Category Archives: Multiple media

The sun expels another giant spray of coronal mass reports on another massive explosion from the sun, this time on the farside:

Earlier today, July 23rd, a spectacular CME emerged from the farside of the sun. Coronagraphs onboard the orbiting Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) tracked the fast-moving cloud as it billowed into space:

And here is a GIF video of the Sun as seen by the STEREO spacecraft;

At around 5:00 on 2017/07/23 there is a large coronal mass ejection.


If this explosion had occurred 2 weeks ago when the huge sunspot was facing Earth, we would be predicting strong geomagnetic storms in the days ahead. Instead, the CME is racing away from our planet … and directly toward Mars. Compared to Earth, the Red Planet is currently on the opposite side of the sun, and apparently in the crosshairs of this CME. Mars rovers Curiosity and Opportunity might be observing the effects of a solar storm later this week.

Videos: Planet satellite captures launch of more Planet satellites

On July 14th, a Russian Soyuz rocket launched a large government earth observation satellite as its primary payload and 72 small satellites, including 48 for the earth observation company Planet (formerly Planet Labs). Planet has something in the range of 150 active small satellites, which they call Doves,  viewing the earth in low earth orbit. (After a few years, the satellites reenter the atmosphere for a fiery destruction.) During the launch, one Dove happened to be passing overhead and took a series of images during the launch:

Satellites Taking Pictures of Rockets Carrying More Satellites

At Planet, we launch new satellite flocks regularly. For years, we’ve been talking about getting that perfect shot from space of a rocket mid-flight; and as our on-orbit fleet has grown in size, the odds of one of our satellites being in the right position to image these rocket launches have only increased. Last week, the orbits aligned.

Our Dove constellation is a monitoring one, meaning we point each Dove straight down, imaging what’s directly below in strips as the Earth rotates. In the hours leading up to our recent Soyuz launch we determined that a Dove would be near enough to Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to get a shot of our newest flock launching. Once we determined it was possible, our Attitude Control team worked with our Mission Operations team to point a Dove at the launch pad.

And, to put it frankly, the results are pretty cool. Check out what we captured:

To create this animation, we pointed a Dove approximately 50 degrees off-nadir towards the pad, capturing one still image per second of the fixed target as the Dove travelled overhead at an approximate speed of seven kilometers per second (or 15,658 MPH). Then our Imaging Team cropped and stitched the stills together. All in all, this short clip covers about two and a half minutes in real-time including lift off and flight.

From an operational standpoint, these on-orbit maneuvers were exciting to perform. We realized we’d be able to snap these images about 5 hours prior to launch; and our extensive ground station network made it easy to get the target commands up to the satellite really quickly. The next morning, right around the time the Doves Flock 2k were deploying from the Soyuz into orbit, we received the data.

Looking through it for the first time was exciting for the team. We’ve captured some spectacular imagery over the last few years, but these launch shots of the Soyuz are some of my personal favorites. Learn more about the flock of 48 satellites of Flock 2k that launched onboard the Soyuz.


Here is a ground view of the launch:


Here’s a recent interview with Planet co-founder and CEO Will Marshall:

And a time-lapse of Planet images of Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada for mass production of lithium batteries:


Video: Europe from Space in 4K

Take a quick tour of Southern Europe in 4K high-definition video via the International Space Station:

Got three minutes to spare for a tour of southern Europe? That’s all the time it takes, when you have a 4K camera orbiting Earth 250 miles up—and we do, on the International Space Station. This Ultra High Definition video was shot in August 2016 as the station traveled nearly 1000 miles, taking in views from above the western coast of France to the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Switzerland, southern Germany and Austria, and southward to the countries of the Balkan Peninsula. Music by Joakim Karud.



Videos: Ride along with Juno as it flies by Jupiter’s swirling clouds

The Juno probe is in a wide elliptical orbit around Jupiter that sends it way out into space far from the gas giant at one end of the ellipse and then down close to the cloud tops at the other. Below are videos showing imagery of Jupiter, enhanced to bring out the cloud patterns, as if one were riding on the spacecraft during its most recent two passes close to the planet:

Here is a diagram of Juno’s orbit:

The orbit lasts 53.5 days. The original plan was to fire the spacecraft’s main engine to make the orbit more circular and smaller so that it  lasted only 14 days (shown by the set of green-blue orbits in the diagram). However, problems with the engine valves led mission managers to decide it was safest to leave the spacecraft in the original wide orbit.

When a satellite is in orbit around earth, the two extremes of the orbital ellipse are referred to as apogee (farthest from earth) and perigee (closest to earth). As explained in the Oxford dictionary, “gee” derives as follows:

from French apogée or modern Latin apogaeum, from Greek apogaion (diastēma), ‘(distance) away from earth’, from apo ‘from’ + gaia, gē ‘earth’.

So for an orbit around Jupiter, the terms have been replaced with apojove and perijove, using the Latin word Jove for Jupiter.

Note that it was discovered by Kepler that orbits were ellipses rather than circles. He also noticed that an object in orbit around a large body will move fastest at the low point and slowest at the high point in the ellipse. (Newton later used his calculus math tools with the laws of motion and the inverse squared law of gravity to explain these key features of orbital mechanics.) So Juno’s passes above the cloud tops very quickly at perijove and then takes a long slow trip up to apojove and back.

Video: Flying above Mars

Check out filmmaker Jan Fröjdman‘s marvelous tour of some of the weird and wonderful features on the Mars surface using images captured by the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO): A Fictive Flight Above Real Mars –  Vimeo

Part of the caption:

The anaglyph images of Mars taken by the HiRISE camera holds information about the topography of Mars surface. There are hundreds of high-resolution images of this type. This gives the opportunity to create different studies in 3D. In this film I have chosen some locations and processed the images into panning video clips. There is a feeling that you are flying above Mars looking down watching interesting locations on the planet. And there are really great places on Mars! I would love to see images taken by a landscape photographer on Mars, especially from the polar regions. But I’m afraid I won’t see that kind of images during my lifetime.

It has really been time-consuming making these panning clips. In my 3D-process I have manually hand-picked reference points on the anaglyph image pairs. For this film I have chosen more than 33.000 reference points! It took me 3 months of calendar time working with the project every now and then.

The colors in this film are false because the anaglyph images are based on grayscale images. I have therefore color graded the clips. But I have tried to be moderate doing this. The light regions in the clips are yellowish and the dark regions bluish. The clips from the polar regions (the last clips in the film) have a white-blue tone.There are a lot of opinions and studies of what the natural colors on Mars might be. But the dark regions of dust often seems to have a bluish tone. Please study this issue on e.g sites by NASA.