Voyager’s Grand Tour: a Webcomic

Do you like space exploration? Do you like comics? Then this is for you. “Voyager” is a webcomic by LA-based artist Jed McGowan about the Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched from Kennedy Space Center on September 5, 1977. Over the next three years it flew by Jupiter and Saturn, taking unprecedented photos of the giant planets…

Blue Marble, Pale Blue Dot…whatever you call it, it’s Home

35 years ago today, September 18, 1977, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft turned its camera homeward just about two weeks after its launch, capturing the image above from a distance of 7.25 million miles (11.66 million km). It was the first time an image of its kind had ever been taken, showing the entire Earth and Moon together…

Voyager’s Visit to Uranus

Voyager 2 may have been the second of NASA’s twin exploration spacecraft but it launched first, 35 years ago today on August 20, 1977. 8 1/2 years later it became the first (and last!) spacecraft to visit the gas giant Uranus, the third largest planet in the Solar System.

The Curious Central Peaks of Iapetus

Saturn’s 914-mile (1471-km) -wide Iapetus (pronounced eye-AH-pe-tus) has a particularly curious feature: a chain of 20-kilometer (12-mile) high mountains encircling the moon’s equator. On the anti-Saturnian side of Iapetus, the ridge appears to break up, forming distinct, partially bright mountains. The Voyager I and Voyager II spacecraft provided the first knowledge of the peaks, and…

A Backwards Moon

At 1,680 miles across, the frigid and wrinkled Triton is distant Neptune’s largest moon. It orbits the planet backwards – that is, in the opposite direction that Neptune rotates – and is the only moon one of only two moons in our solar system to do so. This leads many astronomers to believe that Triton is…

Jupiter: Guardian of the Solar System

Can’t see the video below? Click here. Here’s a great presentation made for the NOAA and NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center about the giant planet Jupiter, part of the Science of a Sphere series. It shows the size and power of the huge gas planet and how it dominates its region of the solar system. Indeed,…

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….

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…

Sweet Sixteen: Jupiter in Motion

This video, made up of 16 images assembled from Voyager 1 data by astro-artist Björn Jónsson and animated by Ian Regan, shows a time period spanning 16 Jupiter days (about 7 days Earth-time) wherein we can briefly observe the dynamics of the different cloud belts and spinning storms in the gas giant’s swirling atmosphere. Especially prominent is the…

Spot On

Skillfully reworked by astrophotographer and Unmanned Spaceflight member Björn Jónsson, this section from a Voyager 1 image mosaic shows the Great Red Spot as it appeared in March of 1979 in amazing detail…with sunlight coming from the right side, the sense of the clouds really being three-dimensional and that you’re looking down through layers and…

Blast from the Past

This photo of Neptune’s largest moon Triton was taken by Voyager 2 on August 24, 1989…nearly 21 years ago! With a resolution of about six miles per pixel it reveals the rugged mountainous terrain of this frozen moon in the far reaches of our solar system, including its signature “cantaloupe terrain” seen here in the…

Inside the Hurricane

The largest storm in the solar system, Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot, is a monstrous 15,000-mile-wide hurricane that’s been swirling in the giant planet’s mid-lower latitudes for at least 300 years. It’s believed that the storm’s colors are caused by the different elements within Jupiter’s upper atmosphere… ammonia, methane, water, hydrocarbons and other chemicals that create a…