Outer Worlds and The Sunset Simulator


Different planet usually means different atmosphere. Different atmosphere means different optics mumbo-jumbo (thoroughly explained across the internet, like here). Different optical properties usually lead to different sunset colours (and also there seems to be some sort of evidence that the atmosphere composition may be correlated to the ability to support life, but it’s mainly about sunset colours).

Obviously, NASA created a sunset simulator, because why not.

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Jupiter’s Great Red Spot in 3D

Great Red Spot

It’s been a while since the last post, but this was worth it.

Sometimes, our infinite quest to discover…well, everything…brings us material that is both fascinating and interesting for everyone.
This usually means images instead of numbers, but this time we’re talking about 3D CG awesomeness!

Our casting for the day features Jupiter and Juno, the dynamic duo that certainly doesn’t fear the spotlight.
Their performance? A deep dive into Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, to discover what lies underneath the cloud tops.

“The solar system’s most famous storm is almost one-and-a-half Earths wide, and has roots that penetrate about 200 miles (300 kilometers) into the planet’s atmosphere. Juno found that the Great Red Spot’s roots go 50 to 100 times deeper than Earth’s oceans and are warmer at the base than they are at the top”

Great Red Spot
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

Data was gathered by Juno’s Microwave Radiometer (MWR), which is able to “look” through Jupiter’s clouds by analyzing different lengths of microwaves.

Great Red Spot Layers
Great Red Spot data from Juno’s MWR

However, we still don’t know what the future of the Great Red Spot will be. While it may have existed for more than 350 years, it has been shrinking quite rapidly.
And as always, thanks NASA!

Source: NASA

About Mars and the loss of atmosphere

NASA just announced another groundbreaking discovery regarding the history of Mars.

Data from the MAVEN spacecraft revealed how Mars loses 100 grams of its atmosphere every second.

Why? solar winds, and obviously solar storms, which increase the loss rate even more.

Mars vs Solar Storm
Mars vs Solar Storm

As explained in the official article from NASA:

[quote]The solar wind is a stream of particles, mainly protons and electrons, flowing from the sun’s atmosphere at a speed of about one million miles per hour. The magnetic field carried by the solar wind as it flows past Mars can generate an electric field, much as a turbine on Earth can be used to generate electricity. This electric field accelerates electrically charged gas atoms, called ions, in Mars’ upper atmosphere and shoots them into space.[/quote]

This is, of course, an extremely interesting discovery, which helps scientists to understand how Mars lost its atmosphere.

However, browsing my news feeds, I stumbled upon a good number of misleading headlines. This is not HOW Mars lost it’s atmosphere, it’s one of the responsible factors.

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The Moon, today’s maps and the mysterious dark side

Today's maps and the mysterious dark side

There was a time in human history when no living creature had ever seen the hidden face of our beloved satellite.
As you know, earthlings can only admire one side of the Moon. The other side can only be seen from space.
For millennia the laws of physics stood in the way of our quest for knowledge, until one day we learned to use such laws to our advantage.
To go back to that day, we need to set our time machine to an astonishing…

56 years ago

Yep, it was the 26th of October, 1959. A lot of people still alive today was born at a time when we didn’t even know what the other side of the Moon looked like (let alone landing on it).
On that day, as described on the official mission page:

[quote style=”boxed”]The Luna 3 spacecraft returned the first views ever of the far side of the Moon. The first image was taken at 03:30 UT on 7 October at a distance of 63,500 km after Luna 3 had passed the Moon and looked back at the sunlit far side. The last image was taken 40 minutes later from 66,700 km. A total of 29 photographs were taken, covering 70% of the far side. The photographs were very noisy and of low resolution, but many features could be recognized. [/quote]

The Russian spacecraft was equipped with an analog camera, an automated film processing lab, a scanner and a transmitter. Yes, it was cutting edge tech back then.

These instruments produced the first picture of the B side of the Moon. The people who looked at the picture as it was transmitted back to Earth, also happend to be the first humans who actually saw the other side of our satellite.

The original picture was this:

First image of the far side of the Moon
First image of the far side of the Moon


The full gallery can be found here.

Today, there’s a little guy up there called Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter taking better pictures (among many other things). Here’s a nice comparison made by NASA and published on this article.

Side by side comparison
Side by side comparison of the first ever photograph of the lunar far side, from Luna 3, and a visualization of the same view using LRO data.


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First images from New Horizon’s downlink released!

When I was around 8 years old, I asked my parents to buy a big book called “Planet’s Atlas”. Since then, I’ve always been extremely fascinated by the mysteries of the Universe.
However, I was a bit disappointed by the fact Pluto didn’t have pictures as beautiful as the other planets. For almost 20 years I wished someday I’d be able to see the surface of Pluto as it really is.

Finally, July 14, 2015, my wish became reality. Now the year-long downlink of every bit of data recorded by New Horizons is finally started.
Here’s some of the pictures uploaded by NASA. You can find the related post following this link.

Thank you NASA for making my wish come true!