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 February, 2008

Full Disk Rhea

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Rhea composite from infrared, ultraviolet and green filters

Rhea composite from infrared, ultraviolet and green filters. So it’s not technically true color… but I adjusted it a touch to make it more natural. However, I must admit that having never actually been to Rhea myself… it’s an educated guess. Seems a bit blue.

Titan “Shoreline” Image

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

Also in the department of older images never posted here is this revision of the Titan “shoreline” image returned by the Huygens probe which landed on the moon in January 2005. It is referred to as a shoreline image largely because of its appearance and the fact that scientists actually anticipated seeing either lakes or oceans from the Huygens landing. Despite the fact that this image is not an actual shoreline where land meets liquid, you can easily see multiple drainage channels cutting through the land masses leading up to the “edge”. Easily the most “Earthlike” image of another planet/moon ever taken in my opinion.

Titan “Shoreline” Image Update

We did later find that Titan does host a large amount of hydro-carbon lakes in it’s northern polar regions (and a smaller amount in the south) but unfortunately for us, we were not aware of that fact and Huygens did not land in that region.

In addition to the above work René Pascal also generated many fantastic views of what the surface of Titan may have actually looked to Huygens during its descent based upon the data sent back. They appeared in Le Figaro magazine and I am trying to get my hands on a copy before posting more on those images. They are really gorgeous.

A New Messenger at Mercury Image

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

Craters with Dark Halos on Mercury

The newest image released from the Messenger flyby of Mercury features two craters with dark halos surrounding them. The dark material was either generated by heat from the impact or was just below the surface and brought up by the impact. Either way, the assumption is that these are “newer” features since what ever process removed the dark halos from the rest of the craters — seemingly has not had the time needed to complete the process on these.

Japan’s Kaguya has Hi-Def!

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

Some of these Moon (Luna) images have been available for a while on the Kaguya website, but just never got around to posting additional images beyond this Earthrise release from a while back.






Rhea and Dione, So Happy Together

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

Rhea and Dione, So Happy Together

Just been going through older files lying around that were never uploaded. This is a visible light composite that wanderingspace put together of Rhea and Dione a few months back.

Cassini’s Io Animation

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

Io Eclipse Animation

Check out this great animation found on the internet a while back that was compiled from images taken by the Cassini probe as it flew by Jupiter at the tail end of 2000. It used to be hosted at a U.S. astrogeology site which no longer exists and the animation was credited to Paul Geissler. Those glowing dots are active volcanoes. At the very end there is a blast of light from a crescent Io coming into view. The features are strikingly similar to those of the “dark side” image of Io published here during the New Horizons encounter, including the “auroral displays in Io’s tenuous atmosphere interacting with Jupiter’s magnetosphere”.

NOTE: The animation was cleaned up a bit by just for presentation purposes. This mostly included increasing the canvas size, removing all the surrounding noise and darkening the disc of Io itself.

Oh Io

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

Two on edge eruptions on Io as seen by New Horizons

Just looking at the New Horizon images of Io from last year. There were a bunch Io images posted here during that flyby… but i like especially the tiny small plume you can see sharply on the left edge of Io (seen blown out on this post). Most images placed an emphasis on the larger Tvashtar Volcano seen top, left of center.

A Triple!

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

asteroid 2001SN263

Just in time for Valentine’s Day… a ménage à tous! Aricebo captured this radar image of asteroid 2001SN263 which turned out to be a triple asteroid. This is the first near-Earth object found to have more than one moonlet. Is it just me or does that main asteroid seem orb-like?

Wallpaper: Mercury Portrait Updated

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

Wallpaper: Mercury Portrait Updated Jan 2008
Seemed about time to update the old Mercury “portrait” wallpaper to the new Messenger Mercury “portrait”. It seems possible this color view of Mercury may be replaced again by a better view from the coming October Messenger flyby of Mercury (or perhaps by yet unreleased images from the January flyby), but for now this sure does it.

NOTE: This is a re-post, the image has been updated with Gordan Ugarkovic’s colors as the official NASA version had a good amounf of false colors which gave many details a blueish hue that would not be visible to human eyes.

Wallpaper: Northern Cloudtops on Saturn

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

Wallpaper: Northern Cloudtops on Saturn

Wallpaper image made from previous post.

NOTE: The rings to the right of the terminator were sampled from actual images and rendered out in 3-D software to fill the page. The dark outline of the right side of the globe is artificial. Everything to the left of center is actual image. See previous post for unadulterated version of the image. Color composite and rings are by

15 Year Winter on Saturn is Ending

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

15 Year Winter on Saturn is Ending

The northern region of Saturn is starting to come to light as a 15 year-long winter is slowly making its transition to spring. This means the northern pole of Saturn which has remained in darkness since Cassini’s arrival will eventually be exposed to natural light. Don’t forget that this is the pole that sports the oddly hexagonal structure which we have yet to see in high detailed natural light.

Carnival of Space #39

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008


CASSIE the Online Cassini Simulator

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008


Go over and check out the interactive Cassini simulator at Shown above is the simulator’s view of Cassini’s upcoming Enceladus flyby. Scale at this view is not terribly accurate as when you spin the view around — it will seem as if the spacecraft is the same size as the moon. However, it is pretty cool watching the mission in high speed with the labels and orbit trails turned on as seen below.

CASSIE with Trails

You will probably have to install a plug-in to use this, but it is quite simple. It should take care of itself for PC users, for MAC users you only need to download the installer and execute the installation from wherever your downloaded files reside. Some platforms may require restarting the browser should the plug-in appear to not be working after installation.

If this isn’t impressive enough for you and you want to go hard-core, try downloading CELESTIA. This is an application based simulator of our galaxy that is supported by a community of users which expand the program’s capabilities by keeping the surface maps of all the planets and moons up to date. There are even mission simulators you can download and ride shotgun along with historic missions such as Voyager and many others. Even more impressive is flying to other star systems where astronomers have discovered exo-planets and discovering that someone has already added a hypothetical model of that new world to the data set. A fair warning is in order — installing this is and then expanding the program through use of the Celestia Motherlode may result in hours worth of unproductive time.

Enceladus flyby in Celestia

Here is what an Enceladus flyby looks like in Celestia with updated skins. This is an actual screengrab from the application.