Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wiring the solar system

One of the more historically significant changes for our species over the past ten years is that we've started to wire the solar system with an array of sensors. Or at least more so than at anytime previously in our history.

The Solar Dynamics Observatory: Highlights of our sun's activity from this past year 

Prior to this past decade we knew the other worlds of our solar system were out there. People looked at them with low-resolution telescopes on a semi-regular basis. We had a few somewhat-detailed photos from the narrow slices of times when the first generations of our long range probes flew by. Now, however, we have platforms orbiting Mars and Saturn, transmitting streams of images. We watch the sun in high resolution 24-hours each day. Rovers continue to generate stunning on-the-ground images of Mars.

We are drawing the sol system more and more into the realm of the known and the seen and the real time.

And it is surprisingly beautiful viewed through the eyes of our machines.

All images public domain, primarily drawn from NASA and Wikicommons 

"Blueberries" on Mars.  

Rover tracks on Mars

The Hebes Chasm, as seen by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter 

Saturn's Moon, Helene, as photographed by Cassini 

The International Space Station, maintaining a full time human presence in Earth orbit.

Radar map of the surface of Venus from the 1990s Magellan orbiter.
Colored with hues observed by the Soviet Venera 13 lander on the surface.

Martian sunset - Curiosity 

Martian sunset tweaked to simulate natural colors by Olivier de Goursac

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