There are spacecraft and rovers at work right this moment collecting data on planets, moons and other solar system bodies. These sophisticated instruments are beaming back data to Earth on a nearly daily basis. Much of that data would not be easy for most of us to interpret but the images they send back give us visual information about our solar system that we can all enjoy at some level.
If you have followed my blog you know that I shared many images of Mars with you. Those images have all been downloaded from publicly available databases. The most recent NASA missions have made their images available almost immediately and so are available to the public if you know where to look. Your tax dollars are at work here and so it is our data which is why much of the data collected is made available for everyone to see and share. Other data collected is held for analysis but ultimately even that data is made available for the general public.
Even after many years of watching these missions unfold I still love the thrill of looking at what images today will bring. On Mars every turn the rover makes brings a new landscape into view which no human has every laid eyes on before. I like the feeling that I am one of the first to “see” it on my screen.
Below are some links to website where you can find the raw images as they are streamed to Earth. Check them out and discover the excitement of seeing something new every day.
Mars from the surface – The Opportunity and Curiosity Rovers
http://www.midnightplanets.com/ – Mars missions Opportunity and Curiosity Rovers are both active on the surface of Mars. Pictures they beam back to Earth are made available within a day of their arrival from each of their cameras. This website pulls in images from both of those rovers by time of arrival so you can see them as they uploaded. I look at this web page every few days to catch up on what these rovers have been up to.
Mars from Satellite imagery – HiRise (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment)
http://www.uahirise.org/katalogos.php – The HiRise satellite takes detailed images of the surface of Mars. It does so much more than just take pictures of the surface but it takes images with other wavelengths of light besides “visible” light allowing it to “see” the composition of the rocks of Mars.
Pluto and its moon, Charon – New Horizon Mission
http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/soc/Pluto-Encounter/ – New Horizons mission to Pluto. The New Horizons spacecraft that just flew past Pluto after a nearly 10 years journey will spend the next year and a half sending data back to earth. It is now over 100 million kilometers beyond Pluto as it emits a constant stream of data back toward us. Each week new images that are part of that data stream are posted on this web page. http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/index.php – Mission main page with links to processed images and progress reports.
Saturn, its moons and rings – Cassini Mission
The Cassini Spacecraft was launched in 1997 and has been orbiting Saturn since 2004. The 100s of thousands of images that it has taken are amazing when you consider that they are based on mid-90s digital imaging technology.
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/raw/?start=1 Last 500 Raw images that have been sent back to Earth.
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/raw/ Search by camera and target such as any of dozens of moons of Saturn, Saturn itself or its rings.
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/halloffame/ Cassini “hall of Fame” image gallery.
The Universe – Hubble Space Telescope
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/multimedia/index.html You can find selected Hubble Space Telescope images here.
Some recent images from several sites listed above:
The first image is Dione, I believe. It’s definitely not Enceladus.
Doh! How embarrassing. Yep, I saw that Cassini was passing Enceladus today and figured that was an image but his was Dione and now I see that Enceladus images are up. Changed my caption to Dione