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 the 'Luna (Moon)' Category

Tweets of Apollo

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

You can also follow the mission in real-time as history played out 40 years ago on twitter. Follow Mission Control, The Spacecraft or The Lunur Excursion Module (Eagle). The Eagle will not have much to say, obviously, until it is actually descending toward the surface of the moon on Monday, but it has just started making some noise on Sunday night.

Echos of Apollo Online

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Follow the Apollo 11 mission in real time at for the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11. The site comes complete with a gorgeous mission animation that shows the viewer what stage the mission is in as the data loads in the background. Once the page opens up we are treated to various interactive modules like photo and video galleries featuring material from the current stage of the mission as well as an oddly placed JFK and Apollo gallery.

The best part is the real-time audio stream. As I am writing this, the astronauts are asleep and every 15 minutes mission control interrupts the static to essentially report how long they have been asleep and that the mission is progressing nominally. As boring as that is… it sure makes it real and takes those too young to have been a part of it as close to knowing how that might have felt to follow this historic event. Of course, the whole thing peaks on the 20th with the real-time streaming of touch down at Tranquility Base.

Also see NASA’s newly restored footage of Apollo 11 and Neil Armstrong’s magnificent first step.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Launch

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is up and out. Its mission is similar to that of the Surveyor missions of the early 60’s. You wouldn’t think we would be needing to do this again, but it is looking for safe places for future manned missions to land. The exciting part is that it will also be seeking out any potential for much needed resources like water trapped in permanently shaded areas in the polar regions. Not having to pack your water bottles for a long Lunar mission would be a big plus.

The best part is that LRO will observe LCROSS smash into the moon and make a big mess in October.

Apollo 11 Owners Manual

Monday, June 15th, 2009

If happen to come to own one of these bad boys from the late 60’s early 70’s you are going to need this owners manual. The original owners of these models rarely have this on-hand. If you are in the market, beware of any models from the 13 line since that model had a well-known faulty oxygen tank that is likely to scrub any potential trips to the Lunar surface you may have planned. Get it from Haynes online.

Earth Ring and the End of Kaguya

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

The Kaguya moon orbiter has reached the end of its mission and on June 10th the spacecraft executed an uncontrolled impact into the surface of the moon. The impact was captured from ground-based observation (at left) and is the small round flash seen dead-center.

One of the mission’s final masterpeices of hi-def video was capturing an Earth eclipse of the Sun for the first time from the Moon. The image at top shows the details in 8 key frames and the actual video can be seen here on youTube.

I’m the Moon

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

The genius that is Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt has this intriguing recurring character that comes at various times throughout its television show named “The Mighty Boosh”. Its is… “The Moon”. The Moon is an odd character that often injects an observation pretty much independent of anything related to the storyline in betwen scenes. Essentially it is Noel Fielding’s face covered in some kind of cream ala Georges Meliès classic “A Trip to the Moon” and is always, always funny.

iPhone Skins Featured on

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

Not to re-post old material, but our iPhone planetary skins were recently posted to for free download. So I thought I would just remind everyone and maybe direct a little traffic love their way. 

Moon Restored

Friday, March 27th, 2009

The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project has been working to restore historic images from the Lunar Orbiter missions which were launched during the years 1966 and 67. These images have been remastered from the original data sets with today’s computing technology resulting in not only reducing the noise, but brought out details that were not possible with the technology available when they were taken. The above image is just a section of the original (seen below) and is also a work-in-progress so you will still notice the striping and other anomalies.

Original Lunar Orbiter Image

Although, as a graphic designer I have to say the original has it’s charm too. I like the distortion, noise and various odd anomalies of these historic missions so much that it led to my making the Smallsteps series of wallpapers last year. Maybe this new LOIRP image needs to be added to that collection… but I would probably stick with the original for the effect. I love the work they are doing, but I also like that you can see the history in these old crusty images too.

Moon Tube

Monday, January 5th, 2009

JAXA has set up its Kaguya YouTube page. Lots of moon videos like the one above, which has been sped up and converted to a gif here (showing only about 1 of every 20 frames). See the full animation here.

Lunar Elevation Map from Kaguya Data

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

Click either image below to load the 4MB high-res tiff file from JAXA. Your will need to be able to read tiff files to view in the browser or click here to download and save the file (right click on the link and choose “save file”).

Jaxa Lunar Elevation Map: Far Side

Near Side

Jaxa Lunar Elevation Map: Near Side

Far (unseen) Side

One More Earthrise

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

One More Earthrise

Also from JAXA.

Its Just Pretty: Earthrise as Seen by Kaguya

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Earthrise from Luna as seen by Kaguya

Japan’s Lunar probe has taken images like this before. Still… just pretty.

Earth and Moon Seen from Mars

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Earth and Moon from MRO in Mars Orbit

This is an image of Earth and the moon acquired by the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter which is in orbit around Mars. The distance from MRO to Earth at the time the image was taken was 142 million kilometers (88 million miles). Hard to image such details could be drawn out in an image taken from such a distance as that.

A similar image of Jupiter was also acquired by MRO some months ago.

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.






Highlights for 2008

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

Titan on Jan 05, Feb 22, Mar 25, May 12 and May 28

Cassini takes a pass at Titan on February 22 (already having made a pass this year on January 5th).

Cassini Goes Plume Diving

Soon after Titan, Cassini performs a truly unexpected maneuver and flies directly through the plumes of Enceladus on March 12th. This is a somewhat risky task for the probe as the particles it will surely encounter may pose some kind of impact threat to the spacecraft. Mission planners expect the risk to be low as they intend to turn the spacecraft around and let the less delicate side of Cassini bear the brunt of the material and photograph the geysers as it moves away from Enceladus. It should make for some of the most exciting planetary science planned for this year.

Titan Alt

Cassini has another go at Titan on March 25.

Titan Alt

Yup – you guessed it. Cassini at Titan again on May 12th.

Phoenix on May 25

The Phoenix lander arrives at Mars on May 25th and (hopefully) makes good on the failure of the Mars Polar Lander. It will be the first time a probe will attempt a landing on the Martian pole and will conduct a series of experiments looking for the existence of water ice.

Titan Alt

You can never have too much of a good thing. Cassini at Titan again on May 28th as well as July 31.

Chandrayaan on April 9

Chandrayaan becomes India’s first planetary probe as it leaves for the moon in Early July (was April).

Cassini at Enceladus Aug 11, Oct 9 and Oct 31

The extended Cassini mission has made Enceladus a prime target of investigation and the new encounters begin on Aug 11th and comes within 54km of the surface.

Rosetta at 2867 Steins on Sept 5

Rosetta still on its way for an encounter with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014, will make a close pass at an asteroid named 2867 Steins on Sept 5th at a distance of only 1700 km. Steins is a small asteroid measuring only a few kilometers in size and the craft will be traveling at a relatively slow speed which should allow for some good resolution images to be acquired during the encounter.

Messenger on Jan 14 and Oct 6

Messenger (having just completed the first encounter in 33 years this past week) has another go at Mercury on Oct 6th and flies past more uncharted territory on its way to eventual orbit insertion in 2011.

Cassini Enceladus Alt

Two more close flybys of the Saturnian moon Enceladus on Oct 9 and Oct 31. The first at hair-raising distance of 25km and the second around a more reasonable 200km.

Lunar Recon Orbiter on Nov 3

In an effort to recognize the International Lunar Decade (and intended manned Lunar missions within 15 years), the United States returns to the moon with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter on Nov 3rd. It is expected to begin its scientific goals only 3 days after launch and is expected to look for possible deposits of water ice in permanently shadowed craters near the Lunar poles.

Titan Alt

And finally more Titan flybys on Nov 3, Nov 19, Dec 5 and Dec 21.

All this is in addition to the ongoing work of Opportunity and Spirit on the surface of Mars. Mars Express and Mars Reconnaissance in orbit around Mars. Cassini’s non-targeted continuing tour of other icy Saturnian moons. And who knows, maybe we will see more than 2 or 3 reports coming from the ever quiet Venus Express mission currently at Venus.

Sadly, some very exciting missions will be quietly traveling en route to their targets and are not expected to be heard from in 08 like the Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt, New Horizons mission to Pluto/Charon, the newly re-targeted Deep Impact mission (now known as Epoxi) as well as Stardust now on its way to a follow-up visit to Tempel 1 the comet that was smacked by Deep Impact in 2005.