Water Water Everywhere

Everyone knows that Earth is a “water-world,” with oceans covering 71% of its surface and at least as much contained within our planet’s mantle deep below its crust. But there’s also liquid water to be found elsewhere in the Solar System: on Mars, on the dwarf planets Ceres and Pluto, and also on the icy moons of Jupiter,…

Voyager’s Valentine Turns 25 Today

If you’re in love with space exploration then you’ll fall for this: it’s the picture of Earth taken from the Voyager 1 spacecraft after it passed the orbit of Pluto in 1990. That image of our planet from almost 4 billion miles away inspired Carl Sagan to write his famous “Pale Blue Dot” passage, and…

A Matter of Scale

Note: this post was first published on Feb. 22, 2011. I’m reposting it again today because 1. the video creator has since updated the soundtrack, and 2. it’s still awesome. One of the things that fascinates me so much about the Universe is the incredible vastness of scale, distance and size. On Earth we have…

Voyager’s Long-Distance Valentine

This is from a post I originally published in 2010. I’ll keep trotting it out until it’s not cool anymore. (Which I don’t think will ever happen.) On February 14, 1990, after nearly 13 years of traveling the solar system, the Voyager 1 spacecraft passed the orbit of Pluto and turned its camera around to…

Hidden Ice Found on Mercury!

Who says Mercury’s too hot to be really cool? Even three times closer to the Sun than we are, lacking atmosphere and with scorching daytime temperatures of 425 ºC (800 ºF), Mercury still has places more than cold enough to hide ice. This is the most recent announcement from the MESSENGER mission team: (very nearly) confirmed…

How Big Is The Solar System?

“You may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.” – Douglas Adams Standard classroom models and textbook illustrations of the Solar System, regardless of how pretty they are, all share one thing in common: they’re wrong. Ok, maybe not wrong, but definitely inaccurate… especially in regards…

Onward to the Edge: a Space Musical

Can’t see the video below? Click here. A perfect accompaniment to Carl Sagan’s birthday (he would have been 77 today) here’s a wonderful music video created by John D. Boswell as part of his Symphony of Science project. Featuring Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Cox and Carolyn Porco, this takes you on an inspirational journey around…

Three Weeks on Jupiter

Can’t see the video below? Click here. Check out this fascinating new-and-improved video of Jupiter’s swirling cloud belts in action, made up of Voyager 1 image data acquired from January 6 through January 29, 1979. Digital artist Björn Jónsson assembled this high-definition animation from 58 images skillfully color-composited and tweened together to create a smooth video….

A Matter of Scale

One of the things that fascinates me so much about the Universe is the incredible vastness of scale, distance and size. On Earth we have virtually nothing to compare to the kinds of sizes seen in space. We look up at the stars and planets in the night sky but they are just bright points…

From the LITD Archives: Voyager’s Valentine

On February 14, 1990, after nearly 13 years of traveling the outer solar system the Voyager 1 spacecraft passed the orbit of Pluto and turned its camera around to take a series of photos of the planets. The image above shows those photos, isolated from the original series and labeled left to right, top to…

A Sense of “Scale”

Here’s a very cool animation by motion designer Brad Goodspeed, showing what our night sky might look like were some of the other planets in our solar system at the same distance from us as the Moon. (About 240,000 miles / 384,000 km.) Wait for Jupiter to make quite an entrance… While watching the video…

Shades of Blue

Just some more Saturn beauty. Composite of raw image data in RGB filters from Cassini’s wide-angle camera, taken on July 15, 2010. (Not sure what moon that is.) Have a great weekend! Image: NASA/JPL/SSI. Edited by J. Major.