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 'Wallpaper' Category

Wallpaper 2560×1600 Set 03: The Planets

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

The planets – the complete set for collectors! While there are literally thousands of images of the planets to choose from… full globe high resolution images are actually fairly rare. They usually require many exposures to be stitched together to make one large complete image. This is not only difficult to work out across the great distances of space, but also soaks up a large amount of valuable spacecraft time and energy. This set represents the best available images of each planet in our Solar System.

Wallpaper 2560x1600 Set 03

Sorry, no Pluto for more than one reason.

2560 x 1600 Set 05 : Saturn Scenes

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Among the various worlds in our celestial neighborhood, Saturn stands apart as a most photogenic. With the help of a complex system of rings it naturally lends itself to more scenic images as compared to the more detail oriented images we see from such other places such as Mars or Jupiter. The “Saturn Scenes” set (downloadable here as a zipped file) was compiled from some of the best scenic images from the Cassini mission that had the potential to fill a 2560×1600 frame.

Wallpaper 2560x1600 Set 05

In order to completely fill that frame out some rendering and sampling has been applied to the original images. These additions are briefly noted in the images themselves and are as noted here…

DIONE AND SATURN features the moon Dione passing in front of the edge of Saturn’s disc. The original image would only fill about 1/4 of the frame so some of the details have been sampled and expanded to fill out that full frame’s proportions. The details of the rings are sampled from this image and based upon other photographic references. The left 2/3 of the rings seen here were rendered and are not actual. The lower 1/5 of Saturn’s disc was sampled and extended from the original image. Lastly, the top darkest ring shadows were rendered based upon a fair amount of actual data that was actually present in the original but was cropped short.

SATURN (which is named “SATURN-2.jpg” in the file name) has had a considerable amount of rendering to extend the details of the rings to fill out this larger 2560×1600 frame. The original color composite work was masterfully performed by Ian Regan for unmannedspaceflight.com and has become a wanderingspace favorite. In order to extend the rings to fill out the frame as accurately as possible, a one pixel wide sampling of the full set of rings was captured and digitally translated to vectors. These vectors were then stretched and applied to a circle path which was then rendered in 3-D software to achieve the correct perspective of the original. Once a match was made, the new vector based rings were then blended into the actual original image and some masking was applied to represent Saturn’s shadow falling upon the rings. Despite the heavily rendered nature of the rings, virtually no part of the disc of Saturn itself has been altered and is 99.5% original and actual.

All other images are actual and unaltered.

New Horizons is New Again

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

A bunch of new data was recently released from the New Horizons encounter with Jupiter in February. Included in that was this impressive composite of Jupiter’s clouds.

Jupiter Clouds 01Jupiter Clouds 02Jupiter Clouds 03The image is presented here in 3 parts as I just have not figured out how to post tall images in my build of WordPress without it scaling oddly into the page format.

The original released by NASA had an odd grey faded edge which looks fairly fake and manipulated. The description states that it was taken at the edge of Jupiter’s night-side, so we adjusted the above images to look more natural than the way it appeared here.

Wallpaper: Jupiter Clouds

Smallsteps Wallpaper: Surveyor 1

Monday, September 17th, 2007

Smallsteps Wallpaper: Surveyor 1

Look at the date on this mission. It’s 1966… 3 years before the Apollo 11 manned landing on the moon. It shows you what we as a species could really do had we the initiative to do it. Just 3 years after landing the first unmanned probe on the surface of the moon… we were ready to send people. That would almost be like sending men to Mars just a few years after Viking landed in 1976. Okay… it is much further away than the moon and many other technical difficulties as well. So lets say that it would been like sending people to Mars 10 years after Viking. That would be 1986 and here we are 20 years after that saying it will still take another 15.

The Surveyor craft was sent to the surface of the moon largely just to prove that we could do it. It was doing what its name suggested… surveying places for Apollo to plant a few flags.

2560 x 1600 Set 02 : The Moons of Jupiter

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

The moons of Jupiter (well, the 4 major ones) are in their own right, a Solar System within a Solar System. There is volcanically explosive Io; Europa with its cracks and ridges hinting at its huge internal ocean; Ganymede the largest moon in our celestial neighborhood and Callisto one the most heavily cratered bodies we have anywhere. The 4 moons are also called the Galilean moons as they were discovered by Galileo and have since been revealed to be more fascinating than most planets are. The images below represent what I think are likely the best representative images of these places that can fill a 2560×1600 screen. At this size, the details are quite impressive… do take a look even if you can’t make use of the images as wallpaper images.
2560 x 1600 Set 02 : The Moons of Jupiter

The Europa image is actually a render created by Tayfun Öner as not that many satisfactory images exist of a full globe Europa. Many great images exist of Ganymede but most are low resolutions, this image was stitched together by Ted Stryk of www.unmannedspaceflight.com. The other two are officially released NASA composites.

Download the zipped files here

Wallpaper: Iapetus Bright Portrait

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Wallpaper: Iapetus Bright Portrait

It had to happen… regularly featured on this site Gordan Ugarkovic stitches together an awesome hi-res full globe image of Iapetus only a few days after the closest approach (see previous post for even larger sized wallpaper for bigger monitors). I usually only label an image a “portrait” once for each body, but seeing as Iapetus has two different sides… I think it deserves two. Here is the darker side imaged earlier in 2005.

2560 x 1600 Set 01

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Images large enough to fill a wallpaper this large are few, but there are some. Here is set 01 which includes two images of Iapetus from this week’s encounter and one of Hyperion.

2560 x 1600 Set 01

Download the zipped files here

Smallsteps Wallpaper: Luna 9

Monday, September 10th, 2007

Smallsteps Wallpaper: Luna 9

The very first time we humans ever had a look at the surface of another world was in 1966 with the Luna 9 spacecraft. The event is nearly wiped from our collective memory after the successes of Apollo, but at the time this was another feather in the cap of the Soviet Space Program. Now they were able to claim the first successful touchdown as well as first man in space, first spacewalk, first object in space… you name it.

Smallsteps Wallpaper: Luna 21 & Lunokhod 2

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

Smallsteps Wallpaper: Luna 21 & Lunokhod 2

The Lunokhod 2 rover lasted much longer and traveled much further than Lunokhod 1 did. It covered a distance of 37 km and operated for 4 months.

Smallsteps Wallpaper: Luna 17 & Lunokhod 1

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

Smallsteps Wallpaper: Luna 17 & Lunokhod 1

More than a year after Americans set foot on the moon in 1969, the Soviets landed the worlds first remote “rover” type vehicle ever to explore the surface of another world. One almost has to wonder how the politics of this mission even played out to bother even letting it continue. It would hardly seem worthwhile sending a robot to do the work actual humans would be conducting 5 more additional times beyond the historic Apollo 11 landing from the year previous.

The rover was named “Lunokhod” and translated means, “Moon Walker”, it carried out a mission for 11 days and traveled 10.5 km. Despite the fact that nobody knows exactly where the rover rests today, the rover and lander were sold at auction in 1993 for $68,500. The auction catalog read that it was, “resting on the surface of the moon”.

Smallsteps Wallpaper: Luna 3

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

The Soviet spacecraft Luna 3 was the third such craft to be successfully sent to the moon in history. The images were not very great, as can be seen… but it was the first glimpse mankind ever had of the side of the moon that is permanently facing away from us. With the first look at the “dark side of the moon” many people were quite excited and the images were published the world over. It took a total of 29 pictures and was able to image at least 70% of that unseen side of the moon.

Smallsteps Wallpaper: Luna 3

The image is largely intact but for the purposes of presentation I faked the “8” in the number on the bottom and actually added some noise lines.

Smallsteps Wallpaper: V2 Rocket

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

While looking at all the strange images from old Soviet moon missions on Don Mitchell’s site, I thought it would be interesting to design a set of wallpapers from these early images. I call the series “Smallsteps” as in Neil Armstrong’s famous, “One small step…” quote from Apollo 11. Obviously, there would have been no “giant leap” without a large number of these other “small steps” preceding the Apollo Program (although some of the images I have planned actually come after or during the Apollo program).

Smallsteps Wallpaper: V2 Rocket

To me, the fact that the human race was even doing space exploration back then seems almost out of time — and then you look at the spacecraft that were sending back these images and it is amazing that anything really ever worked. Tin cans with cameras sending back images that were often just as bizzare and rough as the vessels that carried them. It is even more incredible when you consider that people eventually started strapping themselves to these rockets and floated around the vacuum of space in boxes wrapped with foil.

Seems appropriate enough to start the whole set off with the V2 images of Earth sent back in the shockingly early year of 1948. According the the Air and Space Museum these are the first images of the Earth taken from space in history. The image itself I suspect was just scanned from some print and the number tags and directionals are original (although there were about 17 of them and I removed a majority of them in Photoshop).

Wallpapers: Earth from the Space Shuttle

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

Something impressive seems to be happening on STS-118 (the Space Shuttle mission currently in orbit)… Photography.

Wallpaper: Endeavor Against Earth Horizon

Surely there are many excellent images to be had from previous Shuttle missions, but the images coming from STS-118 are really something to see. Perhaps one of the astronauts doing the EVAs (extra vehicular activities) has a degree in photography? At any rate, this site’s recent effort to give Earth it’s fair presence on this site has to take advantage of some of these fantastic images coming from NASA.

Wallpaper: Endeavor Docked

Wallpaper: The International Space Station

If you would like to see more check out the current mission’s multimedia gallery here or digg the story here.

Wallpapers: Some of the Minor Moons

Saturday, August 11th, 2007

Wallpaper: Phobos Portrait
Phobos, moon of Mars.

Wallpaper: Deimos
Deimos, moon of Mars.

Wallpaper: Mimas Portrait
Mimas, moon of Saturn.

Wallpaper: Earth Portrait

Friday, August 10th, 2007

Wallpaper: Earth Portrait

You have probably seen this image of the Earth before. This was the way the Earth appeared to the final astronauts to land on the moon in 1972. It has since become the quintessential Earth portrait, used more often than any other global image of the Earth. This is probably due to its beauty but also worth mentioning the relative rarity with which we get to see a full globe image taken of the Earth in one snapshot. Only missions and probes that leave the vicinity of the Earth are able to do this and some other popular Earth portraits have been taken by Galileo, Messenger… there is the famous Earth/Moon portrait taken by Voyager 1 and of course several from various Apollo missions.