Thursday, August 14, 2014

Space Encounters

There have been some very interesting images released lately, showing encounters with bodies in outer space.

It is hard for the human mind to grasp the practically infinite expanse of space- which contains countless stars, planets, moons, comets, and trillions of other bodies slowly moving throughout the Universe, over endless eons of time.

The first photo is the space probe Rosetta's rendezvous with the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which is 2.5 miles wide. Humanity now has its most detailed look ever at a comet up-close. The Rosetta probe is now orbiting the giant mass of ice & rock, but is scheduled to actually land on its surface soon!

European Space Agency:
Rosetta Arrives at Comet Destination

The lack of visual context in the photo above makes it look like a giant boulder, and I really didn't realize the size of the comet nucleus until I saw the photo below. It shows the comet in comparison to the city of Raleigh, NC.

Another amazing image of quiet, breathtaking beauty is this one of Saturn's moons, Rhea & Epimetheus, transiting the planet with the rings visible in the background:

The final image is not as clear or detailed as the previous ones, but it is still mind-boggling in its technical achievement. The New Horizons spacecraft has taken video imagery of Pluto being orbited by its largest moon, Charon.

Daily Mail:

The spacecraft got this imagery while 262 million miles from the planetoid. The fact that we can process light into discernible photos from that far away is pretty astonishing. The scale of the Universe is truly incomprehensible...

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