the Phoenix Mars Mission
|| 5/30/2008 || 2:00 pm || Comments Off on the Phoenix Mars Mission || ||
The Martian surface is rather barren….
Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
For nearly the last year I’ve been following the various contemporary space missions on this blog. It probably all started last summer after finding the unique Zodiac from 1544, then this curiosity progressed to Google Sky & Stellarium, to seeing my first Moon Mars conjunction as well as Saturn for the first time in December, and most recently seeing Mercury Messenger‘s first photographs of the backside of Mercury and seeing Jupiter conjunct the Moon for the first time last week.
Today’s entry concerns the Phoenix Mars Mission which I’ve found to be pretty fun to learn about. The website consists of scientist blogs, near-realtime photographs and animations. Because it’s all happening in near-real time, it’s like you are exploring Mars alongside of the official scientists. Quite cool.
Related Space Entries:
The first glimpse of Mercury’s horizon
|| 1/17/2008 || 5:55 pm || Comments Off on The first glimpse of Mercury’s horizon || ||
As the MESSENGER spacecraft drew closer to Mercury for its historic first flyby, the spacecraftâ€™s Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) on the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) acquired an image mosaic of the sunlit portion of the planet. This image is one of those mosaic frames and was acquired on January 14, 2008, 18:10 UTC, when the spacecraft was about 18,000 kilometers (11,000 miles) from the surface of Mercury, about 55 minutes before MESSENGERâ€™s closest approach to the planet.
The image shows a variety of surface textures, including smooth plains at the center of the image, many impact craters (some with central peaks), and rough material that appears to have been ejected from the large crater to the lower right. This large 200-kilometer-wide (about 120 miles) crater was seen in less detail by Mariner 10 more than three decades ago and was named Sholem Aleichem for the Yiddish writer. In this MESSENGER image, it can be seen that the plains deposits filling the craterâ€™s interior have been deformed by linear ridges. The shadowed area on the right of the image is the day-night boundary, known as the terminator. Altogether, MESSENGER acquired over 1200 images of Mercury, which the science team members are now examining in detail to learn about the history and evolution of the innermost planet.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
As I mentioned the other day, the MESSENGER spacecraft started to document the planet Mercury. Since this is the first time in my entire life that contact has been made with the planet, I find these pictures quite intriguing.
|| 1/9/2008 || 1:13 pm || Comments Off on Tessellated Space || ||
The Messier 101 Pinwheel Galaxy photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope
Courtesy of the European Space Agency & NASA
Back in October, Georgetown English professor Mimi Yiu gave a presentation at conference called Defining Space in Dublin, Ireland. The title of her presentation was “The Virtual Fabric of Tessellated Space: Nikolas Schiller’s Geospatial Art as Map, Quilt, and Arabesque.” I mention this because my next project uniquely involves tessellated space.
An updated Armillary Sphere
|| 9/28/2007 || 8:54 pm || Comments Off on An updated Armillary Sphere || ||
Above is an Armillary Sphere, which was used in ancient times as a celestial calendar. Created prior to the orrey, which is a helio-centric model, the Armillary Sphere allowed it’s user to know where the moon was in relation to the earth. It also featured a zodiac, which I’ve been playing with earlier this year.
To make the above image, I edited the public domain engraving on the Wikipedia page and added a very tiny NASA Blue Marble satellite image of the western hemisphere of the earth. I am probably going to add this image to this website’s splash page, which will knock the total number of visual combinations to over 3,000! I’d like to make a few more first. The U.S. Naval Observatory’s logo gave me some ideas :-).
Since May I’ve been very interested in old maps and the scientific instruments that were used. When I discovered Julius Schiller, who published Coelum Stellatum Christianum (which replaced pagan constellations with biblical and early Christian figures), I began to take quite an interest in celestial cartography.
Around that same time my next door neighbor, thinking that my cartographic expertise had to do with astronomy, offered to let me borrow his children’s telescope. Since then (about mid-August) I’ve been looking to the night sky about once a week; much to my enjoyment. Last week was a highlight because we met on the rooftop and set up the telescope. I showed him and his kids how to use the telescope and was able to show them the moon for the first time. DC has quite a bit of light pollution which makes celestial observances quite tough. The neighborhood watch was even in effect because my housemate said people from the street over knocked on our door warning her about people on the roof.
My favorite night sites are Venus and the Moon, simply because they are the easiest to find. I really want to see Mars, Saturn, or Jupiter. But I’ll just have to wait until the night’s right (or I have ample patience). Ironically, a week after my neighbor brought over the telescope, the new version of Google Earth came out with an integrated celestial viewer.
I have more to write about my nightly observations and research I’ve been dabbling in at a later date.
Related Antique Entries:
An Interactive Astrological Calendar from 1544 for Google Earth
|| 8/11/2007 || 11:49 pm || Comments Off on An Interactive Astrological Calendar from 1544 for Google Earth || ||
Right click on the image below to download the .kmz file [3 mb] for Google Earth:
The other day when I was developing the Eastern Hemisphere version, I thought it would be neat to see what the calendar would look like in Google Earth. By using the image overlay function I was able to wrap the entire calendar over the surface of the earth. The result is a very unique way to interactively view the calendar in 3D.