Tag Archives: planet

Bit windy round your way? Count yourself lucky.

Behold: one of the largest and longest-lived storms ever recorded in our Solar System. To wit:

First seen in late 2010, the above cloud formation in the northern hemisphere of Saturn started larger than the Earth and soon spread completely around the planet. The storm was tracked not only from Earth but from up close by the robotic Cassini spacecraft, then orbiting Saturn. Pictured here in false coloured infrared in February, orange colours indicate clouds deep in the atmosphere, while light colours highlight clouds higher up. The rings of Saturn are seen nearly edge-on as the thin blue horizontal line. The warped dark bands are the shadows of the rings cast onto the cloud tops by the Sun to the upper left. A source of radio noise from lightning, the intense storm was thought to relate to seasonal changes when spring emerges in the north of Saturn. After raging for over six months, the iconic storm circled the entire planet and then tried to absorb its own tail — which surprisingly caused it to fade away.

(ImageCassini Imaging TeamSSIJPLESANASA)


Wel, as you can see, it’s a little beige in places but it’s taken a long time to find that out.

In 2015, multispectral images were sent back to Earth by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft as it shot by Pluto at 80,000km/h. But processing these (in order to approximate what the human eye might see) took time. To wit:

The result featured here, released three years after the raw data was acquired by New Horizons, is the highest resolution true colour image of Pluto ever taken. Visible in the image is the light-coloured, heart-shaped, Tombaugh Regio, with the unexpectedly smooth Sputnik Planitia, made of frozen nitrogen, filling its western lobe. New Horizons found the dwarf-planet to have a surprisingly complex surface composed of many regions having perceptibly different hues. In total, though, Pluto is mostly brown, with much of its muted colour originating from small amounts of surface methane energised by ultraviolet light from the Sun.

Full sized image here.

(Image: NASAJHU APLSwRIAlex Parker)


German educational design studio Kurzgesagt explores the many, many obstacles in the way of a functioning human base on the Red Planet. Lethal radiation, minimal energy sources, pesky dust clouds. Those kinds of things. To wit:

Humans love to explore. Strangely enough even horrible places – like Mars. Let’s see how building a Mars base could work and how insanely nerve-wracking exactly it would be.

Previously: In Fareness