Photographed in November of 2012 by the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera, this is a photograph of a hurricane nearly 1,250 miles wide on the surface of Saturn. Via NASA:
The spinning vortex of Saturn’s north polar storm resembles a deep red rose of giant proportions surrounded by green foliage in this false-color image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Measurements have sized the eye at a staggering 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) across with cloud speeds as fast as 330 miles per hour (150 meters per second).
This image is among the first sunlit views of Saturn’s north pole captured by Cassini’s imaging cameras. When the spacecraft arrived in the Saturnian system in 2004, it was northern winter and the north pole was in darkness. Saturn’s north pole was last imaged under sunlight by NASA’s Voyager 2 in 1981; however, the observation geometry did not allow for detailed views of the poles. Consequently, it is not known how long this newly discovered north-polar hurricane has been active.
The Cassini–Huygens is a robotic spacecraft launched in 1997 for the purpose of studying Saturn. Since arriving in 2004 the orbiter’s mission has been extended twice. It most recently studied the Great White Spot, a massive storm that occurs at roughly 30 year intervals that is so large it can be seen from Earth with a simple telescope. (via this isn’t happiness)
French photographer Stephane Vetter captured this outstanding time-lapse of the night sky using a Sigma 8 mm fisheye lens, meaning that what you see in the video is a true representation of the entire visible sky. Titled Leonid and Zodiacal Light, the brief but jaw-dropping clip was shot November 17th of this year and includes a five-hour star trail and Vetter even takes time to label signifiant stars and other objects visible in the sky. Make sure you watch it full-screen.
100,000 Stars is a new experiment for Chrome web browsers (or any other WebGL browser like Firefox or Safari) that lets you interactively explore the Milky Way galaxy with your mouse and scroll wheel. I found it to be a bit more cumbersome on my laptop trackpad so if you’re in the same position click the ‘Take a Tour’ button for a pretty lovely demo. (via the awesomer)
I’ve seen several different videos of Curiosity’s descent down to the Mars, and while incredible because of what they depict, none approached the frame-rate we might normally expect from an actual film. Using footage provided by NASA, Reddit user Godd2 just spent the last four days on behalf of all humankind creating a stunning interpolated HD version of the descent. In layman’s terms interpolation involves taking a choppy video, in this case NASA’s 4 frames-per-second video, and rendering the “missing” frames in between resulting in an incredibly smooth 25 frames-per-second video. This is, I believe, the closest approximation ever of what it might feel like to land on another planet in real time using actual footage. Amazing. Here it is on YouTube.
Last week I stayed up well into the night waiting for news of Curiosity’ssuccessful landing on Mars. Although the first few dusty, low-res images were a bit underwhelming they were no less incredible: after traveling for over 8 months and 352 million miles we successfully landed a 2,000 pound car on another planet. Thankfully the wait for incredible imagery is finally over. The folks over at EDS Systems have stitched together a high-resolution interactive panorama of Curiosity’s landing site from where she’ll soon embark on at least two years of research and investigation of the red planet.
Over the past two months NASA has been releasing a number of wonderful long exposure photographs taken by astronaut Don Pettit aboard the International Space Station. While there are many photos like these taken from the perspective of the Earth’s surface, Pettit’s images are unique in that they incorporate the passing blur of entire illuminated cities, aurora, and the sporadic flashes of lightening from thunderstorms. Check out many more photos from the series here. (via petapixel)
NASA has just published what it calls the “most amazing highest resolution image of Earth ever”, dubbed Blue Marble. The 64-megapixel image weighing in at 8000×8000 pixels is actually a composite photograph taken on January 4th of this year using a number of captures stitched together from NASA’s Earth-observing satellite Suomi NPP. Make sure to see this sucker full size to really appreciate the details. (via gizmodo via nick ulivieri)