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 May, 2007

Telescopic Views of Our Moon and Other Planets

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Moon and Mars

I stumbled across an image of Mars and our moon a while back, either on Universe Today or just from looking for great images of Mars on google. Anyway, it never occured to me that you can get such great detail of Mars while still being able to see a limb of the Moon in the same view. I thought it was a Photoshop job until I looked up “occult+Saturn+moon” and found similar images. For some reason, Jupiter images are more a rarity. What is unmistakable is that the above Moon/Mars image by Ron Dantowitz is pretty incredible for its clarity and detail.

Moon and Jupiter

moon and Saturn

Moon and Saturn

I couldn’t find any of the moon and a tiny blue dot of Uranus, but you can always use your imagination.

U. Gordan just sent me one of Venus too

Moon and Venus in Daylight

Mars Science Lab Animation

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Mars Science Lab Frame 2

The coming Mars Science Lab mission video is available with various resolution options here (they are also downloadble!). This animation doesn’t focus as much on the trip to Mars as the MAAS ones have in the past, I would imagine that NASA wanted to highlight all the advanced science this mission will be performing instead of focusing on the long cruise to get there.

Mars Science Lab Frame 3

Take a look especially at the part of the mission where apparently they actually shoot a laser beam at various targets and take measurements of, what I would imagine, are the gasses emitted from such a burn. It also illustrates the process by which MSL will be taking soil and rock samples for in-depth investigations. This mission is exactly what it claims to be… a roving Science Lab on Mars. This is as close to having astronauts on the surface as our current technology can allow… that is… without actually sending someone… which our current technology does allow.

Wallpaper: Space Walk

Monday, May 28th, 2007

Wallpaper: Space Walk

Ed White is the first American space walker, which took place on Mercury 7. Sadly, he later died on the ground in the tragic Apollo 1 flash fire which took place during a test run. The accident took the lives of 3 astronauts before Apollo even got off the ground.

Note: I erroneously labeled this wallpaper as Mercury 7 and not Gemini 4. Image has been corrected.

Image Note: Some of the Earth image at the far left has been extended in Photoshop to fill out the space. The original image was square.

WTF?

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

I just updated this post with a higher resolution image of this hole in Mars. Click on the image for an even higher resolution version.

Mars Pit

The darkness of this hole in Mars is not due to limitations of the cameras. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is usually always able to detect details even in dark shadow. But blowing this image out to reveal details shows nothing. No side walls, no bottom… leading most to consider that this is a sinkhole that fell into a large Martian cavern. Most likely the total lack of detail probably means that the surface around this hole is actually over-hanging a deep pit.

Maybe this is where all the ancient running Martian water drained to. Better watch your step.

Io’s Tvashtar Volcano Movie in Slo-Mo

Saturday, May 19th, 2007

Io’s Tvashtar Volcano Movie

This animated gif has been making the rounds lately… It is composed of 5 images taken by New Horizons as it sped past Jupiter in February. Of course, 5 frames go by pretty quickly and do not really allow us any time to appreciate the motion. So I did a really simple thing and added a whole bunch more frames in between the 5 primary images then simply faded them into one another. This creates the illusion of a smoother and longer animation, but really you are still only seeing 5 total images. I tried faking a loop from frame 5 back to 1, but that was near impossible and not really an honest representation of what New Horizons saw.

Sharpest Image of The Sun as of 2005

Sunday, May 13th, 2007

Sharpest Image of The Sun as of 2005

So minutes after I posted the previous thread, I found this even sharper image of a sunspot that is quite amazing. Taken with the National Science Foundation’s Dunn Solar Telescope fittingly located in Sunspot, NM.

Sharpest Image of The Sun as of 2002

Sunday, May 13th, 2007

Sharpest Image of The Sun

I have to admit this is my first direct lift right from Astronomy Picture of the Day (dating back to November 2002). Some recent images of Solar prominences and arcs are pretty close in quality if not surpass this, but I don’t think I have seen anything comparitively detailed of the actual surface like this. The image was acquired through the ground-based Swedish Solar Telescope located on the Canary Island of La Palma. Despite the ground-based operation, it still was able to make an image of the Sun that surpassed any of those taken by the observatories in orbit at that point in time.

What is seen in the above image is a dark region known as a sunspot which is a planet sized area of unknown origin. Our Sun in Natural LightIt has a much lower temperature than its surrounding areas and emits a tremendous amount of magnetic activity. Of course, any imaging the Sun in normal visible light with no photographic trickery would result in an entirely white image with no details at all. So the funny thing about these “dark spots” (see visible/white light image at left) is that they are actually blindingly bright to a human eye. It is only when we image these areas in comparitive contrast with the surrounding hotter areas do they appear as dark in photographs. These mysterious spots seem to also appear in abundance in 11 year cycles which also eludes any scientific explanation.

Asteroid Surface Images

Friday, May 11th, 2007

The surface of Itokawa

Itokawa (full name 25143 Itokawa) is an Earth crossing type asteroid that was visited by JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) in 2005. It was, and still may be, the first asteroid to be sampled and returned to Earth. To make a long story short, JAXA attempted quite a complicated mission for such a young agency and sent a probe to Itokawa. The plan was for Hayabusa to orbit, land upon, sample a bit of the surface and then return those samples back to Earth for retrieval. Currently, the mission is seriously damaged and operating on 1 of 3 reaction wheels. Additionally, Hayabusa suffered a major solar flare that damaged several battery cells, a rehearsal landing failed, the agency is unsure if any samples actually made it into the return cannister and 2 probes designed to study the surface also failed. Despite all this trouble and serious concern about its ability to even make it back to Earth… in early 2007 Hayabusa began its long questionable trip back home. Should it make it, the sample return cannister should re-enter Earth atmosphere in 2010.

Never surrender!

Monster Sized Monochrome Image of Jupiter

Sunday, May 6th, 2007

Monster Sized Monochrome Image of Jupiter

For full resolution monster sized image click here.

Wallpaper: Phoebe Portrait

Friday, May 4th, 2007

Wallpaper: Phoebe Portrait

A few posts back I uploaded a closer detail of this same image. This is the best “portrait” image of Phoebe available taken by Cassini on its way into the Saturn system and orbit insertion. Being so far out from the rest of the most dle scientific targets (4x as far as Iapetus), this was the only up-close visit planned to the tiny moon who’s size is about 220km average width.

Io Plume and Europa Rises

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

Two impressive images from the New Horizons mission as it sped past Jupiter last February. Releases sure are taking time… they must be coming back in on e pixel a day!

Io Plume

Best detail yet seen on a volcanic plume on Io

Europa Rises

Europa seen rising Apollo style over the edge of Jupiter.

Wallpaper: Phoebe

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

Wallpaper: Phoebe

There appears to be a layer of dark material covering the small moon Phoebe as revealed by the collapse of materials in the northern region of the small moon. Phoebe orbits Saturn outside the orbit of Iapetus and has been considered a possible candidate for the dark material also found covering one side of that unusual moon. What may have caused this transfer of materials is still a mystery… or that Phoebe had anything to do with that feature on Iapetus is still very much in question.

Some propose that Phoebe is actually a captured comet from the Kuiper belt (a region of small bodies orbiting the sun beyond Neptune of which Pluto is considered a member). If this is true, the images taken by cassini would be the only images of such bodies to be anything other than a single point of light.