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 March, 2008

Rings at Rhea?

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

Some scientists believe that they have stumbled upon the first ever detected rings around a moon. As if that were not interesting enough — these theoretical rings would also be the only rings ever found around a body that is not a gas giant such as Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus or Neptune. As a matter of fact, Rhea isn’t even one of the larger moons of the Solar System. If these rings exist they are sparse and made of small particles, so Cassini is unlikely to ever detect these particles with the cameras its is equipped with. Therefore, there are no actual images to support this theory… but it is interesting enough that I feel compelled to at least point interested space fans to a great article explaining the theory on the Planetary Society’s blog.

Saturnati XII

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

Saturnati XII

Martian Moon Phobos

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Phobos in 5 Frames

Found these images of the Martian moon being tossed about like loose change on last week. Don’t think I have ever seen any of these. They are from the ESA Mars Express mission currently in orbit around Mars.

Phobos from Mars Express orbit 38

Phobos from Mars Express orbit 33

This one is in hi-res…

Phobos from Mars Express orbit 7

An Ionian Blog

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Io as seen by PioneerOne of the most fascinating places in the Solar System to study would have to be the Jupiter moon Io. Previous to Voyager, the only image of Io available would be this image (at left) taken by the Pioneer 11 mission in 1974 which only hinted at what was to come with its slightly orange hue. Beyond this most scientists thought that Io would be another highly cratered and dusty moon very much like our own until Voyager returned its first highly detailed images. You can only image the shock of mission specialists when they got a look at this yellow, red and white pizza moon which was completely void of any sign of cratering.

Galileo at Io 32nd Orbit by Jason Perry

As it turned out, Io happens to be the most highly volcanic body in the entire Solar System. Enter the Galileo mission of the 90’s which stuck around for a while staying in orbit around Jupiter and not just driving by. Jason Perry is part of the Cassini Mission imaging team and has been re-processing these Galileo images of Io in his spare time. He has posted a large collection of these images as well as publishing a blog that specializes on all things Io and the images selected here are some of Jason’s recently processed favorites.

Galileo at Io 14th Orbit by Jason Perry

These two images are natural color images and most likely best represent what the human eye might see out the portal window of their spacecraft. When asked what he might like to say about these images to a general audience Jason responded, “The colors you see in these two images are largely the result of sulfur and related compounds. Sulfur on Io produced the general yellowish color of much of the surface. The reddish color of the polar regions is the result of radiation-damaged* sulfur. The whitish areas on the surface are the result of Sulfur dioxide: an industrial pollutant on Earth, a frost on Io.” Good information to mention about a highly volcanic moon as many people probably assume that all that red and yellow is similar to the molten rock images you see from here on Earth.

* Jupiter’s magnetosphere traps the solar wind which produces a large amount of radiation. Io orbits within a region that is highly saturated by this radiation.

Martian Avalanche!

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

Martian Avalanche Zoom Out

In the referential image above, two avalanches were captured in action by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The larger of these two (B) is around 180 meters wide, extends about 190 meters and the cliff heights are around 700 meters tall. The White material on the top that appears as snow is actually carbon dioxide frost which is currently receding as the Martian Spring moves closer. It is this very process which may be the cause of such falls as the carbon dioxide frost expands and contracts with the changing seasonal temperatures. Despite these seasonal changes, most areas of the Martian surface have likely been unchanged for millions of years, so it is quite rare to capture such cataclysmic activities in a single image from orbit.

Martian Avalanche A

Martian Avalanche B

IMAGE NOTE: The images above are listed as RGB, but the accompanying text describes all the images as “false color”. Guess – maybe it means the colors are natural but exaggerated? See below for 1440×900 landscape wallpaper.

Wallpaper: Martian Avalanche!

Saturnati XI

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

Saturnati XI

Saturn looking like the bigger blue marble in the Solar System. One theory for the blueness of Saturn’s northern polar region during the age of Cassini versus the age of Voyager is due to atmospheric changes in the Saturnian winter. Some also theorize that the shadows of the rings drop the temperature even lower which might explain why the blueness is only found in the north.

Mars: Basal Unit and Dunes

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

Mars: Basal Unit and Dunes

A recent post on inquired “What’s your favorite view of the poles?” and Philip Descarfino (who did the colorization work) responded with the above image. According to Philip, “I find this image one of the best of HiRise so far. You really get the feeling of staring off into the distance from just above the surface instead of looking directly downward. It’s mostly an illusion, but it works quite well in this image.”

NOTE: Technically the image itself is interpretive in that it is not an RGB composite but instead a colorized black and white image based upon other color images from the same region. Usually you can almost tell from a glance when this is done, but this one looks spot on.