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 April, 2007

Dione: A Quick Composite

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

High Resolution Composite of Dione

I noticed some recent images taken of Dione would make a nice hires if one were to stitch them together. Of course, these images were each (4 of them) taken at different times and therefore, the cassini spacecraft was at different vantage points (see the original 4 images below).

Dione in four exposures

So matching them up is not quite as simple as lining up a few repeat details from one to the next, but photoshop gives one some powers of distortion to make up for some of that. The biggest issue was the disc edges – for when they didn’t match up (and they didn’t) all there was for me to do was to draw a circle and erase. I cannot match the technical skills of some of the freelance imagers that I have featured on the right, but its fun making myself a nice large scale image of one of Saturn’s larger moons.

Stardust Extended Mission Target Is…

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

Soon after the Stardust mission flew in close and collected tiny samples of comet dust in Jan 2004 from the comet Wild 2, the spacecraft was placed into hibernation mode – only to be awakened for occasional health status calls.Tempel 1 Impact Image A proposal to extend the mission into Stardust-NExT suggests the spacecraft be sent on a trajectory to encounter comet Tempel 1. The main objective of this mission would be to image the crater left behind by the Deep Impact mission of 2005. That mission did not manage to image the resulting crater due to the huge amount of dust blasted off from the impact (pictured above-left) which blocked the view until well after DI’s cameras were out of range to see any details on its surface. The final decision on this extended mission is expected this May/June and should it be approved… it is expected that Stardust-NExT would reach Tempel 1 at some point around 2010.

Return to the Moon Trailer

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

Return to the Moon

NASA has put out a “Return to the Moon” trailer at

Wallpaper: Southern Saturn

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

Wallpaper: Southern Saturn

According to the Cassini website, this image was taken at about 58 degrees below the ring-plane in the southern hemisphere. The southern lower half of Saturn tends to appear yellow-peach while (at current) the northern half of Saturn leans to a white-grey-blue, with varying effects from the shadows of the rings cast upon the cloud tops (just visible on the middle-left). It is unusual to view such a large area of Saturn’s globe without the intrusion of rings or ring-shadows and it reminds us how gorgeous Saturn would be even without its stunning rings.

Wallpaper: Ganymede Up Close

Friday, April 20th, 2007

Wallpaper: Ganymede Up Close

Two views of Ganymede’s patchwork surface taken by Galileo around 1997. While some areas appear geologically older (as demonstrated by the record of impact cratering) some seemingly younger areas recall the fracturous features seen at Europa. Many theorize, just as they do at Europa, that there may be a global ocean of water beneath the surface at Ganymede. However, it is also assumed (if if this does exist) that this ocean would be more shallow and under a much thicker crust of rock hard ice than that of Europa.

Wallpaper: Geysers on Enceladus

Friday, April 20th, 2007

Wallpaper: Geysers on Enceladus

Visual evidence that Enceladus hosts cryo-geysers around its southern pole. The lighter surrounding area is due to Saturn’s E-ring, whose materials are supplied by these same geysers.

This is another image supplied by Mr. Gordan Ugarkovic who notes that “this is a colorized image, artificial color was added to make the plumes and E ring subtly bluish, while saturnlit portion of Enceladus slightly brownish. In reality no color frames were taken, only clear filter ones”.

Completely Unrelated:

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

My full time company (unrelated to space interests) has launched its “shop” and is sporting a bunch of tees and designs aimed at computer nerds, designers, illustrators and nerds in general. While I don’t have any directly space related designs up there (yet), there is a poster we did for an event I spoke at does feature me as a robot surrounded by a few moons. You may even recognize one as slightly Mimas looking and the other a bit Europan. The other two are just your generic cratered looking ice balls.

Wallpaper: Ariel Portrait

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

Wallpaper: Ariel Portrait

Ariel is the third of the five larger moons or Uranus. It is somewhat similar to Saturn’s Rhea in composition, about 30% rock and 70% ices. There are obvious ridges and details that would appear to be somewhat “young” features (which is still quite old to you and me), but there is little known about this moon as it was only viewed once from 127,000 km by Voyager 2.

Wallpaper: Dione’s Ice Cliffs at Crescent

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

Wallpaper: Dione: Ice Cliffs at Crescent

An almost Apollo class image of the cliffs of Dione rising at its horizon. Many of the cliffs pictured here are from impact craters, but Dione is also well known for its “wispy” details which have been revealed by Cassini as fractures which result in giant ice cliffs and valleys. You can see one crater actually cross-sectioned by one of these fractures at the extreme far right side of the wallpaper image above.

The origins of these fractures are yet unknown and it is generally accepted that these are relatively recent formations as many of them run through impact craters which are known all over the solar system to be ancient details. As a matter of fact, impact cratering is how most planetary scientists are able to rate the age of a surface by the absence or presence of crater events. Bodies with many craters (our moon, Callisto and Mercury) are considered to be old and generally unchanged since early in its formation history as it is assumed that the period of heavy cratering happened soon after the formation of the solar system. Bodies with less cratering (like Earth, Io and Titan) are considered to have “young” surfaces which have been geologically changed over the ages and erased the record of impact cratering.

Saturnati IV

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

Saturn: Classic Appeal

From the Cassini website, “Like black and white photos of earthly family and friends, monochrome images of Saturn can also capture their subject with crisp poignancy. This infrared view from high above Saturn’s ringplane highlights the contrast in the cloud bands, the dimly glowing rings and their shadows on the gas giant planet. The overall effect is stirring”.

New Horizons Spies Io and Europa… Together

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

New Horizons Spies Io and Europa

New Horizons has some sensitive vision for its investigation of the Pluto system. Because there is so little light at Pluto (comparitively), when looking back at Io and Europa it was able to capture this image with what looks like a considerable amount of “jupitershine” reflecting off of Io. Normally this kind of reflection is quite subtle. Furthermore, the reason Europa has no “jupitershine” is because it is closer to New Horizons on the dark side of Jupiter and Io is further away on the sunlit side of Jupiter… therefore capturing some light bouncing off the cloud tops.

Yes, the blue thing on Io is a volcano.