Earth has been photographed from space before, but its inhabitants have never been given advance notice as to when those photographs would be taken. Consider this your send-ahead: On July 19th, NASA's Cassini spacecraft will photograph Earth from a billion miles away. Say cheese.

The photo-op was announced by planetary scientist Carolyn Porco, team lead of the Cassini mission. She calls it The Day The Earth Smiled:

On July 19, 2013, the Cassini spacecraft, currently in orbit around Saturn, will be turned to image that planet and its entire ring system during an eclipse of the sun, as it has done twice before during its previous 9 years in orbit.

But this time will be very different. This time, the images collected will capture, in natural color, a glimpse of our own planet alongside Saturn and its rings on a day that will be the first time the Earth's inhabitants know in advance their picture is being taken from a billion miles away.

It will be a day to revel in the extraordinary achievements in the exploration of our solar system that have made such an interplanetary photo session possible. And it will be a day for all of us to smile and celebrate life on the Pale Blue Dot.

My fondest wish is that you, the people of the world, do exactly that.

Let's join Dr. Porco in making this happen! For more information and resources on this and related projects, visit the event website.