1. Mount Sharp Panorama

    This mosaic of images from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity shows Mount Sharp in raw color  as recorded by the camera. Raw color shows the scene’s colors as they would look in a typical smart-phone camera photo, before any adjustment. [White-balancing version can be found here.]

    Mount Sharp, also called Aeolis Mons, is a layered mound in the center of Mars’ Gale Crater, rising more than 3 miles (5 kilometers) above the crater floor, where Curiosity has been working since the rover’s landing in August 2012. Lower slopes of Mount Sharp are the major destination for the mission, though the rover will first spend many more weeks around a location called “Yellowknife Bay,” where it has found evidence of a past environment favorable for microbial life.

    This mosaic was assembled from dozens of images from the 100-millimeter-focal-length telephoto lens camera mounted on the right side of the Mastcam instrument. The component images were taken during the 45th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity’s mission on Mars (Sept. 20, 2012). The sky has been filled out by extrapolating color and brightness information from the portions of the sky that were captured in images of the terrain.



  3. smithsonianmag:

    Astronomer Uses Giant Telescope to View Mars

    George A. Van Biesbroeck (1880-1974), astronomer at Yerkes Observatory observing Mars when it approached close to the earth in 1926, and using the 40 inch refracting telescope, the largest of its kind in the world.

    Photo by: Acc. 90-105 - Science Service, Records, 1920s-1970s, Smithsonian Institution Archives

    Ed note: Getting ready for the world’s largest radio telescope.

    (via smithsonianmag)





  7. Alex Noriega Photography:

    "Our Place in the Cosmos"

    My camp on Oregon’s remote Alvord Desert playa, with the Milky Way galaxy overhead.



  9. Cassiopeia at exposure times of 0.5 seconds, 1 second, 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, and 20 seconds.

    Unfortunately, I live in a city, so light pollution creeps into my space pictures.

    (Source: ifuckinglovespace)


  10. Anonymous said: why the sky is black from orbit?

    I presume you mean why does the sky appear black in pictures we see from orbit, such as images like this, where we can clearly see the Earth, the space shuttle and the ISS, but no stars or other planets:

    Or even why you can’t see other stars if you’re taking pictures on the surface of the Moon, like this picture from Apollo 11:

    The quick, simple answer is because our cameras suck.

    Here’s a better explanation.

    Generally, when astronauts take pictures in space, they’re taking pictures of something near them: the Earth, a space shuttle, the ISS, the Moon or themselves. The reflected light of these objects is much brighter than that of stars thousands, hundreds or even dozens of light years away.

    Cameras can only pick up a certain amount of information and tend to focus on the things providing the most information. As a result, they focus on the brightest objects, those reflected by the Sun, Earth and Moon. This brightness causes cameras to take pictures at faster shutter speeds, so as to capture the bright object, while not overexposing the photo.

    If you alter the camera’s settings to allow for longer exposures, however, you allow cameras to take in and process more information.

    Obviously I am not in orbit right now, but, as an example, here is a series of pictures I took last night of Cassiopeia, at exposure times of one-half, one, five, ten, fifteen and twenty seconds.

    As you can see, the longer the exposure time, the more information is received by the camera and the more stars become visible. (Also more light pollution seeps into the picture.) If I were out in the desert, instead of in the heart of a city, many more stars would be visible (and ideally much less light pollution).

    The logical question, then, is why don’t astronauts take longer exposure pictures? Well, sometimes they do.

    Astronaut Don Pettit did this during Expedition 31:

    “My star trail images are made by taking a time exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes. However, with modern digital cameras, 30 seconds is about the longest exposure possible, due to electronic detector noise effectively snowing out the image. To achieve the longer exposures I do what many amateur astronomers do. I take multiple 30-second exposures, then ‘stack’ them using imaging software, thus producing the longer exposure.”

    Using this method, Pettit created these images.


  11. theatlantic:

    The Mesmerizing Beauty of Nature’s Fractals

    Google Earth: source of information, source of wonder, source of art. In 2010, Paul Bourke, a research associate professor at the University of Western Australia, began using the service to capture images for his ongoing Google Earth Fractals series. Since then, he’s amassed an amazing collection of space-based photographs that are equal parts science and beauty: Each intoxicating image on the project’s website is accompanied by a KMZ file that lets users pinpoint the photos’ locations on their own Google Earth viewers, putting them in geographic as well as aesthetic context.

    See more. [Images: Google Earth]


  12. theatlantic:

    NASA Satellite Captures First Glimpse of Curiosity’s Tracks From Martian Orbit

    NASA’s Curiosity rover has been sending back awesome images of the Martian surface since it landed on the red planet in early August. But to see the rover itself, you need the work of another NASA craft, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been circling the planet since 2006. Earlier this week, it was able to capture the above picture of the rover, in which you can clearly see the tracks it has left in the Martian dust. (NASA notes the color in the image has been enhanced to show detail, hence the bluish tinge.)

    Read more. [Image: NASA]



  14. theatlantic:

    In Focus: Hubble’s Hidden Treasures

    Last March, the operators of the Hubble Space Telescope launched a competition, inviting amateur astronomers to dig into hundreds of thousands of images of outer space, helping discover hidden treasures and bring them to light. Yesterday, NASA and the European Space Agency announced the winners in both categories: image processing, where entrants composed their own images based on Hubble data, and image search, where entrants simply uncovered amazing images not previously released.

    See more. [Images: NASA/ESA, Josh Lake, Andre van der Hoeven, Luca Limatola, Ralf Schoofs]