You need to upgrade your Flash Player The theme of this blog is not only and obviously space, but in particular “terrestrial worlds”, places that tend to have surfaces on which one could walk or at least attach oneself to. These places sometimes also have other earth-like familiar features such as atmospheres, weather, volcanos, geysers and perhaps, we are finding, even exotic oceans, rivers or lakes that are not necessarily made of familiar materials we are used to here at home. The second theme is imagery. Occasionally I do some retouching of images when needed if an image is incomplete or sometimes “dirty” or noisy. I will attempt to correct image shortcomings based upon other images or well-accepted presumed attributes. When this is done, notes will be offered as to what was added, why and sometimes how it was done. This way no one should ever wonder if something they are looking at is real or photoshop.

Pluto: Sending Geophysicists Back to Drawing Boards

July 22nd, 2015

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.

WOW

July 17th, 2015

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.

New Horizons’ Encounter Looking Epic

July 12th, 2015

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.

Ceres Bright Spots Still Unknown

June 15th, 2015

Still — as close as this is, the nature of these spots are unknown. Must… get… closer… Read more.

The Man in the… Pluto

June 12th, 2015

Pluto is starting to reveal it’s face.

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.

Help Kickstart LightSail

May 13th, 2015


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.

A part of the rewards in the offing is Chopshopstore’s Poster #6 from their Historic Robotic Spacecraft Series. However, about 2/3 of all the large scale screenprints are already spoken for. So if you want to help the Society’s first campaign as well as secure #6 in this series — do it asap.

Ceres Bright Spots

May 13th, 2015

New images of Ceres show the bright spots as a series of smaller spots in close proximity. This makes it fairly certain that the source is a highly reflective surface — such as ice.

A Curiosity Sunset on Mars

May 13th, 2015

The first time we had one of these it was shot by Spirit in 2006 and then this one last year also by Curiosity.

The Color of the Venusian Surface

March 1st, 2015

Finally found a colorized version of Don P. Mitchell’s work on the Soviet Venera mission which reveals Venus as one would see it standing upon the surface. The color was added to the image by someone better qualified than myself and is most likely closer to the reality than what I had posted a few years ago. According to the Italian Astronomy Photo of the Day, “this job carried out by the Italian Researcher Dr Paolo C. Fienga”.

Uh, That’s No Asteroid?

February 26th, 2015

Okay. Ideas? Anyone?

Ceres: Several White Spots

February 9th, 2015

There are now several white spots appearing on Ceres as Dawn makes it’s final approach to the dwarf planet. Any knee-jerk expectation say that there is merely a brighter material beneath the surface that was revealed by ancient impacts. Why the surface is darker and the underneath material is brighter (see Iapetus) would be a mystery… but perhaps they still may be related to the active geysers scientists have previously predicted due to data provided by The Herschel Infrared Space Observatory.

We shall soon see.

Dawn Begins Observations

January 26th, 2015

The Dawn spacecraft is approaching Ceres and has begun observations, including this first animation. Ceres is a dwarf planet that resides within the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter and is the last unexplored spherical body (that we know of) that resides within the orbit of Neptune. Read the rest of this entry »

The Surface of a Comet

January 10th, 2015

This was the view from Rosetta’s Philae lander when it came to rest upon Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. What is shown is one of the landers feet (bottom center) and a very craggy surface beyond. After bouncing 3-4 times, scientists assume that Philae finally came to rest set precariously upon an uneven surface. Despite these images and images taken from Rosetta orbiting above — they have yet to find exactly where the lander has settled. Read the rest of this entry »

Antarctica From Space

November 28th, 2014

It is rare that an Earth images graces these pages because they are so much more common. But take a look at this. Something you do not see very often because the view requires a fairly rare polar orbit. Get the super-hires here. Thanks to Sploid/Gizmodo.

Poster #3: Curiosity

October 30th, 2014

All three designs are published for our Kickstarter project. Back us today and get this Curiosity poster, Voyager or Cassini (or all three) as large scale screen-printed posters.