This image has been circulating around the internet this week. It shows the view from Saturn’s rings, looking homeward to Earth (that tiny, fuzzy blue dot in the lower right corner of the photograph).
On the NASA site, they write:
In this rare image taken on July 19, 2013, the wide-angle camera on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn’s rings and our planet Earth and its moon in the same frame. It is only one footprint in a mosaic of 33 footprints covering the entire Saturn ring system (including Saturn itself). At each footprint, images were taken in different spectral filters for a total of 323 images: some were taken for scientific purposes and some to produce a natural color mosaic. This is the only wide-angle footprint that has the Earth-moon system in it.
We have images like this and tremendous amounts of scientific data about the far reaches of our solar system and universe thanks to unmanned space expeditions like Cassini, Voyager, the Viking and Mars Exploration Rovers, and telescopes like Spitzer, Chandra, and Hubble.
I spite of our fascination with astronauts and manned expeditions, the heavy lifting these days is done via remote by unmanned missions and technology. To get the soup-to-nuts history of how unmanned exploratory missions have expanded our knowledge of the universe and our place in it, please check out the forthcoming book Dreams of Other Worlds: The Amazing Story of Unmanned Space Exploration by Chris Impey and Holly Henry.