Catchup post from DotAstronomy
The development of this field has been incredible, with rapid release of ‘raw’ data now the rule rather than the exception. Emily made the excellent point that in learning to use their digital cameras and how to share the results people are already learning the skills they need to make use of that data. Similarly, software like powerpoint can be used to produce simple animations – Emily’s example was Encledus passing behind Dione as seen from the Cassini orbiter. This is useful scientific data because it helps refine the moons’ orbits, but it also looks pretty good.
The example that made my jaw drop, though, is this one. Ted Stryk is a biologist an english professor who in his spare time reprocessed the data from Voyager 2′s flyby of Uranus, which took place back in 1986. One of the joys of exploring the outer planets – as more recent missions like Cassini have reminded us – is the way that the moons change from being dots in an image to being worlds in their own right. Uranus was no exception – here’s Ariel as it appeared on January 1st 1986.
The sad thing is that this is essentially the only view Voyager had – the part of Ariel that is in the dark would have to wait for the next mission, which even now, twenty years later, has yet to hit the drawing board let along the launch pad. Except that, thanks for Ted, we don’t have to wait. He reprocessed the data, and suddenly the dark side of Ariel appeared, lit by Uranus-shine just as you sometimes see our Moon lit by Earthshine.
What a stunning project. Go and see the other moons.
<b>Update</b>:Emily emailed to point out I’d posted the wrong before image. It’s correct now.