November 2014 Archives

Stunning Remastered View of Europa

Scientists have produced a new version of what is perhaps NASA's best view of Jupiter's ice-covered moon, Europa. The mosaic of color images was obtained in the late 1990s by NASA's Galileo spacecraft. This is the first time that NASA is publishing a version of the scene produced using modern image processing techniques. An earlier, lower-resolution version of the view, published in 2001, featured colors that had been strongly enhanced. The new image more closely approximates what the human eye would see. Space imaging enthusiasts have produced their own versions of the view using the publicly available data, but NASA has not previously issued its own rendition using near-natural color.

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Earliest Satellite Images of Antarctica

Long-lost images taken from the first Nimbus satellite are revealing new information about what the world looked like from space before the beginning of the modern-day satellite record in 1979. While NASA never really lost the data (it was stored in federal archives) they did lose the ability to access it for nearly 40 years. Recovered images of Antarctica showed a greater extent of sea ice than ever measured before by scientists--but the record was short lived. In an odd twist of fate, the new record was broken in September 2014, only weeks after the discovery.

The Surveyor Digitization Project

Image: This image of Earth was captured by Surveyor 7 in 1968. The image, stored on a 70 millimeter film reel negative, also contains calibration metadata. NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory

"It's hard to believe, but just three years before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon in 1969, humanity had yet to soft-land anything there. If the United States was really going to put astro-boots on the ground, it would be nice to get a preliminary look at the surface. In 1964 and 1965, three camera-equipped spacecraft called Ranger crash-landed into the moon, giving scientists their first up-close look. The Soviet Union's Luna 9 gently touched down in the Ocean of Storms in February 1966, becoming the first spacecraft to send home images from the surface. Four months later, the U.S. followed suit with Surveyor 1, the first of seven robotic spacecraft sent to investigate Luna firma between 1966 and 1968. Two didn't make it in one piece, but of the five that did, some 87,000 images were relayed back to Earth via television cameras. Astonishingly, less than two percent of those images have ever been seen. That's according to a team of scientists at the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL), which plan to bring Surveyor's unseen work to light. The group, led by Dr. Shane Byrne, will digitize the entire collection and release it into the public domain."

More at Planetary Society: "Surveyor Digitization Project Will Bring Thousands of Unseen Lunar Images to Light"

Crowdsourcing a Century of Astronomical History

"The project, called Digital Access to a Sky Century at Harvard (DASCH for short), is actually a collaboration between the Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Institution, the latter of which has embarked on a much larger endeavor to crowdsource the transcription of millions of pages of archival material. The DC-based network of museums launched a beta version of its crowdsourcing platform in June 2013, and over the next year about 1,000 volunteers transcribed 13,000 pages of documents. After emerging from beta in August and opening up to the public, that volunteer list has swelled to over 4,000. Though it isn't the first archival institution to begin digitizing its collected works -- everyone from the New York Public Library to the British Museum have launched similar initiatives -- its scope of work is arguably the most massive; there are 137 million objects spread across the Smithsonian's 19 museums."

More at "Why Harvard and the Smithsonian teamed up to crowdsource a century of astronomical history"

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RECOMMENDED BOOKS

Moonrush: Improving Life on Earth with the Moon's Resources
Moonrush: Improving Life on Earth with the Moon's Resources

The Kaguya Lunar Atlas: The Moon in High Resolution
The Kaguya Lunar Atlas: The Moon in High Resolution

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Voices from the Moon: Apollo Astronauts Describe Their Lunar Experiences

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