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 March, 2007

Enceladus Building a Ring at Saturn

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

Ghostly Fingers of Enceladus

Hopefully by now, most people are aware of the shocking activity at this small moon named Enceladus at Saturn. It appears the moon is continually spewing out material (likely water-ice and rock) from a number of geysers located around its southern pole (see Life in the Hood: Enceladus for reference).

This image was taken around September of 2006, and reveals how Enceladus is actually constructing another ring around Saturn. The “ring” is not normally very visible, but by taking the image with the sun almost directly behind the structure - the particles become back-lit and appear brighter, like dust in a ray of light.

Close inspection of the image reveals quite a bit going on in there. You can see a darker path behind Enceladus as it sweeps up materials already left in it’s path from previous orbits. While in front and around the small moon, you can see jets of material being generated and going into orbit around Saturn. A similar phenomenon is happening at Jupiter with the torus created by Io’s volcanos as well, but I am unaware of any images illustrating that phenomenon as detailed as the one seen here.

Saturnati III

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Saturn Dimly Illuminated by Ringshine

For my money, nobody does Saturn better than Gordan Ugarkovic. PLEASE browse his Flickr account when possible. The bigger spot is Dione and the two tiny pin-pricks are Janus and Epimetheus.

Saturnati II

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Rhea transits Saturn’s cloud tops

Rhea on the edge.

Anyone Looking for Cialis or a Mortgage

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

I have been getting tons of comments lately about Cialis and Mortgages and deleting them as they come in. If anyone on here is looking for that I can forward them on to you. I know how common it is for people surfing space related subject are often also seeking deals on cialis, mortgages and especially diapers.

Lots of Water on Mars

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

Martian Underground Radar

The top image shows the radar imaging of underground structures on Mars, below that is the typography of that same region and the radar swath is represented by the white line that cuts through it.

In the radar image, the point at which the traces or “layers” split into two (on the left side) is where it is thought that the materials change and so the radar is echoing again off that lower subsurface. They also add that “the strength of the lower echo suggests that the intervening material is nearly pure water ice”, which apparently may translate into a depth of 3.5 kilometres of ice. This image is not alone, additional radar scans have suggested ice that runs to a depth of 1.5km in other places with surely many more to come.

It would seem that the intended purpose of finding where, or if, water exists on Mars has more or less been satisfied. I don’t think that anyone expected to find this much evidence of water on Mars between the recently discovered water flows and now a nearly planetwide (theoretical) underground reservior of pure water ice. Future astronauts on Mars will not go thirsty!

Graphic Saturn Interpretive Colors

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

So maybe I’m just going to go with a more fantastic version of Saturn color. I also opted for the more familiar “front lit” view of the rings.

Saturn Drawing False Colors

A Graphic Rendering of Saturn

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

I have two really… the more detailed one is a bit photographic and i’m wondering if that is “better”? I mean, we already have photos so what’s the point? I am trying to make a nicely designed poster so should I go with the simpler (and therefore) more graphic version???

Less details:
Saturn Drawing Simple

More details:
Saturn Drawing Detailed

At this size you really barely see the details. Click on for larger version of each.

By the way, the rings look really different because they are supposed to look back lit in this illustration.

I Drew the Cassini Spacecraft

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

So, I am tentatively planning to make a poster for the Cassini mission at Saturn. I always wanted to get a real nice graphic poster of some mission to Mars, Jupiter or Saturn… but the posters out there are always data driven and not so celebratory or artful. So I have decided to make my own and I started with drawing the spacecraft itself. I have no idea how accurate some of the instruments are as I was unable to find many visual references of them apart from the usual renderings.

Cassini Drawing 01

Wallpaper: Mars Sunset Over Husband Hill

Monday, March 12th, 2007

Wallpaper: Mars Sunset on Husband Hill

This is another fine example of freelance imagers at work. Many of whom spend time at

Titan Looking Earthly

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

Using an infrared camera, we see what Titan might look like if the atmosphere was at least partially clear. This is one of the more Earthly global images I have ever seen of Saturn’s biggest moon. Seeing as how this site’s focus on images is usually true-color and visible light, I rarely post anything on Titan’s surface which requires other means of seeing like radar or using alternate parts of the Electromagnetic Spectrum. This is unfortunate as Titan’s surface is one of the more fascinating places to consider when looking at our “local” cosmic neighborhood.

Titan Through the Haze


Friday, March 2nd, 2007


Another gorgeous view of the ringed wonder joins the Saturnati. Dione Hangs above.

Io Erupts

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

Io with Multiple Eruptions

As New Horizons swung by Jupiter a few days ago, we got a good look at some new volcanic activity on Io. There are at least 3 active plumes seen in this image which is lit by both the Sun and Jupiter reflection (the New Horizon cameras were designed for the low light expected at Pluto). The largest one seen here, Tvashtar, represents the best detail we have ever aquired of an active volcano on Io… even compared to those of Galileo. The secondary plume at 9 0’clock is Prometheus and the third one, Masubi, is inset around 6 o’clock catching the light of the Sun on the dark side of Io.

This will be the last image of an early handful as the spacecraft is simply too busy recording data to turn around and face the Earth to talk to us. More images will be released in the coming weeks as activities die down and the spacecraft has less to record. Sadly, once the full stream of data is returned to Earth from this encounter – it will be the last up-close images we will see of Jupiter and its moons for at least 15 years as no new missions to Jupiter have yet been assigned. Based on previous experience, any new proposed missions to the outer Solar System will take at least 12 years to concieve, approve and build (especially depending upon its complexity). I only pray that I live to see the day that we go beneath the icy crust of Europa and take a fantastic other-worldly-under-sea voyage to a place that may be the only environment in our solar system hospitable to evolving life.