A Saturnian Aurora Captured

Astro0 (a contributor to unmannedspaceflight.com) had been looking through a 159 frame set of images that showed a tiny portion of Saturn's sunlit limb. He animated it just to see the effect and happened upon a pretty nice animation of a Saturnian aurora (click here for the animation). Which is likely the first time we are seeing an aurora on another world so clearly animated.

To be clear… the spots that stand still in the animation are artifacts of the images. The streaks are stars seemingly flying by due to Cassini’s cameras being trained on one spot as it and Saturn itself are moving through space. Astro0’s blog can be found here and I suspect will soon feature a post with more details on the animation in the very near future.

Echos of Apollo Online

Follow the Apollo 11 mission in real time at wechosethemoon.org for the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11. The site comes complete with a gorgeous mission animation that shows the viewer what stage the mission is in as the data loads in the background. Once the page opens up we are treated to various interactive modules like photo and video galleries featuring material from the current stage of the mission as well as an oddly placed JFK and Apollo gallery.

The best part is the real-time audio stream. As I am writing this, the astronauts are asleep and every 15 minutes mission control interrupts the static to essentially report how long they have been asleep and that the mission is progressing nominally. As boring as that is… it sure makes it real and takes those too young to have been a part of it as close to knowing how that might have felt to follow this historic event. Of course, the whole thing peaks on the 20th with the real-time streaming of touch down at Tranquility Base.

Also see NASA’s newly restored footage of Apollo 11 and Neil Armstrong’s magnificent first step.

Time Lapse Imagery from ISS

While astronaut Don Pettit was living aboard the International Space Station (ISS), he used some of his off-duty time to make time lapse videos of what he was seeing outside of the ISS window. There are a few examples of this work in this video from Science Friday (NPR). It begins with some beautiful aurora followed by a view of the solar panels rotating (they do this every 90 mins) and a simple look at the earth whirling about through a portal window.

See also this experiment involving candy corns.

Plume Diving: The Departure

The 03.12.08 Enceladus Approach Cassini moves away from it’s risky encounter at Enceladus… This came out so cool that it looks fake.

IMAGE NOTE: 3 frames of this 13 frame animation were “faked” in that adjacent frames were used to fill in gaps. The size and position of Enceladus was simply adjusted on these frames to create a smoother transition where needed. Additionally, the last 3 frames had stars added to the background for consistency.

Cassini’s Io Animation

Io Eclipse Animation Check out this great animation found on the internet a while back that was compiled from images taken by the Cassini probe as it flew by Jupiter at the tail end of 2000. It used to be hosted at a U.S. astrogeology site which no longer exists and the animation was credited to Paul Geissler. Those glowing dots are active volcanoes. At the very end there is a blast of light from a crescent Io coming into view. The features are strikingly similar to those of the “dark side” image of Io published here during the New Horizons encounter, including the “auroral displays in Io’s tenuous atmosphere interacting with Jupiter’s magnetosphere”.

NOTE: The animation was cleaned up a bit by wanderingspace.net just for presentation purposes. This mostly included increasing the canvas size, removing all the surrounding noise and darkening the disc of Io itself.

Ranger IX, Camera A

A while back wanderingspace posted 2 great animations of the Mariner flybys of Mars. They had a great nickelodeon feel to them and are two of the best posts on this blog (in our opinion). So when Emily Lackdawalla posted recently on the first “earthrise” as seen from a probe in orbit around the moon – she linked to this great database of moon shot mission images from the 60’s. Glimpsing at these collections, it was clear that there existed the same potential for another nickelodeon style animation of a trip to the moon. Ranger IX, Camera A Animation

The mission shown above is Ranger IX and there are many more potential animations that can be made from other Ranger missions or from the Lunar Orbiter series of images. Maybe one day.

Sorry for the huge file size… about 1M.

Saturn and Titan Animation by U. Gordan

Saturn Titan Animation 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.

What Is “Outside In” the Movie?

Titan from Saturn’s Rings from “Outside In” Not totally sure what this film will be like, but the potential of someone using the best imagery of the Cassini mission to create 3 dimensional environments set to music seems quite exciting. There’s not a ton of animation on the site, but what there is seems pretty good (despite the numerous screen shots of the back of someone’s head watching various pop stars?!). The above image is a still sample of what one would hope would represent the majority of what might be coming. Go to outsideinthemovie.com and check out the clips in the WATCH section, especially the “Basement IMAX” one which explains part of what he is attempting. But in order to make it happen, it seems donations are in order. Open up your wallet and help make it happen or take part in the process by submitting some images of yourself as requested by the creator (see the SUPPORT section).

Image Note: According to the film maker, “There is no computer-generated imagery in the film. No 3D models, no texture-mapping or any other rendered data. The only thing that has been done is taking many actual photos (including some high resolution mosaics) and using some very special and computer-intensive processing to create the feeling of depth and movement”.