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.

Project Blue: A Mission to Image Another Earth

November 17th, 2016

Help support the creation of the first space based telescope dedicated to the observation of one star system: Centauri our closest celestial neighbor. Project Blue’s ultimate goal is to take the first visible light image of an Earth like planet outside of our own Solar System. The Kickstarter funding goal is 1 million, but I have been posting this image with the goal of 4 million becuase that pays for everything except getting the telescope launched.

The mission patch was designed by our sister site chopshopstore.com, well known for their Robotic Spacecraft Series of prints. They are also responsible for the official mission patch for The Planetary Society’s LightSail. As of now only the patch design is released to the campaign, but there are also plans for a more detailed limited edition screenprint for the campaign to be unveiled around November 28.

99% Invisible: Space Trash

October 26th, 2016

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.

Full disclosure: Our sister site chopshopstore.com also sells merchandise for 99% Invisble and several other public radio programs from Radiolab to the Radiotopia family of podcasts.

Rosetta’s Goodbye Landing

September 30th, 2016

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.

A Major Discovery at Proxima Centauri

August 19th, 2016

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.

Hellas Basin from Mars Express

June 20th, 2016

Another one definitely worth clicking to see the full-resolution. Image by Justin Cowert and more information on his Flickr page.

A Long Amazing Stretch of Pluto

June 3rd, 2016

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?

Saturnati XXXI

April 16th, 2016

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.

Old Timey Jupiter

January 28th, 2016

I love this “old timey” animation of Jupiter from Voyager 1. It reminds me of these Mars and Moon shots posted so long ago. The animation was created by unmannedspaceflight.com user Astroboy and modified by user Herobrine.

Cyber Tuesday Spaceprobe Deal

December 1st, 2015

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.

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.