Tagged: planet

Space art, showing the Earth-like planet Alice with a remarkable landscape full of islands and lakes and in the background gas giant Goliath

Alice and Goliath – two worlds out of many

How many Earth-like planets are there in the universe? In other words: how many doubles does our beautiful water world have? We’ll never get anywhere near an exact answer but “very, very much” is, most likely, pretty close to the truth. There are about 200 billion stars in our own galaxy. The number of galaxies in the universe is, coincidentally, also around 200 billion. So we are talking about roughly 40,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars. Even if only one in a million stars has an Earth-like planet orbiting around it, which seems like a pessimistic estimate, we still have an unimaginable number of...

A room with world map Mars 2.0, showing the planet as it may look after terraforming, as decoration on the wall, while Mars rover Sojourner is driving around between the furniture

Mars 2.0 – Return to the Red, Green and Blue Planet

Liquid water has just been found on Mars. The movie The Martian (the perfect blend of Castaway and Apollo 13, with a touch of Saturday Night Fever) is in cinemas right now. And NASA has announced detailed plans to send people to Mars in twenty years. A good moment for me to take a look at the planet again as well. Mars Society Netherlands Mars and I have a long history together. In 1999 I founded, together with Arno Wielders (currently involved in Mars One) the Dutch chapter of the Mars Society in a café in Leiden. In the first...

Group portrait of the eight planets of our solar system, shown to scale: Earth, Venus, Mars and Mercury in their entirety and parts of Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus

Portrait of the Planets

When you want to capture the whole Solar System in one image, you come across a problem: the distances between the eight planets and their star are huge, almost unimaginable. In all the pictures of the solar system you’ve ever seen the sizes of the planets are wrong: they are strongly exaggerated, by necessity. On a scale model of about two metres – a nice size to hang on the wall in your living room – the Earth would be only four thousandths of a millimeter. You wouldn’t even be able to see our homeworld! Heaven on Earth The only...

Impression of solar sail Johannes Kepler on its way to the moons of Jupiter against a background of stars with the Earth on the left and the moon in the distance

Sailing on the Solar Wind

You can state by now that the wind is a recurring theme in my work. That’s shown most clearly by my triptych about wind energy on the North Sea. But also my plea for the rebuilding of windmill De Noord at Oostplein in Rotterdam fits perfectly into that story. Probably not everyone realizes that there’s wind also beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. Another kind of wind, though: solar wind. The particles from which the sunlight is composed exert force on objects that are illuminated by it. Johannes Kepler was, in the 16th century, the first to realize this when he studied...

Computerbeeld van duizend windmolens en een traditioneel zeilschip op de Noordzee, terwijl de laagstaande avond zon net achter een wolk vandaan komt.

3000 Windmills on the Wall

We’re on a planet that is close to its primary and has a molten core, a substantial atmosphere, and a large natural satellite. Any species that can’t develop a sustainable energy infrastructure on such a planet doesn’t deserve to escape its gravity well. This quote from my friend Shaun Moss tells exactly what it is all about: we could be much worse off. If that star would be further away solar panels would be useless, without the atmosphere there is no wind, if that core has cooled you can forget geothermal energy and without such a decent size moon like ours tidal power...

Orbital image of a terraformed Mars with the Northern ocean and the North Pole, Valles Marineris, Kasei Vallis, Arabia Terra and the Tharsis highlands, against a background of stars

Modified Mars Revisited

A few weeks ago I received an email from someone who asked my permission to use Modified Mars as a setting for a novel. Modified Mars is a project that I conceived eight years ago, and it’s about terraforming the world currently known as the Red Planet. Another Earth A brief explanation for those who rarely or never read science fiction: terraforming (literally earth formation) is the alteration of a planet in such a way that Earth organisms, including humans, can thrive there. Terraformers are especially interested in Mars for several reasons: the planet is not too big, not too...

Buispanorama van Het Park, Rotterdam, met twee nijlganzen en de Euromast, gemaakt op een zonnige dag in de herfst

All Year Round Spherical Panoramas

I’ve been making a lot of spherical panorama’s lately, often referred to as “little planets”. But of course I have not invented the concept myself. I’m certainly not the only one who makes them; anyone with a camera and a recent version of Photoshop can produce them quite easily. And of course I do want my panoramas to add something, to stand out among the many other small spheres that are being made. Wet asphalt One of the ways I try to do that is by showing the influence of the weather and the seasons. The panorama below, for example,...

Spherical panorama of Gelderseplein in Rotterdam, featuring the White House, the reconstructed Wijnhavenhouses, the Old Harbour with the Cube dwellings and more

Gelderseplein Rotterdam: Another Spherical Panorama

Gelderseplein (Gelderland Square) is a new square in the center of Rotterdam, on a site that lay vacant for years after the construction of the railway tunnel. Around it we find a diverse catalog of architectural styles. Most prominent is the White House, which was the tallest skyscraper in Europe after completion in 1898, but criticized by many as “too American”; the building survived the 1940 bombing but was nearly demolished in the seventies for the construction of a huge roundabout that fortunately never came. Next to the White House there’s a row of eighteenth century buildings that was stored...

One hundred pioneers on an epic journey to a new world; still from a fake trailer for the film adaptation of Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars

Soundtrack for the Mars Trilogy

A still picture doesn’t need any music to go with it but it’s very boring to watch moving images without sound. For that reason, almost everyone who puts movies on YouTube adds music to it, paid or not. At youTube they got a little tired of all the complaints about illegal use of music, which is why they started offering music for free. One hundred pioneers The service has been around for over half a year, but I only found out this week. I immediately made ​​a new version of my trailer for Red Mars, the once to be made...

Ares, the spaceship from Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars, with the red Planet in the star spangled background

The Ares by Kim Stanley Robinson: a Sustainable Spaceship

Nothing is as good for your spatial understanding as building a 3d model of a spaceship. This is a reconstruction of the Ares from Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars, based on the descriptions by Robinson and on the original cover illustration by Don Dixon (which contradict each other at some points). Sustainability The Ares was an early example of sustainable shipbuilding: Robinson, who wrote the book in the early nineties, imagined the Ares being composed of recycled space shuttle tanks. American tanks, recognizable from their brown foam insulation, in the outer ring, and Russian tanks for the central axis. The...