Today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) features a mosaic put together in part by Universe Today’s Ken Kremer, along with his imaging partner Marco Di Lorenzo, using images sent back from the Curiosity rover. It shows Curiosity’s landing site, Bradbury Landing, with its ultimate destination, Aeolis Mons/Mount Sharp off in the distance. It’s a beautiful and crisp image, which show parts of the rover itself — including the extended robotic arm — and its shadow on Mars. As the APOD editors Robert Nemiroff and Jerry Bonnell say, “If life ever existed on Mars it might well have been here in Gale crater, with the Curiosity rover being humanity’s current best chance to find what remains.”
Congrats to Ken and Marco for being featured on APOD!
In this episode of the Weekly Space Hangout, we’re joined by special guest Robert Nemiroff from Astronomy Picture of the Day. We also talked about the return of the SpaceX Dragon capsule, a manned mission to Venus, nomadic planets and the announcement of the Square Kilometer Array. Our team included: Amy Shira Tietel, Jason Major, Alan Boyle, Nicole Gugliucci and Robert Nemiroff.
We record a new episode of the Weekly Space Hangout every Thursday at 10:00 am PT / 1:00 pm ET. You can watch us live and ask us questions, right on Google+. Circle Fraser on Google+ to see when the recording starts.
Here’s a great shot of Titan and Saturn acquired by Cassini on May 6, 2012 just after a pass by the haze-covered moon. It’s a color-composite made from images taken in Cassini’s red, green and blue color channels, and the resulting image was color adjusted a bit to appear more “Saturny”.
UPDATE 7/2/12: The image above is featured in today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD)… check it out here.
Cassini also made some closer passes of Titan on May 6, taking images within about 710,000 km. After recent passes of Encealdus and Dione, Cassini buzzed past Titan in preparation of a targeted flyby on May 22, after which it will head up and out out of the “moonplane” in order to get a better view of Saturn’s rings and upper latitudes.
After that, Cassini won’t be playing amongst the moons again for three years, so images like this will be a rarity for a while.
Another image of Titan, closer-in and set against Saturn’s rings and clouds, shows the fine, transparent structure of the moon’s upper atmospheric haze layers:
Created by the breakdown of methane in Titan’s opaque atmosphere by UV radiation, the haze is composed of complex hydrocarbons that extend outwards up to ten times the thickness of Earth’s atmosphere!
(The RGB layers weren’t available for this particular view, so there’s no color version of it.)
Check out previous images from Cassini’s flyby of Dione and Enceladus, and follow along with the Cassini mission on the JPL site here.
Top image: Color-composite image of Titan and Saturn (NASA/JPL/SSI/J. Major) Bottom image: Titan in blue wavelength against Saturn (NASA/JPL/SSI)
Congrats to Universe Today writer Ken Kremer and his image processing partner Marco Di Lorenzo for their handiwork being featured on today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day. It’s one of their great images they have enhanced of the Opportunity Rover peering into its current location at Santa Maria Crater on Mars. Check it out on APOD!