Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Pics In Space--The Bonus Edition

Okay, okay, I admit it, I wanted space photos today of space. The pics of Earth from space that MSNBC provided were way cool and all, and I really enjoyed them, but I really love to see pictures from "out there." I wasn't pouting or anything, just a little wistful. I missed the planets and stars, and knew I didn't want to wait another month for my space photo fix. Well, it turns out I didn't have to--NASA to the rescue!! I just got an email with a link to images just released from the swing the New Horizons spacecraft made past Jupiter a while back. Remember the slingshot maneuver that New Horizons performed around Jupiter to add some speed and cut 3-5 years off the trek out to poor demoted Pluto? Remember how LORRI--the eight-inch telescope hitching a ride on NASA's spacecraft--took that really cool picture of little volcanic moon Io erupting for all she was worth? If you don't, go here and read all about it. Then come back and we'll finish talking about New Horizon's photo gallery.

So anyway, NASA's got a few more photos to show off from that little detour, including a "close-up color scan of the Little Red Spot," which is a storm that's been brewing on Jupiter since late 2005. They call it "little" because there's an even bigger system, equally uncreatively called the Great Red Spot, that's dominated Jupitorial weather for the last century, but the little guy is 70% the size of Earth. That's a storm that's the size of a planet. Thing is, it's amazingly pretty. It looks like art, all swirling purples and golds. Most of the rest of the pictures are in black and white, but still well worth seeing, from Jupiter's rings to the multiple moons. There's even a color image of Io's Tvashtar volcano erupting, red lava glowing and blue dust aloft. Here's the link to the article explaining the mission and what scientists are learning, and here's the direct link to the photo gallery. Be sure to click on "More Details" for the pics that interest you. You'll go to a larger image with a full detailed description of what you're seeing.

There aren't any photos of nebulas and galaxies to sparkle at us, and no close-up shots of the alien terrain on Mars from the rovers, but these views of other worlds from New Horizons went a long way toward satisfying my urge for new scenes from space. My bit of self-indulgence for the day is to share them with you. Enjoy.