Mars Express is a European Space Agency probe that’s been orbiting the Red Planet since 2003, returning vast amount of data. Lately it’s been taking some amazing images and video of the tiny Martian moon Phobos, and the ESA just released this amazing footage of the lumpy potato moon passing by Jupiter as seen from the orbiting craft:
How cool is that? Engineers saw this viewing opportunity and actually changed the orbit of Mars Express to be able to see it. Phobos passed a mere 11,400 km (6800 miles) away when these shots were taken, but Jupiter was 530 million km (320 million miles) in the background. That’s why a moon only 27 km (16 miles) across can appear to dwarf a planet 140,000 km (86,000 miles) across! In the diagram here, the relative positions of all four players is shown; click to enbarsoomenate.
Last month, scientists using the GOCE spacecraft released a model of the Earth’s geoid: essentially, a shape telling you which way is down. If the Earth were a perfectly smooth sphere of constant density throughout, gravity would pull you straight down to the center (perpendicular to the surface). But if a dense hill were nearby, the gravity of that hill would change the direction of the force of gravity. The geoid maps that, and is very useful to understand things like ocean currents and such.
The resulting geoid resembles a bizarre, lumpy Earth. It was pretty neat, but now Nathanial Burton-Bradford has made it better: he took the data and made 3D anaglyphs!
This one shows the view over North and South America. It doesn’t look like much to the eye, but if you have red/green or red/blue 3D glasses, the 3D jumps right out at you. He has lots more of these from various angles over the Earth’s geoid model, and man are they weird. There’s something truly odd about seeing the Earth this way.
He has lots of other 3D images he’s made (I’ve linked to his incredible Apollo pictures before), including some amazing ones of icicles and such, at that link. If you have the 3D glasses it’s really worth perusing them.
This is so cool: 3D anaglyphs of some of the Apollo landing sites as seen by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter!
That’s the Apollo 14 site. Click to embiggen — and I urge you to do so. You can really see the lander popping right off the surface. In the Apollo 11 image you can even see that the lander feet are farther away from you than the top of the lander. It’s incredible!
Oh, I have a very cool anaglyph (red-green 3D images) for you! Stuart Atkinson from the Cumbrian Sky blog has created some fantastic anaglyphs of images from the Mars rover Opportunity as it investigates Concepcion crater. Here are some blocks that look like ejecta from the impact itself:
[Click to embiggen.]
These are beautiful! They almost look sedimentary, which at least makes some sense given that the region Opportunity is roving, Meridiani Planum, was once under water. Closeups of those rocks show they have the famous "blueberries", concretions of jarosite formed by mineral-laden water.
Stuart has lots more pictures he’s fiddled with, too, and it’s well worth your looking around his site. You should also read Emily Lakdawalla’s great description of Concepcion, talking about how we know it’s a fresh crater about 1000 years old. It’s a fascinating read.