Sunday, May 13, 2007

Absolutely Awesome Images of Space

The technical and theoretical aspects of space and space travel are fascinating to me and most likely many others but, sometimes it's nice to just step back and take a look at why going to space would be awesome for the view alone. I have compiled several of my favorite images of space. Many were taken by Hubble but not all.

Known as the "Pale Blue Dot," this image was taken on February 14th, 1990 by Voyager 1. Four billion miles away from Earth, it is the longest distance away from Earth that a picture of Earth has been taken.

We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.
-Carl Sagan
The above quote by Carl Sagan is one of my favorite quotes of all time. It really puts things into perspective.

Another "Pale Blue Dot" taken by Cassini that is perhaps even more stunning (though not as far).
Explanation Courtesy
In the shadow of Saturn, unexpected wonders appear. The robotic Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn recently drifted in giant planet's shadow for about 12 hours and looked back toward the eclipsed Sun. Cassini saw a view unlike any other. First, the night side of Saturn is seen to be partly lit by light reflected from its own majestic ring system. Next, the rings themselves appear dark when silhouetted against Saturn, but quite bright when viewed away from Saturn and slightly scattering sunlight, in the above exaggerated color image. Saturn's rings light up so much that new rings were discovered, although they are hard to see in the above image. Visible in spectacular detail, however, is Saturn's E ring, the ring created by the newly discovered ice-fountains of the moon Enceladus, and the outermost ring visible above. Far in the distance, visible on the image left just above the bright main rings, is the almost ignorable pale blue dot of Earth.

The Helix Nebula. I like this one because it reminds me of the Eye of Sauron from "The Lord of The Rings" trilogy.

From the Ashes of the First Stars. Above is one of the most beautiful pictures I have ever seen. It is an artist's impression of a primordial quasar surrounded by sheets of gas, dust, stars and early star clusters.

The Jupiter's 4th largest moon IO. The spectacular surface is dotted with volcanoes and as a result of the many volcanoes its appearance is created by the sulfur and silicates released. The bluish cloud seen coming from the surface is known as the Prometheus Plume and is the result of a volcano. It is speculated that the plume has been active for over 18 years (from 1997).

The Vela Supernova Remnant. It is referred to as a remnant because it is left over from a supernova that exploded 10-12 thousand years ago.

The Flame Nebula. The beautiful array of light is caused by excited gas particles (primarily Hydrogen).
The Eta Carinae Nebula (aka the Great Nebula in Carina or simply the Carina Nebula). Breathtaking is the only way to really describe this photo.

I hope you all enjoyed these as much as I did when I first stumbled upon them.

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Tesco Credit Card said...

I find it strange that the texts en up sounding a lot like the way people speak when they recount the experience.

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