Archive for the 'Titan' Category
Emily Lakdawalla recently posted some images from the Cassini raw image database and I noticed that she had posted 2 similar images taken the same day. One had Saturn’s disc over exposed and the other had Saturn exposed much better with the rings too dark and lacking detail. These crescent images often make it difficult for Cassini’s cameras to get a single exposure with both elements with proper exposure because Saturn’s disk is so much brighter than the back-lit rings.
So i retrieved the images from the same day, recompiled them, did a little manual color balancing based on one of Gordan Ugarkovic’s recent crescent Saturn images and finally merged the two elements together. So, in reality the rings were taken at a slightly different time than Saturn’s disc was. However, since Cassini takes it’s color images one filter at a time (red, green and then blue), that is really true of any color image compiled from the mission database.
Also visible in the image is a small crescent Tethys and Titan’s shadow on the cloud tops.
Not to re-post old material, but our iPhone planetary skins were recently posted to fuelyourcreativity.com for free download. So I thought I would just remind everyone and maybe direct a little traffic love their way.
Best compilation of Titan colorized descent images I have seen yet from NASA. I do suspect the actual color of Titan - on the ground - would look less metallic than these do. All the color seen here is based upon educated guesses and applied over the black and white images returned by Huygens. There were no real color images taken by Huygens during descent.
I plan to do a long post on some amazing renders made for an Italian magazine based upon actual imagery and data… but I am so busy these days. It will go up eventually.
Map-makers of the world rejoice! For the first time since the days of Columbus, you now have the opportunity to map out the details of undiscovered shores! Tim Minton has a passion for map-making, but his pursuits usually involve Earthly destinations – how could he resist the new Lakes and Seas of another world? Check out his flickr page for other maps and in particular his Titan set.
Also in the department of older images never posted here is this revision of the Titan “shoreline” image returned by the Huygens probe which landed on the moon in January 2005. It is referred to as a shoreline image largely because of its appearance and the fact that scientists actually anticipated seeing either lakes or oceans from the Huygens landing. Despite the fact that this image is not an actual shoreline where land meets liquid, you can easily see multiple drainage channels cutting through the land masses leading up to the “edge”. Easily the most “Earthlike” image of another planet/moon ever taken in my opinion.
We did later find that Titan does host a large amount of hydro-carbon lakes in it’s northern polar regions (and a smaller amount in the south) but unfortunately for us, we were not aware of that fact and Huygens did not land in that region.
In addition to the above work René Pascal also generated many fantastic views of what the surface of Titan may have actually looked to Huygens during its descent based upon the data sent back. They appeared in Le Figaro magazine and I am trying to get my hands on a copy before posting more on those images. They are really gorgeous.
Cassini takes a pass at Titan on February 22 (already having made a pass this year on January 5th).
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.
Cassini has another go at Titan on March 25.
Yup – you guessed it. Cassini at Titan again on May 12th.
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.
You can never have too much of a good thing. Cassini at Titan again on May 28th as well as July 31.
Chandrayaan becomes India’s first planetary probe as it leaves for the moon in Early July (was April).
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 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 (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.
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.
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.
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.
If I am going to keep making these things… I’d be a fool to not include a set for the Apple iPhone. Coincidentally, when you purchase your iPhone and do not yet have a phone service, the phone displays a full-disc image of the Earth pretty much displayed exactly as these do when uploaded to your iPhone. So in the spirit of continuity, you can now opt instead to have Mercury, Venus, Earth, The Moon (Luna), Mars, Jupiter, Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto, Saturn, Enceladus, Titan, Iapetus, Hyperion, Uranus, Miranda, Neptune or Triton grace your screen instead of the default Earth.
The easiest way to install wallpapers to your iPhone is to make a special set in iPhoto and simply drag all the files to that folder. Then in iTunes have your iPhone sync that folder to your photos collection. After that it is as simple as opening the “Photos” area of your iPhone. Go to your new folder of images and open whichever image you want. Then tap on the image just once and assign it as a wallpaper using the “Use as Wallpaper” button in the lower left corner of the screen.
If you have a PC I have no idea in hell how the hell you get images into your iPhone. I would buy a Mac… you have an iPhone and use iTunes… you are half-way there.
For a version of these with no graphics see this link.
NASA released an unusually large amount of color images to the Cassini website recently. Most of what is shown here on this site are actually images put together by freelance imagers who access the raw files and do some stitching together of filtered images. Color images coming straight off the Cassini website are a rare event, so when about 8 appeared in the gallery a few days ago… it was an unexpected gift.
A family portrait of the Saturn System. Moons visible in this image (you need to click the preview) are Dione at far left, Enceladus near the left side ring edge, Mimas a speck on ring shadows on the western limb, Rhea against the northern hemisphere, Tethys near the right ring edge, and Titan near lower right.
Probably there are images like this of Titan every time Cassini makes another pass. This week marks the 36th time since the start of the mission the spacecraft has visited the large Saturnian moon. So these images are probably similar to the other 35 times Cassini snapped some RGB filtered images, but we are hoping to score a more traditional “portrait” of Titan one day that isn’t another crescent image.
The first image is similar to one that we currently use as the “portrait” wallpaper for Titan (seen here). That one is starting to look a bit fake in the purple hazes while this new one seems to be a bit more believable. You can see the thickness of the atmosphere when the Sun is directly behind Titan, which tends to be one of the more interesting ways to view this world. Also visible is what always appears to be a “break” in the uniformity of the haze at the lower-left corner (You can also see a similar break on the next image on the lower-right).
This second one is a more true “portrait” image of Titan in all its featureless glory (have we mentioned how much it just looks like Venus?). The difference here is you can really get a sense of the moon being “wrapped” in its atmosphere on the upper-right hand side where it almost seems like you are peering through the haze to another layer just below.
Officially this site’s most mentioned personality, Gordan Ugarkovic does it again with a series of color images combined to show an hour at Saturn. In addition to this being a gorgeous animation, the very image of Saturn and Titan in the same frame has thus far, in and of itself, been quite a rarity in the Cassini mission. The other moon visible in the shot is Dione.
Original image appears on the unmannedspaceflight forum.
Once upon a time I did a large number of book covers (or dust jackets) for a Sci-Fi publisher known as Tor Books. While looking through old back-up files today I found this one that featured Saturn’s rings and it’s now famous moon Titan. Since I am currently working on a poster that celebrates the Cassini mission, I thought I should post this design on here as it happens to be one of my favorites.
I would have to guess that I have been involved with designing around 200 book jackets designs for Tor, both before and after starting the Chopping Block. Among some of the more famous titles I got to work on were Jonathan Lethem’s “Gun with Occasional Music”, Kim Stanley Robinson’s “The Three Californias” trilogy and vampire title, (soon to be a major motion picture) “I am Legend”. The Lethem and “Legend” books had provided artwork, but we also got to do a few other Lethem titles where we did all the art as well as the design.
Image Note: I found this file (not shown) I thought was the hard cover artwork, but instead it was the less impressive mass market edition of the jacket. I will upload a better hi-res version next week when I get back to the office. In the meantime I found this version online of the hard-cover and tried to clean up the jpg artifacts the best I could.