Posts Tagged ‘space’
Farmlands might look pretty ordinary from ground level, but photograph crop fields from space (or even from an airplane) and you’ll see strange and beautiful patterns.
Ever wonder how the US government managed to capture spy photos with satellites during the Cold War without the help of digital cameras, computers, or wireless transmission? The Atlantic has a fascinating article on the various techniques that were used:
From 1971 to 1986 a total of 20 satellites were launched, each containing 60 miles (100 kilometers) of film and sophisticated cameras that orbited the earth snapping vast, panoramic photographs of the Soviet Union, China and other potential foes. The film was shot back through the earth’s atmosphere in buckets that parachuted over the Pacific Ocean, where C-130 Air Force planes snagged them with grappling hooks.
You can check out all the details of the super secret photography program in this now-declassified report.
Over the past year, there have been a number of jaw-dropping (and viral) time-lapse videos created from the amazing photos captured from the International Space Station by astronaut Mike Fossum. The video above provides an interesting behind-the-scenes look into how the images are captured.
If you had the task of choosing some photos that represented Earth and mankind to extraterrestrial life forms, which photos would you select? NASA had to do this back in 1977 when it launched the Voyager space probes, which are now the farthest human-made objects from Earth. A committee led by Carl Sagan eventually settled on 116 images:
[...] a collection of 116 pictures (one of which is for calibration) detailing but not limited to human life on earth and the planet itself. Many pictures are annotated with one or many indications of scales of time, size or mass. Some images also contain indications of chemical composition. All measures used on the pictures are first defined in the first few images using physical references.
Among the photos chosen was Ansel Adam’s famous Snake River and Grand Tetons photograph.
Photographer Edouard Janssens recently sent a weather balloon equipped with a Sony NEX-5 and a GoPro HD to the edges of space. While this isn’t exactly a novel idea, the GoPro camera managed to capture footage of a jet airliner whizzing by at roughly the same altitude!
The photographs he managed to capture are pretty amazing as well.
Blackness 2 [Project Stratos-Sphere]
This amazing image might look like a computer generated graphic, but it’s actually a composite photograph by NASA showing India’s population growth over the years. The white areas show the illumination visible in the country prior to 1992, while the blue, green, and red lights indicate new lights that became visible in 1992, 1998, and 2003, respectively. The four photos were tinted and then combined into an image that reveals where new populations are appearing. NASA definitely needs to do one for every country!
P.S. The image is currently being circulated around the Internet as a photo that shows the Hindu celebration Diwali (AKA the “festival of lights”). Unfortunately, that’s not true.
Sending cameras to the edges of space on a weather balloon has become a pretty popular activity as of late, but up to now people were mostly sending up cell phones, compact cameras, and small HD video cameras (e.g. GoPros). While those devices are light and relatively cheap, the quality of images produced isn’t the best.
Well, Texas Tech students Erich Leeth and Terry Presley recently decided to step things up a notch by using a Nikon D300s and Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens for their space photography. Their craft, which consisted of a 22-foot weather balloon filled with helium and a styrofoam beer cooler purchased from Walmart, rose to an estimated 100K feet before the balloon popped. A parachute then brought the pricey gear safely back down to Earth. The entire project took just 13 days from start to finish, and the duo managed to capture some pretty neat photos from the edge of space.
Forget sending cameras up to the edges of space on a weather balloon: rockets are much, much cooler (and faster). A man named Derek Deville created a homemade rocket in an effort to win The Carmack Prize, which offers $10K to anyone who can launch a rocket to above 100K feet, take a GPS reading, and then recover the vehicle. Although he failed to take a GPS reading, Deville’s rocket managed to reach 121,000ft (~23 miles) in 84 seconds.
What’s awesome is that he also attached two HD cameras to the rocket to document what the journey looks like. The side view captured by a FlipHD starts at 2:49, while footage from a GoPro pointed straight down starts at 5:15.
While we’re on the subject of photos of Earth, did you know that the first photo showing the entire planet was captured by an unmanned NASA orbiter from the moon back in 1966? To accomplish this, they had to come up with a camera that could expose, process, scan, and transmit film photographs — something “akin to a flying television station and photographic mini-lab”.