Happy Revolution Around the Sun Card

As a fan of space exploration, you will have to love this birthday card from Chop Shop. An overly technical acknowledgment of someone’s birthday by defining exactly what it is. One additional complete orbital period moving around the sun. Even better, they design is beautifully letterpress printed both front and inside.

Above reveals the inside text — which plays it a little more safe with the messaging.

Check Out Kurzgesagt

Especially if you have kids with an appreciation for science. These guys regularly do great animations that explain complex science — appropriate for all ages. They also promise a series of cool videos about cool moons in our solar system. So far they have only covered our own, next up… Mars’ Deimos and Phobos.

Messenger, I Owe You Some Attention

To the casual observer Mercury is a body double of our own moon, but they are very different on the inside. In images, however, it offers very little that is unfamiliar from what we can see with our own eyes when we look up. Included in this post are 4 full color images of Mercury with the above being taken in February, 2012.

The above and image also from February, 2012.

Above image captured by Messenger in April, 2012.

Above taken November, 2009.

You Are the Center of the Solar System

You Are The Sun is the latest space themed tee by Chop Shop Store. Following on iconic tees that collected various deep space missions and historic Earth orbit missions, this new design draws a new picture of The Solar System as we know it today, complete with Carl Sagan’s pale blue dot.

With your head as a stand-in for The Sun — the tee includes all 8 planets, 7 major moons, The Asteroid Belt and even details little Pluto lost among countless Kuiper Belt objects. We are now providing yet another link here to get it for Men on American Apparel 2001 or Tultex tees and for Women on American Apparel 2102 tees.

50 Years of Space Exploration Map

This is so nice, but I am furious that I didn’t get to design this. This is Information design at it’s best naturally by National Geographic. You can see 50 years of robotic planetary exploration at a glance. It even includes failed missions represented by darker desaturated lines. As far as I can tell the cream colored lines are US and the red ones are Soviet. Interesting to see how many of those lines go dark around Mars.

Now where does one purchase such a thing? Perhaps this month’s issue of NG? Here is the link to it on their site complete with zoom viewer and them some kind samaritan posted a hires version to flickr.

Messenger’s Third

Messenger passed by Mercury for a third and final time before it’s orbit insertion in 2011. It entered safe mode during this swing and lost a bunch of science, but the loss is merely one of time as Messenger’s long-term mission will surely cover anything missed this time around.

iPhone Skins Featured on feulyourcreativity.com

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. 

Messenger Mercury Part 1 and 2

Messenger Mercury Parts 1 and 2 Image by Gordan Ugarkovic. The top RGB (red/green/blue) pair is from the first flyby in January while the lower is from the second flyby from this week. The color in the latter is artistic based upon the color information provided in January’s encounter.

Time for an update to the Mercury Portrait wallpaper me thinks.

Mercury As You Have Never Seen It

Mercury on Messenger’s 2nd Flybymost of the terrain east of Kuiper, toward the limb (edge) of the planet, the departing images are the first spacecraft views of that portion of Mercury’s surface. A striking characteristic of this newly imaged area is the large pattern of rays that extend from the northern region of Mercury to regions south of Kuiper.”

From the Official Messenger site.

A New Messenger at Mercury Image

Craters with Dark Halos on Mercury The newest image released from the Messenger flyby of Mercury features two craters with dark halos surrounding them. The dark material was either generated by heat from the impact or was just below the surface and brought up by the impact. Either way, the assumption is that these are “newer” features since what ever process removed the dark halos from the rest of the craters — seemingly has not had the time needed to complete the process on these.

Wallpaper: Mercury Portrait Updated

Wallpaper: Mercury Portrait Updated Jan 2008Seemed 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.

Mercury in Color II

Mercury in Color IIAnother new color image of Mercury (with a more complete globe than the previous) appeared at the Messenger site yesterday. This image can also be downloaded as the newest “portrait” image of the smallest planet here.

Highlights for 2008

Titan on Jan 05, Feb 22, Mar 25, May 12 and May 28 Cassini takes a pass at Titan on February 22 (already having made a pass this year on January 5th).

Cassini Goes Plume Diving

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.

Titan Alt

Cassini has another go at Titan on March 25.

Titan Alt

Yup – you guessed it. Cassini at Titan again on May 12th.

Phoenix on May 25

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.

Titan Alt

You can never have too much of a good thing. Cassini at Titan again on May 28th as well as July 31.

Chandrayaan on April 9

Chandrayaan becomes India’s first planetary probe as it leaves for the moon in Early July (was April).

Cassini at Enceladus Aug 11, Oct 9 and Oct 31

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 at 2867 Steins on Sept 5

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 on Jan 14 and Oct 6

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.

Cassini Enceladus Alt

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.

Lunar Recon Orbiter on Nov 3

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.

Titan Alt

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.

Mercury From 5,000 km

Mercury From 5,000 km Closer images are beginning to appear. This image comes from around 20 minutes after the closest approach.

Oh… and the mission site for those of you intrigued enough to follow more data driven material.

Messenger Reveals Unseen Mercury

Little coming in from Messenger at this point due to some unexpected bandwidth issues at the receiving stations. Apparently there has been some Ulysses (a separate Solar observing mission) anomaly that needed tending to and has taken up the available bandwidth that had been planned for Messenger’s data. The data is reportedly fine and ready for transmission to Earth, just a delay. Mercury as seen by Messenger on Jan 14, 2008

For now the mission team has released this view of Mercury from the historic swing by on January 14. Much (if not all) of this image represents areas on the planet never before seen by human eyes. Very moon-like… hoping for something to come from this encounter that will be visually exciting for we the unwashed-masses. That said, scientists and the planetary sort are thrilled to be seeing this local neighbor which has been long overdue for a follow-up mission to the Mariner mission of 33 years ago.