The Curiosity Rover started this year with some remarkable images of small tube-like structures on Mars. The images were aquired with the Mahli (Mars Hand Lens Imager) camera on Sol 1922 and 1923 (January 01 and 02 2018). The structures are only 1 to 5 mm long and was first spotted on December 15 2017. The rover later returned to the site to investigate further.
It didn’t take long before the possibility of trace fossils were put on the table. Wether the origin of these odd features are the result of geological or biological processes is something that may not be answered with the technology we have on Mars today. At the moment most experts lean towards a geological process, and beeing on Mars that is probably a safe bet.
I have been experimenting with making 3D models from the Curiosity images lately, and gave this one a shot. It didn’t come out too bad.
11 images aquired on Sol 1923 were used for the model. No pre-processing have been done. The 11 images were loaded into a professional photogrammetry software using structure from motion to generate the point cloud. All images were then used to generate the texture for the 3d model.
Image taken on Dec. 15, 2017 with the Curiosity Mastcam right camera with the area of interest in the red cirle. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
John F. Kennedy Space Center. F-1 engines on a Saturn V at the Apollo/Saturn V Center, 2013. Stitched panorama using 6 images. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
The first time I visited Kennedy Space Center in Florida was back in 1987. Since then the world has changed a lot, at least when it comes to politics and technology. The cold war space race is a thing of the past, and you should think we have moved further out in space as well. But to many people’s frustration we are still stuck in low earth orbit.
The Moon at full perigee, the coinciding of full moon and shortest distance to the earth. Also known as the Supermoon. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
These days there is a lot of fuzz in the media regarding the so-called Supermoon, some even believe this is the end of the world as we know it…
Fear not, this is the rare occasion when the Moon is at it’s closest to the earth, or perigee, coinciding with a full Moon. It makes the Moon look slightly bigger and brighter, but only by approximately 12%, so in reality you wouldn’t really know, as it is already quite small on the sky. If it’s close to the horizon it will however look bigger due to an optical illusion. Super or not, it doesn’t really matter, just enjoy the view! The above image was taken yestaerday, with the Supermoon as seen from my home in Stavanger, Norway.
Iceland. The area close to Askja was used during training for the Apollo program. The main objective in Askja was to study geology. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
The phrase “The area was used during training for the Apollo program to prepare astronauts for the lunar missions” is commonly used when trying to attract tourists to the Askja area on Iceland and similar desolated locations. You can see it all flashing before your eyes; heroic astronauts jumping around in bulky space suits, trying not to fall over in the moonlike landscape.
Well, it is a common misconception that the Apollo astronauts traveled to wastelands on earth to get used to the bleak hell of the barren moon. As someone said: “for that they could have stayed in Houston”. I’ve never been to Houston, so I cannot say…
Iceland. Viti explosion crater on the north east shore of Oskjuvatn, Askja. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
The Mars rovers has found compelling evidence of a warmer and wetter time on Mars billions of years ago. The above image may illustrate how it may have looked like at some moment in the past, with small scattered lakes and ice. But hey, this cant be on Mars you say? We can clearly see two human figures on the crater edge, and we certainly have not landed on Mars yet?
You are right, this crater is firmly placed on mother earth, more precisely at Askja on Iceland. But you have to admit it looks somewhat alien. When I took another look it clearly reminded me of an image I had seen a while ago from Mars, and a quick search came up with this photo from the amazing Mars Express orbiter: Continue reading →