Where In The Universe Challenge #14

Here’s this week’s image for the “Where In The Universe” challenge. Take a look at the image above and guess where in our universe this image was taken. Extra points if you can name the spacecraft responsible for the image as well. No peeking below before you make your guess. Of course, some of our readers out there don’t guess: they KNOW! Universe Today draws some pretty savvy space buffs who know their stuff. Hopefully this weekly challenge is helping everyone to hone (or show off?) their skills.

Ready? Go!

This week’s image is a composite image, composed of two images taken with Cassini’s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer, shows a crescent view of Saturn’s moon Titan.

The data were obtained during a flyby on July 22, 2006, at a distance of 15,700 kilometers (9,700 miles) from Titan. The image was constructed from images taken at wavelengths of 1.26 microns shown in blue, 2 microns shown in green, and 5 microns shown in red.

Not only is Titan a very intriguing world, its beautiful as well. Just a little chilly there, though.

How’d you do in this week’s challenge?

More info on this image.

This Week’s “Where In The Universe” Challenge

It’s Wednesday, so that means its time for another “Where In The Universe” challenge to test your visual knowledge of the cosmos. Guess the location of this image, and give yourself extra points if you can name the spacecraft responsible for the photo. Remember, you have 8 planets, 169 known moons, a handful of dwarf planets (there’s a new one!) and lots of asteroids in our solar system to choose from. We’re also up to over 300 known exoplanets now; however we don’t have the capability to image them quite yet, so you can cross them off your potential answer list. Don’t cheat – make your guess before you look below!

On October 13, 2000, the Expedition 3 crew of the International Space Station, took this interesting photo of the Brahmaputra River in Tibet. This river carves a narrow west-east valley between the Tibetan Plateau to the north and the Himalaya Mountains to the south, as it rushes eastward for more than 1,500 km in southwestern China. The 15-km stretch shown here is about 35 km south of the ancient Tibetan capital of Lhasa. As you can see the river flow becomes intricately braided as it works and reworks its way through extensive deposits of erosional material. This pattern indicates a combination heavy sediment discharge from tributaries and reduction of the river’s flow from either a change in gradient or perhaps even climate conditions over the watershed. The area is also known for strong, persistent westerly winds which also shapes the region.

Photos such as this one bring immediate visual understanding and appreciation of natural processes in some of the most remote locations on Earth.

How did you do?

More info on this image.

Where In The Universe Challenge #12

It’s time once again for another “Where In The Universe” challenge. See if you can guess where in our vast universe this picture was taken. Give yourself extra points if you can name the spacecraft responsible for the image, too. We’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback on this challenge, and readers seem to enjoy this weekly test of their visual space-themed recognition skills. And we’ve been enjoying the reader comments on their successful and the not-so-successful identification of these space images. We’ve learned so much about the universe by the images taken by all the different spacecraft, and scientists can refer again and again images to study the fine details. And sometimes, they see something they didn’t even know was there.

Alright, its time to make your guess, and no peeking below before your guess has been made.

This is an image of Jupiter’s rings, taken by the Voyager 2 spacecraft, from the dark side of Jupiter. The faint ring system is shown in this color composite as two light orange lines protruding from the left side of Jupiter’s limb. This picture was taken in Jupiter’s shadow through orange and violet filters. Voyager 2 was at a range of 1,450,000 kilometers (900,000 miles), and about 2 degrees below the plane of the ring.

We didn’t know Jupiter had rings until the Voyagers found them in 1979. Jupiter’s rings are very dark, unlike Saturn’s rings which contain lots of ice and are very reflective. Not until the Galileo mission which orbited Jupiter from 1995 to 2003, did scientists figure out the rings were made of dust and materials kicked up by meteoroids slamming into Jupiter’s inner moons.

Voyager 1 flew by Jupiter on March 5, 1979, taking more than 18,000 images of planet and its moons. Voyager 2 flew by Jupiter on July 9, 1979, taking about the same number. Between the two Voyager spacecraft, three new moons and a thin, dark ring were discovered. Voyager images of Jupiter’s moon Io revealed active volcanoes, the first ever discovered on another body besides Earth.

How did you do on this challenge?

Where In The Universe Challenge #11

Blue is my favorite color. Especially the shade of blue in the image for this week’s “Where In The Universe” challenge. It’s just such an uplifting color. But back to the challenge. The goal of this challenge is to test your skills and knowledge of our solar system. Guess where this image is from, and give yourself extra points if you can guess which spacecraft is responsible for the image. As always, don’t peek below before you make your guess. Comments on how you did are welcome.

Ready? Go!

This image was taken by the HiRISE Camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It shows the central uplift within an impact crater to the west of Nili Fossae on Mars. Planetary scientists love to see central uplifts, because they provide rare views of the rock types that exist miles beneath the modern-day surface of Mars. The impact process has shuffled different rock types into a disorganized array known as impact breccia.

This is an enhanced color image, to help discern between the different types of rock. Some of the materials that appear dark blue are probably patches of sand overlying the lighter-toned breccia.

Central uplifts are features that form on the floor of an impact crater shortly after the impact occurs. The crater’s central floor rebounds upward, forming a ring of hills and raising deeply buried rocks up to Martian surface. Infrared spectrometers such as THEMIS and CRISM have found that some of the rocks in this crater’s central uplift contain minerals that are intriguing and atypical for Mars, such as quartz, clays, and other water-bearing silicate minerals.

This image is just part of a larger swath taken by HiRISE. This portion of the image shows some of the central uplift rocks in fine detail. Blocks measuring from a few meters to over a hundred meters (10 to over 300 feet) across have coloration differences, suggesting that their compositions are different. Some of the largest blocks are internally layered, implying that they are blocks of sedimentary rock.

How did you do?

More about this image and to download a larger version in all its glory

Where In The Universe Challenge #10

I’ve been enjoying a few lazy days of summer relaxing by a lake. The weather has been perfect, the lake is clear and warm, the food and drinks plentiful; a perfect vacation. But I finally realized (late in the day) today is Wednesday, and its time for another “Where In The Universe” challenge. So, here’s an image, and your mission is to guess where in the universe this picture was taken. You get extra points for guessing the spacecraft that is responsible for the image, too. So take your time, maybe put your feet up and grab a cold beverage on this warm day and ponder this image for awhile. No peeking below for the answer until you’ve made your guess.

When I first saw this image, I thought for sure it was a picture of some icy planetary surface or body of water. But actually, its not ice at all. This is Lake Erie, in the United States, and the image was taken on May 28th, 2006 at about noon local time, on a nice summer day. The sun is just at the right angle that causes a glint off the water, giving it an icy appearance. The image shows features on the surface of Lake Erie, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Cleveland, Ohio.

The image shows V-shaped wakes of small water craft, as well as broad patterns of larger craft, probably large freighters carrying cargo, that displace and disturb more water during passage. These larger wakes are aligned with the direct course between Detroit and Cleveland (not shown in the image). Some of the broad, ill-defined swaths of light and dark (aligned from lower left to upper right) are streaks of wind-roughened water, which reflect the Sun differently.

This image was taken by an astronaut on board the International Space Station with a Kodak 760C digital camera using an 800 mm lens. They are provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and the Image Science & Analysis Group, Johnson Space Center.

So, where ever you are, you can now enjoy gazing at a lake, just like I’ve been doing all week. My lake is a lot smaller than Lake Erie, though. But, enjoy!

Learn more about this image at NASA’s Earth Observatory site.

Another “Where In The Universe” Challenge

Here’s this week’s ‘Where In The Universe’ challenge. I have a soft spot in my heart for craters. And the crater pictured here is one of the most gorgeous examples of a crater you’ll see. But just where in the solar system is this crater? When I worked at a science museum, one of the first activities I ever did with children was to make craters. Just take a small tub, put in a few cups of flour and sprinkle cocoa powder on top. Then let the kids lose with impactors of all sizes and have them drop them (from the same height at first) and let them observe the parts of a crater (the rim, ejecta, rays, and sometimes even the step-like features on the walls). The kids loved this activity (you get to throw things and make a mess), but they also learned a lot about craters and how craters can provide information about the history of a planet or moon. So, back to the image, and “A crater I may contemplate” (see the source of that quote below after you’ve made your guess). Is this crater on a planet or a moon, and which one?

This crater is on Venus, and is named Dickinson Crater. This crater is 69 kilometers (43 miles) in diameter, and located in the northeastern Atalanta Region of Venus at 74.6 degrees north latitude and 177.2 east longitude. This crater is quite complex, characterized by a floor with alternating dark and bright materials. Rough but bright ejecta extend all around the crater, except to the west,which may indicate that the impactor that produced the crater came from the west. Extensive radar-bright flows that emanate from the crater’s eastern walls may represent large volumes of impact melt, or they may be the result of volcanic material released from the subsurface during the cratering event.

The crater was named after Emily Dickinson, an American poet, who wrote a poem about volcanoes and craters:

Volcanoes be in Sicily
And South America,
I judge from my geography.
Volcanoes nearer here,
A lava step, at any time,
Am I inclined to climb,
A crater I may contemplate,
Vesuvius at home.

Emily Dickinson, ‘Volcanoes be in Sicily’, from The Single Hound: Poems of a Lifetime (Boston: Little, Brown, 1914), p. 125.

How’d you do?

Full size image from NASA Photojournal

Where In The Universe Challenge #8

Its time for another “Where in the Universe” challenge. I’ll admit, this one is a little unusual. And I’ll also admit, the picture here is just part of of a larger image. But, showing the entire image might give it away. Can you guess what this is? This challenge requires high energy for our readers to undertake, I know, and I appreciate everyone who has written to say how much they enjoy “Where in the Universe.” We search across the sky, across the galaxy, and across the universe to find unique images, and hopefully this challenge provides a welcome diversion to your day. Have you made a guess, formulated a speculation, or deduced a deduction? Or do you just know what this is? No peeking below until your guesses are in….

In honor of the successful launch of GLAST today, this image is in memory of the last orbiting gamma ray telescope, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. This is the all-sky map produced by the EGRET instrument, or the Energetic Gamma Ray Experiment Telescope. Here’s the full image:

This image shows the emissions from interactions between cosmic rays and the interstellar gas along the plane of our Galaxy, the Milky Way. Some point sources in this map are pulsars along the plane. For example, the Crab and Geminga pulsars are found near the extreme right side of the EGRET all-sky map. One of the major discoveries made by EGRET is the class of objects known as blazars – these are quasars that emit the majority of their electromagnetic energy in the 30 MeV to 30 GeV portion of the spectrum.

The Compton Gamma Ray Observatory was the second of NASA’s Great Observatories. Compton was launched on April 5, 1991 aboard the space shuttle Atlantis, and was safely deorbited and re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere on June 4, 2000.

How’d you do?

Image source: Compton Gamma Ray Observatory site

“Where In The Universe” Challenge #7

With all the excitement of Phoenix’s successful landing and subsequent activities, I almost forgot that its time for another “Where In The Universe” challenge. So, I’ve been blazing across the internet, trying to shoot off another version of this challenge without causing a conflagration or bursting into spontaneous human combustion (OK, I know that doesn’t really happen, but it fits here.)

I have to admit this image is really unusual. It almost looks like something found painted on a cave wall, but this is an actual image taken of the surface of a planetary body. It’s time to make your guesses, and no peeking below before you do…..

This image was chosen in honor of Phoenix. Still puzzled?

These are fire scars in an Australian desert. This image was taken in November of 2002 by a crew member on board the International Space Station. These unusual bright orange fire scars show up on the underlying sand dunes in the Simpson Desert, 300 kilometers east of Alice Springs. The background is an intricate pattern of sand cordons that angle across the view from lower left to upper right. These cordons are mostly green in this image, showing that, although they were once shifting, they have become more or less static—“tied down” by a vegetation mat of desert scrub.

The fire scars were produced by a fire in 2002, and are certainly not there anymore, unless a new fire has created new scars like this. According to scientists, the image suggests a time sequence of events: Fires first advanced into the view from the lower left—parallel with the major dune trend and dominant wind direction. Then the wind shifted direction by about 90 degrees so that fires advanced across the dunes in a series of frond-like tendrils. The sharp tips of the fronds show where the fires burned out naturally.

Over time these scars are erased as vegetation grows back.

How’d you do?

And let’s hear it one more time for the latest spacecraft on Mars! Phoenix, you really light my fire!

Image source: NASA Earth Observatory

Test Your Knowledge With Another “Where In The Universe” Challenge

It’s Wednesday, so that means its time for another “Where In The Universe” challenge to test your visual knowledge of the cosmos. We’ve been busy searching hither and yon for unusual and unique astronomical images to see how well our readers are acquainted with the various locals across the universe. This week’s image is an unusual looking object. Just what is this thing? Could it be an asteroid, a wierd moon, or something you can find on Earth? Hmmm…… Ponder the image for awhile, and no peeking below before you make a guess. If only I could insert some music here, like the “Think!” theme song from the Jeopardy game show. I’ll have to talk to Fraser about that…

Have you made your guess?

And are you sure?

This is a Cassini image of Saturn’s unusual moon Hyperion. Hyperion is the largest highly irregular (non-spherical) body in the solar system. Scientists believe its very likely that is a fragment of a larger body that was broken by a large impact in the distant past. Is this a coral reef in space?

This sponge-like looking moon is a remarkable world strewn with strange craters and basically a strange surface. At the bottom of most craters lies some type of unknown dark material. Astronomers think the dark material might be only tens of meters thick in some places. Hyperion is about 250 kilometers across, rotates chaotically, and has a density so low that it might be mostly hollow inside — it may house a vast system of caverns. Wouldn’t that be fun to explore!

Or its low density could indicate that it is composed of water ice with only a small amount of rock and considerably porous. It’s very low density also seems to allow impacts to form deeper and sharper craters.

But unlike most of Saturn’s moons, Hyperion has a low albedo (.2 – .3) indicating that it is covered by at least a thin layer of dark material. Cassini data from 2007 indicates that this material is rich in organic molecules. Quite an interesting place, this Hyperion.

How did you do on this week’s challenge?

Original Source: APOD, Nine Planets

This Week’s “Where in the Universe?” Challenge

Here’s your image for this week’s “Where in the Universe?” challenge. Take a look at the image and before proceeding to the end of this post, make your guess as to what location in the universe is represented here. It could be anywhere — nothing is off limits for this challenge! Near or distant, far and wide, Universe Today spares no expense when it comes to searching for unique and unusual images to test your visual knowledge of our universe! Give yourself an extra point for guessing (or knowing) the feature shown here, and another point for naming the spacecraft that took this image. Just a couple more ticks on the timer here before revealing the awesome power of this week’s image….

Have you made your guess?

Here’s the answer:

These are cloud vortices found near Alaska, here on Earth. These are called von Karman cloud vortices, named after Theodore von Karman, co-founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. These vortices near the Aleutian Islands were photographed by an Expedition 15 crewmember on the International Space Station. The vortices are created by the wind encountering a barrier such as an island, then changing direction and velocity and forming eddies in the wind and subsequently, in cloud patterns. The image was taken almost a year ago, on May 23, 2007 and the location of the image is at 51.1 degrees north latitude and 178.8 degrees west longitude.

In the cloud image above, the islands disturb the wind flow. As a prevailing wind encounters the island, the disturbance in the flow propagates downstream of the island in the form of a double row of vortices which alternate their direction of rotation. The animation below (courtesy of Cesareo de la Rosa Siqueira at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil) shows how a von Karman vortex develops behind a cylinder moving through a fluid.

For you camera buffs out there, the image was taken with a Kodak DCS760C Electronic Still Camera.

How’d you do?

Original Source: Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth