Picture of the Week
The kind of matter and energy we can see and touch – whether it is in the form of atoms and molecules, or heat and light, only forms a tiny proportion of the content of the Universe, only about 5%. Over a quarter is dark matter, which is totally invisible but whose gravitational attraction can be detected; while over two thirds is dark energy, a force that pushes the Universe to expand ever faster.
Historic space pictures published online for the first time
4 September 2013
Part of a historic archive of space images, including Soviet
photos of the surface of Venus, hand-assembled mosaics of Jupiter’s moons, and
an incredibly detailed map of the Moon, has been published online by UCL
(University College London). The rare photos and maps have been made available
to the public as part of the Festival of the Planets, which runs from 8-13
September in London. Many of these pictures have never been published online before; others only in poor quality scans.
UCL has a large archive of historical space photos from NASA and other agencies. Before the internet became a major tool for sharing scientific data, NASA shipped hard copies of its photos, and UCL was one of only seven institutions outside of the United States to receive them. The university’s planetary science archives have been further enriched over the years thanks to the research interests of its astronomers.
This treasure trove of pictures gives a fascinating glimpse into the history of the space age, and many of the pictures are of remarkably good quality.
- The first mosaicked images to come back from the Voyager probes when they visited the moons of Jupiter in the 1970s.
- Pictures of the surface of Venus, taken by Soviet landers in the 1980s.
- An incredibly detailed map of the Moon, made by a British astronomer more than a century ago – now available as a huge 400 megapixel scan.
As well as being made available to the public online, a selection of historic pictures from UCL’s collections will be shown during the Festival of the Planets.
Steve Miller, professor of planetary science at UCL, said:
“The Festival of the Planets is going alongside this year's European Planetary Science Congress, which we are holding at UCL. This will be an outstanding scientific event, with more than 800 planetary scientists from all over the world. The planets really are coming to London, and we hope Londoners will enjoy their visit.”
News updates of research being presented at the congress will be published throughout next week.
Images from the UCL/NASA Regional Planetary Image Facility will be on display in the European Planetary Science Congress Exhibition. Staff will exhibit the artefacts from 2pm-4pm on 10 and 12 September.
The event will be located in the marquee in the main UCL quadrangle, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT.
- The images are all available in high resolution at www.ucl.ac.uk/maps-faculty/space-history
- Centre for Planetary Science at UCL/Birkbeck
- UCL Physics and Astronomy
- UCL Earth Sciences
- UCL/NASA Regional Planetary Image Facility
- UCL Museums and Collections
UCL Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences
020 7679 7964
Page last modified on 04 sep 13 10:30