, green and blue spectral filter images and brightened Uranus by 4.5 to make it more visible. They also increased the brightness of Saturn's A ring, as seen at the bottom right side of the image. Meanwhile, the F ring is the curved line at the center of the image.
Discovered by William Herschel in 1781, Uranus contains high amounts of methane gas that absorbs red wavelengths of the sun's ray but allows blue wavelengths to escape back into space. This makes the planet appear blue.
The photo is more than just a documentation of Uranus. It will serve as primary reference for NASA scientists to calibrate their instruments.
The unmanned spacecraft is part of the Cassini-Huygens mission to explore Saturn. Since its arrival in 2004, Cassini was able to send back a plethora of data about Saturn and its moons, and its neighboring Jovian sibling Jupiter.
Cassini is also the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter orbit. When it launched in 1997, it had a Saturn orbiter and a probe called Huygens with it, which landed on one of Saturn's moons, Titan, the following year after its arrival.
While Cassini managed to capture Uranus, only one spacecraft has actually reached it. It was Voyager 2 in 1986 and swept past the planet at a distance of 81,500 km, capturing the first close-up shots of the planet, its two dark rings, and moons.
Of course, the original Pale Blue Dot is still our planet Earth, which had its first image courtesy of Voyager 1 space probe in 1990.