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.

Archive for November, 2006

Wallpaper: Comet Wild 2

Friday, November 17th, 2006

Wild 2 Wallpaper

When the Stardust spacecraft passed nearby the comet Wild 2, it opened up a container that held a material called aerogel exposing it to high velocity particle impacts originating from the surface of Wild 2. You can see the haze and jet streams of these particles flowing from various points on Wild 2 and creating what is known as the coma around the comet nucleus. Once the encounter was completed, the Stardust spacecraft returned the samples captured to Earth, in 2006, and successfully completed one of the very few robotic sample return missions ever attempted.

WALLPAPER NOTE:Wild 2 False Color The wallpaper image itself has been greatly reverse manipulated. The most common image from this mission to be found in any publication, or by doing a Google search, is the one seen at left. This image is obviously enhanced and most notably in the edges on the upper left, look absolutely fake. However, what looks like glowing light around this image is based upon data actually captured by the Stardust cameras of dust and gas flowing from Wild 2’s surface. So it was possible to go back to the original nucleus image, re-mask it and then re-apply the jet streams and coma information in a more realistic way… which is what I did. An image is also provided in the wallpaper of what a small segment of the aerogel and a small cometary dust particle looks like. This aerogel is the lightest solid ever created and its invention is what made the Stardust mission even possible. The blast markings are, for the most part, only impact marks left in the aerogel. Look carefully and you will see tiny white particles at the far end of these blast marks which are pieces of comet Wild 2 itself returned to us here on Earth. Probably the most pristine bits of material ever obtained by mankind from what is considered to be left overs from the earliest days of the formation of the solar system.

Wallpaper: Comet Halley

Friday, November 17th, 2006

Comet Halley
When comet Halley last swung into the vecinity of the inner solar system, it was one of the lesser impressive apparitions in probably hundreds of years. In previous visits, the Halley either fascinated or horrified people everywhere. It was, as I would imagine, an object one could not ignore hanging in the sky above. Instead of a glorious vision in the sky, 4 independent probes were launched for the historic event to see what Halley was really all about. Halley OriginalThe one that returned the best images was the European Giotto probe which got in pretty close and returned the above image.

IMAGE NOTE: The image above is one rarely posted and may be a more recent “clean-up” version of the one more commonly seen when doing a google search for comet halley (seen at left here). The only alterations I made to this was to extend the slight haze beyond the tail so that it runs off the upper left hand side of the cropping. Color is ever so slightly enhanced from the original. Now whether or not the original was enhanced… that I don’t know.

The Surface of Venus Revealed

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

Color Image from Venera 13

Color Image from Venera 14

During the cold-war between America and the Soviets the real race was to the moon, but once that race was won a lesser race began to see who would master Mars exploration. After an unbelievably long series of failed Soviet missions to Mars — America managed to take the lead position in Mars exploration as well, with the Mariner and Viking missions. So the Soviets turned their eyes to our other neighbor, Venus, which seemed to garner very little attention from America apart from a few flyby missions. The Russians had Venus all to themselves and really didn’t have to be too concerned with anyone beating them to the punch.

So during the early 70’s the Soviets managed to be quite successful with multiple Venera missions to Venus which included various flybys, orbiters, radar mapping of the surface and even multiple landings on the surface. Some of the missions had failed, but most completed their missions and we have the above color images to prove it. Recently though, I stumbled across these projections of the above images which I have never seen before.

The Surface of Venus Revealed

Someone who knows about such things, Don P. Mitchell (see more on his blog had returned to the original data sent to us by the Venera spacecraft from over 30 years ago and with new computing techniques, managed to reveal to us Venus anew. Instead of just looking at some stones and tiny hints at what a Venusian sky might look like, these projections show what it might actually look like walking on the surface of Venus. The main part of the image above is a composite from spherical projections, which are seen at the top-right, remapped to perspective projections. The way the projection works is the closer you get to the very center of the image, the less accurate the representation may be. However, there is evidence in the data to assume most of what you see here even at the very center where the data was at most thin, is still fairly accurate.

Unfortunately the new projection images were only in black and white and i really missed what seemed to be really fascinating color from the original Venera images… so I tried to colorize it to match the originals.

This interpretation is artistic and not based upon any data other than looking at the original images and trying to assume some of those colors back into Don’s black and white image.

The Surface of Venus Revealed