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, 2007

Smallsteps Wallpaper: Lunar Orbiter 1

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

In August 1966 NASA began the Lunar Orbiter series of missions that were intended to get up-close images of smooth areas of the moon suitable for landing both Surveyor unmanned lander probes as well as the eventual manned missions of Apollo. Note that these missions had only begun 3 short years before the successful Apollo 11 mission that saw mankind take its first steps onto the surface of another world… now that is some turn-around time! Lunar Orbiter 1 actually took place while the Surveyor series of missions had already begun. This would suggest that some of the data obtained from the Lunar Orbiter probes were collected and used immediately in the execution of Surveyor missions.

Smallsteps Wallpaper: Lunar Orbiter 1

This first Lunar Orbiter mission is credited for returning the first 2 images of Earth as seen from the distance of the moon. Most people refer to these kinds of images as “Earthrise” images, although that description is incorrect in the traditional sense of the word. Since the same side of the moon always faces Earth, an Earthrise is only possible in a Lunar orbiting spacecraft that is in effect chasing the Earth. Down on the surface of the moon… if you can see Earth in the sky, then you will always see Earth in the sky. It will always be in the same place, at the same size and at all times of the Lunar day.

Cassini Tee at

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

Cassini Tee at

One day expects to release a poster celebrating the Cassini mission. In the meantime, there is this tee available for sale at that features the Cassini spacecraft which will be featured in that design.

We just ordered one and it hasn’t come in yet. So we don’t know how the printing quality will be… we cannot vouch for that as of this time. But the site does offer that they come on American Apparel tees available for in men and women’s sizes, which are known to be top quality tees. When the purchase arrives here at wanderingspace control center, we will offer an update.

This STS-82 Image is Not a Painting

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

Since I have been posting so many images from STS-118 recently, I started rummaging through the Space Shuttle archives at the NASA website. One image stood apart from the rest as completely unreal. Even as a thumbnail, I assumed it was “space art” or some kind of promotional image used on a poster and almost didn’t even click on it. However, this is not a composite, collage or painting. It is actually an image of astronaut Joseph R. Tanner from STS-82 taken back in 1997.

STS-82 Spacewalker

Take a look at what can be seen in here. It is like the entire Shuttle program in one snapshot. There is the obvious… the sunburst, crescent Earth, back end of the Shuttle Orbiter itself and of course the astronaut. Take a closer look and there is more at a glance… In Tanner’s visor is the reflection of the other spacewalker Gregory J. Harbaugh who took the image and attached to Tanner’s arm is the small checklist of tasks that astronauts use on such difficult tasks such as spacewalks.

The original exposure was quite grainy and lots of color noise due to the low-light conditions. So it was cleaned up a bit color-wise and a duplicate of the image itself has been blurred and screened over the other. This gives the image a sort of “romantic” glow but more importantly helps reduce the noise while maintaining the image’s overall details.

On a note of interest, STS-82 also happens to be one of the Hubble Space Telescope repair missions which extended the life of that most valuable scientific program.

Ranger IX, Camera A

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

A while back wanderingspace posted 2 great animations of the Mariner flybys of Mars. They had a great nickelodeon feel to them and are two of the best posts on this blog (in our opinion). So when Emily Lackdawalla posted recently on the first “earthrise” as seen from a probe in orbit around the moon – she linked to this great database of moon shot mission images from the 60’s. Glimpsing at these collections, it was clear that there existed the same potential for another nickelodeon style animation of a trip to the moon.

Ranger IX, Camera A Animation

The mission shown above is Ranger IX and there are many more potential animations that can be made from other Ranger missions or from the Lunar Orbiter series of images. Maybe one day.

Sorry for the huge file size… about 1M.

More STS-118

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Yet another from 118.
Endeavor Against a Cloudy Earth

One of the best details of this one is that you can see an astronaut intentionally peeking out of the second window on the left. Seeing a person looking out the window reminds us how real it is. It’s like seeing a friend in a car go by… only our friend’s car is floating in the hostile vacuum of space.

Another STS-118 Image

Monday, November 19th, 2007

Endeavor Departs ISS

While looking for stunning images from STS-119, came up with this missed gem from 118. Again… was there a photographer on that mission?

Earthrise as Seen by Kaguya

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Earthrise as Seen by Kaguya

Thank you JAXA. Last time we saw something like this was round about 1974… If you want a peek at one of the HiDef movies being shot by Kaguya see this link here.

Comet Holmes from November 4

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

Comet Holmes November 4

Must have missed this earlier image of Holmes. In the interest of seeing the comet better, the background stars were reduced with software and the surrounding space around it was darkened. You can see the original image here taken by Ivan Eder.

Comet Holmes from November 8, 2007

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Comet Holmes November 8, 2007

Here is Comet Holmes just a week after the previous post. The original image had multiples of star trails which have been quickly removed in Photoshop, probably resulting in some subtle “clumping” artifacts in the surrounding coma. For reference, here is the orignal by Chris Schur.

Comet Holmes from November 1, 2007

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Comet Holmes Nov 2, 2007

Comet Holmes is a small comet that travels between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The comet reappeared to observers around the time that was expected (for those who follow such objects), but the only difference was that around October 23 the comet began to get much brighter. In a 24 hour period the comet was thousands of times brighter than it had been the day before. At the time of this post, it is reported to be appear in the sky at around 1/3 the size of our moon and they say it is still expanding. There are no “official” theories as to what is causing the activity, but many assume that there had been some kind of collapse of materials on the surface which would then cause a large amount of material to escape into the space around it.

The comet seems to lack the usual comet tail and appears to be fuzzy and round, as we are looking at Holmes straight down through the tail end of it from our position here on Earth. The comet was originally discovered in 1892 due to a similar outburst which now seems to be repeating itself.

The image above was provided by and only credits the image as being submitted by user Spanto and was taken in Barcelona , Spain, dated Nov 1 2007.

The iPhone Set 01: Bodies of Major Interest

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

The iPhone Set 01: Bodies of Major Interest

If I am going to keep making these things… I’d be a fool to not include a set for the Apple iPhone. Coincidentally, when you purchase your iPhone and do not yet have a phone service, the phone displays a full-disc image of the Earth pretty much displayed exactly as these do when uploaded to your iPhone. So in the spirit of continuity, you can now opt instead to have Mercury, Venus, Earth, The Moon (Luna), Mars, Jupiter, Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto, Saturn, Enceladus, Titan, Iapetus, Hyperion, Uranus, Miranda, Neptune or Triton grace your screen instead of the default Earth.

The easiest way to install wallpapers to your iPhone is to make a special set in iPhoto and simply drag all the files to that folder. Then in iTunes have your iPhone sync that folder to your photos collection. After that it is as simple as opening the “Photos” area of your iPhone. Go to your new folder of images and open whichever image you want. Then tap on the image just once and assign it as a wallpaper using the “Use as Wallpaper” button in the lower left corner of the screen.

If you have a PC I have no idea in hell how the hell you get images into your iPhone. I would buy a Mac… you have an iPhone and use iTunes… you are half-way there.

For a version of these with no graphics see this link.

The Regan Saturn Portrait Extended Mix

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

Ian Regan Saturn Portrait

The one Saturn image that we keep coming back to at wanderingspace seems to be the Ian Regan portrait of Saturn. The composition, angle and color captured in the shot somehow seem to be better than any other. While there are a few other full Saturn images now available from the Cassini mission, none seem to have captured the drama that this one does. The angle that the ring shadows fall on Saturn’s disc, the phase that Saturn happened to be in at the time and the color available as the shot was taken from a more northern position. However, trying to apply the image to larger scale resolutions was not possible as the resolution in the orignal would require that the rings be extended to fill the frame on the left, right, bottom and potentially the top as well (I was also curious to see if the image was just as impressive if it was not angled and cropped as it is in the original). Extending the rings in one direction is easy enough, but doing it on all sides is near impossible to try to do in any image editing software such as Photoshop.

Ian Plus WS

Instead, a one pixel wide swash of the rings was sampled and turned into vectors using Adobe Illustrator. This further allows Illustrator to stretch and curve the ring information captured without having to worry about resolution or pixel distortion. The row of rings was then applied to a brush pattern and applied and wrapped to a simple circle shape. Now the rings are in full circle and the proportions are adjusted. That full set of rings was then rendered in 3-D software and the correct angle as well as perspective was applied and matched with the original Ian Regan image underneath the render for reference.

Regan and Wanderingspace Saturn Portrait

After that, all that is left to do is merge the Regan image to the rings (and maintain as much of the original image as possible) and artificially add the disc shadow that would fall upon the rings behind the planet iteself.

To see the image in hi-res use check out the 2560×1600 wallpaper sets for The Planets and Saturn Scenes

Prometheus Desturbs a Ring

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

Promethius Desturbs a Ring

There have been some nice NASA animations of the interaction between some “shepard” moons and the rings, but this has to be the most impressive. There are some blank frames in there for gaps in the data… but the effect is still easy to follow.