This week’s 99% Invisible is all about the ever worsening issue of space trash. If you haven’t heard of the show… this would be a great one to start with.
All images were taken from under 10km as Rosetta approached the surface.
This first image was manipulated to reduce noise and increase contrast. What we see here is cometary dust particles moving in varied directions and lengths. Check out this animated GIF sent to me by Phil Stooke showing cometary dust moving around 67-P.
The closest star to our own is apparently going to be the center of a major announcement at the end of the month. Sorry to tell them, but the cat (if there is a cat) is already out of said bag. And — this is coming on the heels of the Breakthrough Initiatives announcement of Starshot, a nano-mission to the nearest star system within a generation. A group backed by Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan’s widow Ann Druyan and Mark Zuckerberg.
On a related note, Chop Shop (our more commercial entity) just released their first design for Icarus Interstellar Build a Starship which happens to feature the Centauri System (that is Proxima upper right). Centauri is a triple star system with Beta Centauri in orbit around Alpha Centauri. Despite the graphic’s presentation… Proxima Centauri’s orbit (if there is one) is so long that they are not even sure if it actually orbits the two or if it is just locked into position trailing the two.
Another one definitely worth clicking to see the full-resolution. Image by Justin Cowert and more information on his Flickr page.
I still cannot believe Pluto has this much variance in it’s geology. I truly expected New Horizons to arrive and find something more like Dione. No disrespect intended to one of Saturn’s own, but you don’t want to travel nearly 10 years to uncover a frozen and cratered dirty snowball. Even while Hubble was hinting at something amazing before we finally arrived, I still expected to be underwhelmed.
New Horizons has revealed one of the most diverse bodies in our Solar System which presents an intriguing mystery. How does an object so far from the warmth of the sun, and too small to generate it’s own internal heat manage to create floating mountains, smooth icy plains and truly wild textures that we are used to seeing on small bodies orbiting too close to giant planets?
Even more exciting… we now know that size and distance may not matter as much as we had thought. All of the other Dwarf Planets in the Kuiper Belt may each be just as amazing as Pluto has been revealed to be. When do we start planning for a New Horizons 2 visit to Eris?
Okay, so it is not totally real. An IR filter was added to the normal RGB files to exaggerate the clouds. Also made the rings appear red. But we couldn’t find a version of this image without the added filter. So — it is about 80% true color. Seen on The Planetary Society image library by Judy Schmidt.
For two days only, buy one of our limited edition Robotic Spacecraft Series Prints and get the full suite of vinyl stickers for free. This is a total savings of $24 and would serve as a great stocking stuffer to follow the presentation of the print.
I have never seen anything like this. What we are seeing are many different kinds of materials in two image frames (mosaic by Emily Lakdawalla). The shiniest textures seen here are more than likely water ice, the darker material may be tholins (a theoretical substance predicted by Carl Sagan himself) and frozen carbon monoxide — but we don’t know for sure.
Thus far, Pluto is so unexpected and so many times more exotic than I would have ever guessed.
Shown above is an early best guess at Pluto’s actual colors. The “color” image that has saturated all forms of media is actually just a monochrome with the colors seen earlier in the mission laid over it. So that is really just an artificial duotone. Shown above is a gorgeous color image with best-guesses at Pluto’s true colors based upon chemical maps made by New Horizons.
The images coming back so far from Pluto look incredible. For the first time since Voyager uncovered exactly how exotic the moons of Jupiter really were — we are seeing things at Pluto that few saw coming. Some images show Pluto looking like a real-life version of a sci-fi illustration from the 1960s, with all kinds of lines, circles and spots of which we still know very little about.
Shown above is the Chop Shop Studio poster celebrating New Horizons at Pluto and is being updated almost every day when new images are released from the mission. This is the third update from July 11 data. The design along with two other missions is being crowd-funded on Kickstarter right now and you can still vote on which missions make the cut for posters #8 and #9.
Still — as close as this is, the nature of these spots are unknown. Must… get… closer… Read more.
This is the last visit of this kind for the forseeable future. Apart from a few of the other larger Kuiper Belt objects, this is the only planned exploration of a major body in our solar system left that has never been seen by human eyes before. Every planet, all the major moons and the most significant asteroids have all been revealed if not globally mapped. There would have to be a new mission planned to Eris, Makemake or to one of the other Kuipers to see something like this again. Even if a mission like that was approved, it would be years of development plus another 10 year slog before arriving at such distant targets.
It is worth noting that as soon as 2017, New Horizons is expected to make another flyby of a much smaller Kuiper Belt object and then again in 2019 — with a possibility of a third if one can be found. So even after Pluto is over… there will still be a few encores.
Planetary Society’s first ever Kickstarter is up and it is already sailing toward it’s goal. In just 24 hours they are halfway to reaching their 200K goal! This will fill the existing budget gap the Society is currently operating under and will make LightSail a fully funded before it’s first planned launch later this month.