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.
In the referential image above, two avalanches were captured in action by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The larger of these two (B) is around 180 meters wide, extends about 190 meters and the cliff heights are around 700 meters tall. The White material on the top that appears as snow is actually carbon dioxide frost which is currently receding as the Martian Spring moves closer. It is this very process which may be the cause of such falls as the carbon dioxide frost expands and contracts with the changing seasonal temperatures. Despite these seasonal changes, most areas of the Martian surface have likely been unchanged for millions of years, so it is quite rare to capture such cataclysmic activities in a single image from orbit.
IMAGE NOTE: The images above are listed as RGB, but the accompanying text describes all the images as “false color”. Guess – maybe it means the colors are natural but exaggerated? See below for 1440x900 landscape wallpaper.
Seemed about time to update the old Mercury “portrait” wallpaper to the new Messenger Mercury “portrait”. It seems possible this color view of Mercury may be replaced again by a better view from the coming October Messenger flyby of Mercury (or perhaps by yet unreleased images from the January flyby), but for now this sure does it.
NOTE: This is a re-post, the image has been updated with Gordan Ugarkovic’s colors as the official NASA version had a good amounf of false colors which gave many details a blueish hue that would not be visible to human eyes.
NOTE: The rings to the right of the terminator were sampled from actual images and rendered out in 3-D software to fill the page. The dark outline of the right side of the globe is artificial. Everything to the left of center is actual image. See previous post for unadulterated version of the image. Color composite and rings are by wanderingspace.net.
In August 1966 NASA began the Lunar Orbiter series of missions that were intended to get up-close images of smooth areas of the moon suitable for landing both Surveyor unmanned lander probes as well as the eventual manned missions of Apollo. Note that these missions had only begun 3 short years before the successful Apollo 11 mission that saw mankind take its first steps onto the surface of another world… now that is some turn-around time! Lunar Orbiter 1 actually took place while the Surveyor series of missions had already begun. This would suggest that some of the data obtained from the Lunar Orbiter probes were collected and used immediately in the execution of Surveyor missions.
This first Lunar Orbiter mission is credited for returning the first 2 images of Earth as seen from the distance of the moon. Most people refer to these kinds of images as “Earthrise” images, although that description is incorrect in the traditional sense of the word. Since the same side of the moon always faces Earth, an Earthrise is only possible in a Lunar orbiting spacecraft that is in effect chasing the Earth. Down on the surface of the moon… if you can see Earth in the sky, then you will always see Earth in the sky. It will always be in the same place, at the same size and at all times of the Lunar day.
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.
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.
Sorry, no Pluto for more than one reason.
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. The 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.
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.
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 2560x1600 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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.