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 'Mars' Category

The Martian Hammer

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Occasionally they find things on Mars that I don’t bother posting because they are obviously bits of plastic that fell from descent, or are just shadow tricks. But this one has me and others scratching our collective heads. It really seems to be “growing” from the rock below and is clearly a shiny metallic material. Possibly a dropped Martian hammer?

Read more at The Atlantic.

Long-Overdue WTF Follow Up

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Back in 2007 I posted this image of a dark hole on Mars. In late 2011 they took additional images of a similar feature with the HiRISE cameras on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Turns out it is in fact a “sky light” or a hole in the surface to an underground cavern. This one spans 35 meters (115 feet) across and 20 meters (65 feet) deep.

It’s origins are likely due to ancient lava flows that continued underground and eventually were drained to leave behind a cavern. How vast such a system might be is yet unknown.

Mars Curiosity Rover Images Looking Like Paintings

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Mars Curiosity’s View on Sol 50

The background hills are not just all… the whole “sky” in the back is actually the Gale crater rim. Wish there was an additional image taken above to stitch together for the full dramatic view.

I have a whole lot of catching up to do with Curiosity. I was locked out of the site for months and only got back in after the landing. So I missed much of the buzz and excitement of the first few days. We got spoiled from the everyday images from Spirit and Opportunity and sometimes the images from Curiosity will often feel like more of the same, but I don’t recall any images from the previous landers looking like a Chesley Bonestell painting.

Curiosity Begins

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

I last wrote about this mission in 2007. Now it is actually upon us. So never mind the launch… what is remarkable about this trip is when it arrives. JPL commissioned this incredible animation that is so real you feel like it was videotaped live. This is expected to take place August of 2012.

You Are the Center of the Solar System

Friday, November 4th, 2011

You Are The Sun is the latest space themed tee by Chop Shop Store. Following on iconic tees that collected various deep space missions and historic Earth orbit missions, this new design draws a new picture of The Solar System as we know it today, complete with Carl Sagan’s pale blue dot.

With your head as a stand-in for The Sun — the tee includes all 8 planets, 7 major moons, The Asteroid Belt and even details little Pluto lost among countless Kuiper Belt objects. We are now providing yet another link here to get it for Men on American Apparel 2001 or Tultex tees and for Women on American Apparel 2102 tees.

Could the Phoenix Rise Again?

Monday, January 18th, 2010

It seems pretty unlikely to happen, but starting on January 18 the Mars Odyssey Orbiter will begin listening for signals from the Phoenix. The mission ended last November as the Sun became too dim to continue to provide the solar cells enough energy to keep Phoenix warm and operable. The lander was never intended to survive a Martian winter and has most likely been devastated by the extremes and unlike the rovers, Phoenix is in a polar region which makes those extremities of a Martian winter even greater. Now with the end of Martian winter comes the addition of more sunlight, comparable warmth and therefore a reason to think maybe we can grab enough power to wake up and resume operations. So nobody really expects a technical miracle to take place this week, but in the unlikely event that the lander has survived… the science teams already have a plan in place to take that advantage.

Above is an impressive mosaic image of the frozen water that was found beneath the lander later in the mission. It is thought that the thrusters (which enable a soft surface landing) kicked away the top soil on the way down, revealing a sheet of frozen ice water right underneath the lander’s feet.

50 Years of Space Exploration Map

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

This is so nice, but I am furious that I didn’t get to design this. This is Information design at it’s best naturally by National Geographic. You can see 50 years of robotic planetary exploration at a glance. It even includes failed missions represented by darker desaturated lines. As far as I can tell the cream colored lines are US and the red ones are Soviet. Interesting to see how many of those lines go dark around Mars.

Now where does one purchase such a thing? Perhaps this month’s issue of NG? Here is the link to it on their site complete with zoom viewer and them some kind samaritan posted a hires version to flickr.

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. 

More Fun with Landers from Orbit

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Better than the previous images seen here and here. this is a more recent view of the now defunct Mars Phoenix lander. Some nice detail in this considering how far away in orbit the MRO was when it was taken.

Deimos in Sight

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Nice full color image of Deimos, Mars’s smaller of two moons. There is a second one as well if you go to the NASA site and check out the hi-res link. I would say that this is now the definitive best image yet aquired of this body to date.

Near the Martian North Pole

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Taken by ESA’s Mars Express mission currently in orbit around Mars. It was actually aquired a while back last year.

The Santorini Panorama

Friday, January 9th, 2009

One of the nicest panoramas in a while. See the planetary blog for more.

Martian Spiral

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

A Martian dust devil… or at this size, a tornado. We have seen these at much smaller scales from the rovers on the ground, but it would be exciting to see one of this size from the ground. This image was returned from the Mars Recon Orbiter from almost directly above and this spiral probably measures about 30km wide for an idea of scale.

Happy Holidays From Mars

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Wallpaper: Frosted Martian Sand Dunes

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Wallpaper: Frosted Martian Sand Dunes

The most common force for change on Mars is wind. Dust-devils and dust storms are quite common and they result in patterns and textures as seen here. Making this image even more interesting is the frost developing on one side of these dunes as the Martian winter takes hold.