Too Boldly Go…..

Space the finale frontier…… Well that’s what some say. I have always been interested in space, my wife says it is because I am a bit of a nerd. I love images of exploding stars, nebulae and plants sat still in a an ocean of stars.

Few people for the foreseeable future will have the  opportunity to venture to the stars, the closest we can get now is a aeroplane that will take you to the outer atmosphere for a price that  most would never be able to afford. The photographic images NASA make can appease those of us who want to step foot on another planet.

I didn’t get excited when the new Mars Rover took off on its journey to Mars. I was excited when it landed (I always found the hype in the take-off and then failure in landing of these rovers so I try and control myself).

The first pictures sent back were black and white. These images shatter the expectations and ground into us the reality of what Mars looks like.

This is an excellent example of what our expectations are for space. The picture shows a wide landscape with a gradated sky and a planet rising like our moons over the sky. The features we draw are those that we know. The Canyon could well be the grand canyon except for its red tone. The artistic toning of mars is strange, either it is very red like the Eyries rock in Australia or more orange as in the picture below

The violent sand-storm is over, and all is calm over the deep canyon on Mars.
Could you hear the sound of water that used to be at the bottom in the old days ?

The reality for some maybe disappointing, shattering the Hollywood mars tinted glasses. The images are still amazing, taken on the land of a planet which is not earth.

With the addition of four high-resolution Navigation Camera, or Navcam, images, taken on Aug. 18 (Sol 12), Curiosity’s 360-degree landing-site panorama now includes the highest point on Mount Sharp visible from the rover. Mount Sharp’s peak is obscured from the rover’s landing site by this highest visible point.

The landscape is alien compared to the expectations we anticipated. The black and white images show a smooth surface rising gradually. The mountain in the back ground is mount Sharpe and is about 12 miles from the rover. The images are for scientific use first and secondly aesthetic. I would presume the NASA team have control of the camera so the composition is human made.

A chapter of the layered geological history of Mars is laid bare in this postcard from NASA’s Curiosity rover. The image shows the base of Mount Sharp, the rover’s eventual science destination.
For scale, an annotated version of the figure highlights a dark rock that is approximately the same size as Curiosity. The pointy mound in the center of the image, looming above the rover-sized rock, is about 1,000 feet (300 meters) across and 300 feet (100 meters) high.

The colour images though have a bit more of an artistic touch. The colouring of the image above was done simulating lighting conditions on earth to help analyse the terrain.  The image is a section of a larger image taken on the rovers 100mm camera. The image resolution seems to be less but it does go a way to show that the colours of mars are slightly muted when adapted to earths lighting conditions. The red is not a high contrasted and saturated colour as we expect, but a more pastel yellow orange merging into red with added tones of blue in the shadows.

This image taken by the Mast Camera (MastCam) on NASA’s Curiosity rover highlights the interesting geology of Mount Sharp, a mountain inside Gale Crater, where the rover landed. Prior to the rover’s landing on Mars, observations from orbiting satellites indicated that the lower reaches of Mount Sharp, below the line of white dots, are composed of relatively flat-lying strata that bear hydrated minerals. Those orbiter observations did not reveal hydrated minerals in the higher, overlying strata.
The MastCam data now reveal a strong discontinuity in the strata above and below the line of white dots, agreeing with the data from orbit. Strata overlying the line of white dots are highly inclined (dipping from left to right) relative to lower, underlying strata. The inclination of these strata above the line of white dots is not obvious from orbit. This provides independent evidence that the absence of hydrated minerals on the upper reaches of Mount Sharp may coincide with a very different formation environment than lower on the slopes. The train of white dots may represent an “unconformity,” or an area where the process of sedimentation stopped.

This color panorama shows a 360-degree view of the landing site of NASA’s Curiosity rover, including the highest part of Mount Sharp visible to the rover. That part of Mount Sharp is approximately 12 miles (20 kilometers) away from the rover.

To see a large scale version of the image click here

In the end though which images of space do we like. I think although it is with great scientific achievement that we have managed to send man to the moon and have landed probes and rovers of celestial bodies these images inhibit our imagination. When I know in my life time I will not be able to bounce around on the moon or fly a spaceship round the sun, my imagination can create the images for me.

I created the above image using Google Sketch Up for the model and Photoshop to paint it and create the background. The image is a science fiction fantasy.

Let Me Know Your Thoughts, I Know You Have Some

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