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.
Having followed the activities of a small army of freelance space imagers that lurk in various places on the internet for about 10 years now — it is truly unusual for me to come across images that I know I have not seen before. Michael Benson’s exhibit titled, “Planetfall” at the American Association for the Advancement of Science offers offer fresh views from missions as old as Viking and as new as Cassini. What originally caught my attention was an image of an actively spewing Enceladus that is exposed in both Sun and Saturn shine — a view I have surely seen before, but never so detailed or dramatic. Even more surprising and rare is a new global composite view of Uranus with a complete and continuous ring taken by Voyager almost 30 years ago.
The show ends soon (June 28, 2013) and is located in Washington DC.
Herschel is a huge crater in the leading hemisphere of the Saturnian moon Mimas, on the equator. It is the one that makes Mimas look like The Death Star. This is the best image yet of this feature taken by the Cassini probe.
Answer: Could change/save the world as we know it.
Short-sighted discreditors of space exploration often question what good it is to have a man on the moon. What good can come of sending probes to Mars for so many millions of dollars? Leaving aside mankind’s natural impulse to learn and understand everything around us (not to mention how well it has served us), practical reasons for exploring something as barren as our moon do run thin to the average citizen. While I do so value the science that happens at such remote locations, it is the getting there that challenges us to push the boundaries of known science. Coming up with a better and safer means of space travel can wind up producing something like this; a potentially abundant green source of energy that could transform the world and be the answer to many of the problems facing the us today.
What is often hard to explain to people who negate the need for space exploration are the side benefits of such programs for the whole world. Just like wars, performing something as technically challenging as space exploration results in pushing the boundaries of science in directions it might not have otherwise gone. When Sputnik was launched, most believed that space would go the way of a militarized zone and become a new battleground for superiority. Instead, all these years later we enjoy a vast communication network that has helped topple entire governments without a single bullet being fired. If it is a choice, I would choose space exploration over another world war to press mankind further along the path of progress any day.
So to those who think the best that going to the moon has produced is velcro — consider the possibility that by NASA may be on the way to providing the world with abundant clean energy as the result of trying to find a cheaper safer way to the stars. Not a bad fringe benefit.
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?
This is a raw image of the storm found at the center of Saturn’s hexagonal feature located at it’s northern pole (see below). Be sure to click on it for the high-res.
The image is going to be “officially released” soon, but I don’t know how much better it can get than this. One of the exciting things about this storm is the depth that we are allowed to see into Saturn. There is no other feature on Saturn that allows us to see any further than the cloud tops.
Before intentionally crashing the GRAIL spacecraft into the surface of the Moon, they took this long series of images and compiled them into this video. It contains two views of the craft as it sailed 10 kilometers above the surface. The split comes about halfway through from a forward facing view to one from behind.
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.
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.