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 'Europa' Category

Io Plume and Europa Rises

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

Two impressive images from the New Horizons mission as it sped past Jupiter last February. Releases sure are taking time… they must be coming back in on e pixel a day!

Io Plume

Best detail yet seen on a volcanic plume on Io

Europa Rises

Europa seen rising Apollo style over the edge of Jupiter.

New Horizons Spies Io and Europa… Together

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

New Horizons Spies Io and Europa

New Horizons has some sensitive vision for its investigation of the Pluto system. Because there is so little light at Pluto (comparitively), when looking back at Io and Europa it was able to capture this image with what looks like a considerable amount of “jupitershine” reflecting off of Io. Normally this kind of reflection is quite subtle. Furthermore, the reason Europa has no “jupitershine” is because it is closer to New Horizons on the dark side of Jupiter and Io is further away on the sunlit side of Jupiter… therefore capturing some light bouncing off the cloud tops.

Yes, the blue thing on Io is a volcano.

New Horizons Spies Ganymede and Europa

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

New Horizons sees Ganymede

New Horizons sees Europa

Wallpaper: Europa Portrait Render

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

Wallpaper: Europa Portrait Render
The previous Europa portrait posted here, is the most commonly seen image of the full globe of Europa. Even though there have been multiple missions to Jupiter and its system of moons (including an orbiter which stuck around for quite a while)… there are surprisingly few full globe images of Europa. The one used in the previous post mentioned was compiled through several filters but due to some incomplete data, an artificial green haze appears at the right edge of the disc. Considering the scientific importance of Europa and its unique appearance makes a full globe view of this world highly desirable in my mind.

Enter Tayfun Öner who is the author of the above render. This model was created by stitching together a map of the Europan surface from a multitude of images. At this point in history, a good amount of Europa has been photographed and allows one to make an almost complete surface map as seen below. The clearest and best resolved regions of the map are likely from the Galileo mission and where gaps appeared from that mission the spaces were filled in with images taken by Voyager. Euro Map I usually prefer straight photography for the puposes of this site, but this is one of the most impressive renders I have ever seen of any body in the solar system. Seeing as how data sets for full global images of Europa are flawed at best… this render does the job most impressively. The full hi-res set of Europa maps by Tayfun can be found here for the curious.

Wallpapers: Jupiter and Moons

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Wallpaper: Jupiter Moons
Just not enough Jupiter images on here yet. The Moons are Europa (further from) and Callisto (closer to).

Image Processors on Flickr: Gordan Ugarkovic

Friday, December 29th, 2006

Gordan Ugarkovic has a great collection of reworked Cassini images on Flickr. I contacted Gordan about showing some of his images here on wanderingspace and he was ever so gracious. As many people Gordan is “somewhat underwhelmed by the frequency the Cassini Imaging Team releases color composites”, so it is up to excellent freelancers like him to compile this information from the data files which are made public by NASA. Problem is that these images rarely make it to the mass media and we are stuck with the dozen or so color images the NASA imaging teams decide to produce in a year.

Wallpaper: Europa and the Eye of Jupiter

Wallpaper: Saturn’s Rings and Three Moons

WALLPAPER NOTE: The left 1/3 of the “Three Moons” image was extended in Photoshop using data at the edges of the original image which was cropped to a square format. This “fake” imagery was only applied to that area of the rings and the rest of the image including the moons is actual.

Here are some other images from Gordan which are some of my favorites, but don’t trust my editing… go to the gallery and have a look yourself. For the sake of posterity I have added a permanent link to his gallery on the right side of this blog where you may note that there are already a few others linked. There were two additional ones but the sites have been taken down since I linked to them?! Hopefully the three left will stick around for a while and I will in time add more to the collection.

Tethys on a Hazy Limb

Tethys and Saturn’s Hazy Limb

Mimas and Promethius on Rings

Mimas and Prometheus on Rings

Io on Jupiters Edge

Io on Jupiters Edge

Life in the Hood: Europa

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

There are two schools of thought in the world on extra-terrestrial life coming from people who think seriously of such things. One is that the universe is teeming with life, yes… teeming. A good majority of folks these days think the universe is lousy with life forms. The second theory is that here on Earth life is a rare and possibly singular event. Either of these conclusions are quite a leap of faith for lack not only of evidence, but for opportunities to even discover any of the evidence needed to support either assertion. You see, the universe is spread out in a big way. It takes light from Earth a bit over 4 years to reach the nearest star to our sun Alpha Centauri, meaning that any astronomers at Centauri who might be peering out in our general direction see us as we were 4 years ago. So if it takes light that long to get to our nearest neighbor, you can imagine how long it would take our fastest, newest spacecraft to reach there. Using technologies not even mature enough to consider actually using, it still could take us 40+ years just to reach that nearest star… and that’s probably a liberal estimate.

So apart from someone developing a hyper-warp drive which can surpass the speed of light (which they tell me is not only impossible but pose an awful lot of other difficult circumstances) or someone at SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) picks up a faint and 25 year old signal coming from Vega (see the film Contact for reference), it would seem for the time being we are stuck having to search our own neighborhood.

An early Mariner 4 image of Mars

About 30 years ago the outlook for life in our own solar system seemed bleak. The moon was as desolate as one could imagine and Mars when spied by Mariner 4 for the first time, up-close (see above), shocked and disappointed many with a surface that seemed more akin to our moon than with Earth. Gone were all the dreams of Martians directing canals to their great cities or even the hope of a Mars rat scurrying across the red dunes. In addition to this, the assumption was that the rest of the Solar System was hopelessly cold and unworthy of hosting even the smallest of microbes. The gas giants were surface-less hostile environs, most bodies lacked breathable air of any kind and Venus was so hot it would immediately fry anything hoping to eek out a living on its surface. Finally, after the Viking landers determined Mars to be lifeless in the 70’s (in what many now call a flawed experiment) most gave up hope and began seeing the Solar System as nothing more than a place filled with mostly cold lonely destinations offering mankind little more than an ultimate challenge of survival away from home. That was until Voyager sped by Jupiter and its moons a few years later and a small world most have never even heard of, named Europa, held out a glimmer of hope to those in the know.

Wallpaper: Europa Fractures

After returning the first images of Europa’s surface riddled with ridges, cracks and what looked like considerable geological activity (see above wallpaper, actually taken by the Galileo not Voyager) many began to speculate these features must be the result of a vast underground ocean which causes stress on the outer “shell” and causes it to crack. This theory was propped up further when Galileo arrived at Jupiter in the 90’s. Much better resolution images revealed much greater detail including what appeared to be “icebergs” in a large region that from a distance appeared to look like shattered glass. You could easily see where one “berg” broke off from another and floated a distance away by some means (see below). This makes many as sure of the underground ocean on Europa as you can get without actually drilling down through the icy crust and plunking down into the wet core.

Europan Ice Rafts

So if we have a moon made largely of water ice, who is being internally heated by tidal forces coming from Jupiter, we can almost assume that much of this body would be melted ice as you move down from the rock-hard frozen surface toward the warm center… and… one can assume that somewhere in between hot in the middle and cold on the surface, there may be a large zone of warm waters as cool and warm as that found on any Hawaiian beach. Meanwhile here on Earth, we have found that life survives nearly any hostile environment from 200 degree heat vents of acid water on the ocean floor to microbes found frozen in Antarctica. The theory goes, if life survives in hell on Earth why not a comparable heaven on Europa?

Wallpaper: Europa Portrait

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

Europa

Europa has become a focal point of interest in our solar system. Subject to the same tidal forces that tear Io apart, Europa is less severely effected by this and here the stress takes the form of internal heating which keeps the moon from being frozen throughout. It has more-or-less been confirmed that below its icy crust lies an almost global ocean of 100% water. Considering that the center of the moon is quite warm and the icy shell is of course frozen rock-solid, somewhere in between must lie a zone with temperatures similar to that of earth deep within this watery underground ocean. As any marine biologist will tell you, the Earth’s oceans are riddled with life. Even in places of extreme heat and cold, life still somehow has survived the ages and has adapted to such extreme environments. Leading to conjecture that no-matter the obstacles to life ever developing on the surface of such a place… the mere presence of earth-like conditions deep within Europa’s dark underground water ocean may have been just enough for some if not many forms of life to evolve and survive to this day. There are many missions on the drawing board right now to find out more answers including a Europa orbiter, various landers and one truly aggressive mission that would involve melting through the crust and “injecting” a submersible probe into the watery core. For a new and improved portrait image of Europa see here.

Wallpaper: Europa at Half Phase

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

Wallpaper: Europa at Half Phase

Awesome detail of Europa on this half phase image by Ted Stryk. The cracks and ridges which suggest the internal watery ocean are clearly evident and are Europa’s most notable features.