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 October, 2007

Wallpaper 2560×1600 Set 03: The Planets

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

The planets – the complete set for collectors! While there are literally thousands of images of the planets to choose from… full globe high resolution images are actually fairly rare. They usually require many exposures to be stitched together to make one large complete image. This is not only difficult to work out across the great distances of space, but also soaks up a large amount of valuable spacecraft time and energy. This set represents the best available images of each planet in our Solar System.

Wallpaper 2560x1600 Set 03

Sorry, no Pluto for more than one reason.

2560 x 1600 Set 05 : Saturn Scenes

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Among the various worlds in our celestial neighborhood, Saturn stands apart as a most photogenic. With the help of a complex system of rings it naturally lends itself to more scenic images as compared to the more detail oriented images we see from such other places such as Mars or Jupiter. The “Saturn Scenes” set (downloadable here as a zipped file) was compiled from some of the best scenic images from the Cassini mission that had the potential to fill a 2560×1600 frame.

Wallpaper 2560x1600 Set 05

In order to completely fill that frame out some rendering and sampling has been applied to the original images. These additions are briefly noted in the images themselves and are as noted here…

DIONE AND SATURN features the moon Dione passing in front of the edge of Saturn’s disc. The original image would only fill about 1/4 of the frame so some of the details have been sampled and expanded to fill out that full frame’s proportions. The details of the rings are sampled from this image and based upon other photographic references. The left 2/3 of the rings seen here were rendered and are not actual. The lower 1/5 of Saturn’s disc was sampled and extended from the original image. Lastly, the top darkest ring shadows were rendered based upon a fair amount of actual data that was actually present in the original but was cropped short.

SATURN (which is named “SATURN-2.jpg” in the file name) has had a considerable amount of rendering to extend the details of the rings to fill out this larger 2560×1600 frame. The original color composite work was masterfully performed by Ian Regan for and has become a wanderingspace favorite. In order to extend the rings to fill out the frame as accurately as possible, a one pixel wide sampling of the full set of rings was captured and digitally translated to vectors. These vectors were then stretched and applied to a circle path which was then rendered in 3-D software to achieve the correct perspective of the original. Once a match was made, the new vector based rings were then blended into the actual original image and some masking was applied to represent Saturn’s shadow falling upon the rings. Despite the heavily rendered nature of the rings, virtually no part of the disc of Saturn itself has been altered and is 99.5% original and actual.

All other images are actual and unaltered.

Cassini Team Shows Some Color

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

NASA released an unusually large amount of color images to the Cassini website recently. Most of what is shown here on this site are actually images put together by freelance imagers who access the raw files and do some stitching together of filtered images. Color images coming straight off the Cassini website are a rare event, so when about 8 appeared in the gallery a few days ago… it was an unexpected gift.

The Unlit Saturn
Saturn as seen from the unlit side of the rings.

The Saturn System
A family portrait of the Saturn System. Moons visible in this image (you need to click the preview) are Dione at far left, Enceladus near the left side ring edge, Mimas a speck on ring shadows on the western limb, Rhea against the northern hemisphere, Tethys near the right ring edge, and Titan near lower right.

Titan, Epimethius and the RIngs
Titan and a small moonlet named Epimetheus share the frame with Saturn’s rings.

Titan on the Edge
A rare color view of both Saturn and Titan in one frame. This is the only one of its kind thus far in the mission.

Rainbow in the Rings
A small rainbow appears as sunlight streams through Saturn’s rings.

Japan’s Kaguya: Orbiting and Releasing Probes

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

Always interesting to see parts of a probe set against the celestial body it is observing. Unlike images that only include the target, these remind you of the presence of a probe or observer. It illustrates a clear difference between seeing these bodies from a great distance (say from a telescope like Hubble) versus knowing that these views were taken very far away from us here on Earth and in the proximity of a very alien world.

Selene Animation

The mission Kaguya is Japan’s contribution to the International Lunar Decade which has only just begun and might hopefully end with some form of manned mission by or around 2017.

The mission has thus far released one of it’s two smaller probes (Rstar) which will independently orbit the moon and the second smaller probe (Vrad) will be set in orbit sometime today. The mission’s main objective is to help solve some of the mysteries of the moon’s origin as well as acquire a more complete understanding as to the moon’s usefulness to the human race and it’s potential role in future space exploration.

New Horizons is New Again

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

A bunch of new data was recently released from the New Horizons encounter with Jupiter in February. Included in that was this impressive composite of Jupiter’s clouds.

Jupiter Clouds 01Jupiter Clouds 02Jupiter Clouds 03The image is presented here in 3 parts as I just have not figured out how to post tall images in my build of WordPress without it scaling oddly into the page format.

The original released by NASA had an odd grey faded edge which looks fairly fake and manipulated. The description states that it was taken at the edge of Jupiter’s night-side, so we adjusted the above images to look more natural than the way it appeared here.

Wallpaper: Jupiter Clouds

Rhea Transits Saturn

Sunday, October 7th, 2007

These images were taken of Rhea as it (and Cassini) sped across Saturn’s globe on August 30, 2007. The near-natural color images were composed from raw near-infrared, green and ultraviolet filtered files made available on the NASA-Cassini website. Some of the details may have been enhanced through the use of infrared and ultraviolet in place of red and blue… but they have been adjusted to reflect what we assume is closer to actual natural color.

Rhea in Transit 01From approximately 93,823 km.

Rhea in Transit 02From approximately 78,967 km.

Rhea in Transit 03From approximately 53,788 km.

Carnival of Space #23

Friday, October 5th, 2007

Get your space-carni fix at for this 50th anniversary of Sputnik week.

Cassini at Titan Again

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

Probably there are images like this of Titan every time Cassini makes another pass. This week marks the 36th time since the start of the mission the spacecraft has visited the large Saturnian moon. So these images are probably similar to the other 35 times Cassini snapped some RGB filtered images, but we are hoping to score a more traditional “portrait” of Titan one day that isn’t another crescent image.

Titan Backlit

The first image is similar to one that we currently use as the “portrait” wallpaper for Titan (seen here). That one is starting to look a bit fake in the purple hazes while this new one seems to be a bit more believable. You can see the thickness of the atmosphere when the Sun is directly behind Titan, which tends to be one of the more interesting ways to view this world. Also visible is what always appears to be a “break” in the uniformity of the haze at the lower-left corner (You can also see a similar break on the next image on the lower-right).

A More Proper Titan Portrait by

This second one is a more true “portrait” image of Titan in all its featureless glory (have we mentioned how much it just looks like Venus?). The difference here is you can really get a sense of the moon being “wrapped” in its atmosphere on the upper-right hand side where it almost seems like you are peering through the haze to another layer just below.

Saturnati IIX

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

Saturnati IIX by