Tag Archives: Earth

Curiosity sees a familiar “evening star.”

It’s enough to make one homesick. This view of Earth from Mars.

pia17936-640

Taken by the Mars rover Curiosity 80 minutes after sunset during the rover’s 529th Martian day (Jan. 31, 2014).

PIA17935_modest

This image includes the moon and this is obvious in the zoomed in view (right).

According to the caption:

“This image combines information from three separate exposures taken by Mastcam’s right-eye camera, which has a telephoto lens. The body in the upper half of the image is Earth, shining brighter than any star in the Martian night sky. In the lower half of the image is Earth’s moon, with its brightness enhanced to aid visibility. To a viewer on Mars, even the moon would appear as bright as a very bright star.”

Thanks to Jet Propulsion Laboratory | News.

Similar articles

Christmas present from NASA

Photography can produce some great abstract art. Even if it’s of the very large or very small.

Here’s some really beautiful abstract art based on photograph of earth taken from orbit.

Great-Salt-Desert

The Dasht-e Kavir, or Great Salt Desert, is the larger of Iran’s two major deserts, which occupy most of the country’s central plateau.

From the introduction:

In 1960, the United States put its first Earth-observing environmental satellite into orbit around the planet. Over the decades, these satellites have provided invaluable information, and the vantage point of space has provided new perspectives on Earth. This book celebrates Earth’s aesthetic beauty in the patterns, shapes, colors, and textures of the land, oceans, ice, and atmosphere. The book features 75 stunning images of Earth from the Terra, Landsat 5, Landsat 7, EO-1, and Aqua satellites. Sensors on these satellites can measure light outside of the visible range, so the images show more than what is visible to the naked eye. The images are intended for viewing enjoyment rather than scientific interpretation. The beauty of Earth is clear, and the artistry ranges from the surreal to the sublime.

Earth as art—enjoy the gallery.

NASA Science Mission Directorate

Earth Science Division

Download your gift:

As a PDF

As the Accompanying iPad App

via NASA – “Earth As Art”.

Thanks to ebook friendly

Similar articles

Scientific shift work

Some of the people on teams managing the rovers on Mars call themselves “Rover drivers” or “Mars drivers.” Of course, things are not that simple. It is not possible to drive a vehicle on Mars in real-time from Earth. Instead, computer code must be uploaded to enable the vehicle to carry out planned manoeuvres, analyses, etc., autonomously.  And the computer code can only be written after the results of the previous commands are known.

In practice, this involves large teams of engineers, software experts and scientists. Each team has their own work – and the teams need to interact to plan the rover’s work, iron out priorities, and deal with problems. This work has to occur at strange times, and with deadlines, to fit in with the activity and day/night programme on Mars. Energy limitations means that the rover usually does not operate during the Martial day.

So all this work, the meetings of each team and their joint meetings, and decisions about planned activity must take place before the rover “wakes up.” And because the results from the previous day’s activities feed into this detailed decision cannot be made and code written until after that data has been downloaded and analysed.

The graphic above was shown in one of the recent Mars Science Laboratory – Curiosity – media briefings. It indicates the time line for the Laboratory to be active (“awake”), the downloading of data via the Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance orbiters, assessment of data, planning of future activity (particularly that for the next day), interaction of engineering, scientific and software teams, integration of plans, validation and approval and then the sending of the new commands to Curiosity as it “wakes up” for the new day.

I note they have even left a brief time gap “margin” to handle unforeseen problems.

It must be fascinating to work in large teams like this on scientific projects. And I am sure there are also political and emotional problems that need management as well as the engineering, scientific and software problems. Apparently with groups managing Mars rovers the shift-work, and the drift in shift times because of mismatch in the length of the Earth day and the Mars sol, causes “jet lag.” So the emotional and human issues resulting from this also need management.

Andrew Kessler gives an idea of the procedures involved in managing Mars rovers and landers in his book Martian Summer: Robot Arms, Cowboy Spacemen, and My 90 Days with the Phoenix Mars Mission. This is based on his own experiences as a journalist embedded in the teams managing the recent Phoenix lander. It’s a bit of an eye-opener – at least for someone who hasn’t worked in such large scientific teams before.

See Working on Mars for my review of that book.

Similar articles

Another lousy photo of the sun?

As a photo of the sun this doesn’t look very impressive – until you realise it was taken using neutrinos!

And also that it was taken through the earth – when the sun was on the other side of the earth!

An exposure of 503 day was used and neutrinos detected using a 50 000-ton water pool located 1 km underground. Neutrinos have an extremely weak interaction with other matter. Most of them pass through the earth without interaction and the detection relies on Cherenkov radiation emitted during a rare interaction with an electron in the water.

Thanks to: The Sun seen through the Earth in “neutrino light”

What’s your number?

Bloody hell, there are three times as many people on the planet today as there were when I was born!

No wonder I find the cities and traffic too busy.

Got the data from A BBC News web page – 7 billion people and you: What’s your number?.

Empathy for colleagues

Science follows certain procedures, but does the media get the signal? Credit: CSIRO

The Australian astrophysicist Mathew Bailes recently got international recognition for his part in the discovery of an exoplanet which could be made of diamond. As he says: “Following the publication of our finding in the journal Science, our research received amazing attention from the world’s media.” (See Diamond planets, climate change and the scientific method)

It’s always nice when a scientific discovery, and the work of a scientist, receive public attention. Even though, as he says:

” in the overall scheme of things, it isn’t that important.

And yet the diamond planet has been hugely successful in igniting public curiosity about the universe in which we live.

In that sense, for myself and my co-authors, I suspect it will be among the greatest discoveries of our careers.

Our host institutions were thrilled with the publicity and most of us enjoyed our 15 minutes of fame.”

It could have been different

But here’s the lesson in this story:

“The attention we received was 100% positive, but how different that could have been.

How so? Well, we could have been climate scientists.”

And he asks you to consider a parallel scenario;

“Imagine for a minute that, instead of discovering a diamond planet, we’d made a breakthrough in global temperature projections.

Let’s say we studied computer models of the influence of excessive greenhouse gases, verified them through observations, then had them peer-reviewed and published in Science.

Instead of sitting back and basking in the glory, I suspect we’d find a lot of commentators, many with no scientific qualifications, pouring scorn on our findings.

People on the fringe of science would be quoted as opponents of our work, arguing that it was nothing more than a theory yet to be conclusively proven.

There would be doubt cast on the interpretation of our data and conjecture about whether we were “buddies” with the journal referees.

If our opponents dug really deep they might even find that I’d once written a paper on a similar topic that had to be retracted.

Before long our credibility and findings would be under serious question.”

And:

“Sadly, the same media commentators who celebrate diamond planets without question are all too quick to dismiss the latest peer-reviewed evidence that suggests man-made activities are responsible for changes in concentrations of CO2 in our atmosphere.The scientific method is universal. If we selectively ignore it in certain disciplines, we do so at our peril.”

It’s worth those of us outside the climate science community reflecting on this. Scientists and non-scientists alike.

Consider the continuing harassment of Dr Michael Mann who is still be pursued by climate deniers and conservative politicians. What do they want. His emails from years back! (see Professor turns to law to protect climate-change work).

Similar articles

Atlantis returns home – viewed from ISS

This is a time exposure taken from the International Space Station (ISS). It shows the plasma trail of Atlantis as it travelled through the atmosphere on its final return from orbit.

Thanks to NASA – Station Crew Views Shuttle Landing.

Seven years of discovery

While the Shuttle launches and the International Space Station get the media attention I am always impressed by the deep space research that is quietly going on.

This weekend NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will (hopefully) go into orbit around the asteroid Vesta. This photo of Vesta was taken by the spacecraft last weekend.

With a diameter of about 500 km Vesta is the second largest asteroid in the solar system. Dawn will spend one year orbiting Vesta and will then travel to the largest asteroid (1000 km diameter) Ceres. There it will spend 5 months in orbit carrying out similar studies.

Because these asteroids may have remained intact since formation of the solar system they should reveal information dating back to that time. They also have differences (Vesta formed a few million years before Ceres) which will also be illuminating.

This diagram shows the trajectory of Dawn’s trip, together with dates.

See also:
Dawn Spacecraft Poised to Enter Orbit at Vesta Asteroid: Scientific American.
All eyes on Vesta
Looming Larger: Dawn Approaches Vesta, Enters Orbit July 15-16

Similar articles


New views of eclipses

There’s been a few eclipses lately. Here’s some photos showing a different perspective of eclipses.

This one was one of 1999 August 11 solar eclipse was one of the last ever taken from the Mir space station. The two bright spots that appear on the upper left are thought to be Jupiter and Saturn. Mir was deorbited in a controlled re-entry in 2001.

And another one by Thierry Legault of the partial eclipse seen in Europe a few days ago. With a silhouette of the International Space Station. As Astronomy Picture of the Day says this photo captured “planet Earth’s two largest satellites against the bright solar disk”

Thanks to Astronomy Picture of the Day

Similar articles

Enhanced by Zemanta

The ISS – a decade of growth

There was to be a shuttle launch today (delayed several times already). One of the last few before the shuttles are retired.

So it’s appropriate to reflect on the fact that this month marks a decade of human occupation of the International Space Station (ISS). It has now been continuously crewed since November 2000.

Scientific American marks the occasion with a slide show portraying the development of the ISS from “from a single Russian module to a behemoth orbital outpost the size of a football field.” (see A Decade on the Fly: Building the International Space Station–Module by Module [Slide Show]).

The Zarya Module, in the first photograph, provided an early source of propulsion and power. It was the first piece of the ISS to reach orbit being launched into space in November 1998 on a Russian Proton rocket.

The ten photos below from the Scientific American article show how the space station grew module by module. Go to the article to get a description of each stage of the ISS evolution.

November 1998

Continue reading