Tagged: science fiction

Artist impression of the planet Venus in a remote future after terraforming, with oceans and continents, cloud patterns and an impressive ring system

The Rings of Venus

The closest planet in our solar system, Venus, looks suspiciously like Earth, at first glance. With a diameter of 12,104 kilometers, Venus is only a few percent smaller than Earth (12,757 kilometers). Gravity is also only a fraction less: 0.9 g. That similarity is very striking when you consider that the planets orbiting our sun vary enormously in size, from the dwarf Mercury to the giant Jupiter. As a child I was fascinated by this twin sister of the Earth. I even drew a map, not based on any scientific knowledge, with seas, continents, mountain ranges and wave currents. The...

The Ares, the spaceship on which the First Hundred travelled to Mars in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, arrives in orbit around the Red Planet

Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy

Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy is one of the highlights of American science fiction, as far as I’m concerned. Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars were published between 1992 and 1996 and tell the future history of our neighboring planet over a period of almost two hundred years. In those two centuries, Mars is fully terraformed: transformed from a cold, dry, lifeless desert into a living world with seas, forests and cities. Not all main characters are happy with those changes: the battle between the Reds, who prefer to keep Mars as it is and the Greens, for whom...

Artist impression of the ESA probe Huygens, landing on Titan, largest moon of the planet Saturn, in january 2005

Space Quotes

This collection of quotes, wisecracks and oneliners was originally tweeted from the, nowadays pretty dormant, Modified MarsTwitteraccount. I felt they deserved a more permanent location; after all, colonizing the Galaxy is a long term project. Some of these quotes are funny, others are dead serious; occasionally they’re both. They all are, sometimes very obvious, in other cases rather remotely, linked to themes like Mars, spaceflight, astronomy or the universe in general. And since I call this an image blog, I illustrate this page with some space art I’ve produced over the years. “We are all in the gutter, but some of...

Atmospheric nocturnal picture of a terraformed Moon, low above the horizon, that shines its green-yellow light on a slightly undulating water surface with a sailboat on it

Getting Used to a Terraformed Moon

The last few weeks, I have once again been busy with an old hobby of mine: terraforming. A word that the spelling checker does not even know, but in science-fiction one can read it quite often: it’s about making other planets more friendly for lifeforms from Earth by adjusting the temperature and the atmosphere. Mars and Venus The terraforming of Mars is actually not that complicated. Simply pumping CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere will start a runaway greenhouse effect that turns up the heat and thickens the atmosphere. On our homeworld we are already practicing, unintentionally. What...

Artist impression of Terminator, the city moving accross Mercury from the science fiction novel 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

Terminator, Urbanism on Mercury

A few days ago American writer Kim Stanley Robinson shared on his Facebook page an artist impression that I made a few years ago, featuring Terminator, the mobile city on Mercury from his novel 2312. Robinson called it a beautiful visualization; or well, actually his literary agent called it that, but of course she wouldn’t have done so if the author didn’t agree. Enthusiasm by the creator of the concept, that is of course a nice compliment for an impression artist. I made the illustration two years ago after reading 2312. For some reason Robinson’s work often inspires me to...

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...

Artist impression of the interior of a giant hollow asteroid, seen from the shore of a lake, with two men on a wooden pier, looking out towards a city and the hills, lakes and cliffs beyond

Psyche Station: living in an asteroid

Some people use Facebook to watch cat videos or to read fake news. I use this medium for completely different things. A few weeks ago, my attention was triggered by a sketch my Facebook friend Shaun Moss posted. A simple drawing of a fairly extensive project: the excavation of asteroid 16 Psyche for the establishment of a space colony. The blue lines indicate a huge cylindrical space (the distances are in meters). Rotating the big rock around its central axis creates a centrifugal force on the curved walls of the cylinder. That force feels like gravity, like in a spinning washing...

De auteur in een fictieve aflevering van zomergasten, met op de achtergrond een still uit de film over de Bijenkorf van Dudok, spiegelend in het water rond de caravan

A Summer Guest in October

Every year in July and August there’s a show, made by VPRO on Dutch television, called Zomergasten (Summer Guests). From eight till eleven PM one guest shows and talks about his favorite television clips. The guests can be anyone, from the prime minister or celebrities from the world of entertainment to scientists or designers who are largely unknown outside their own field of expertise. Whining about the program is a kind of national sport. The skills of the host, the selection of guests and the fragments they choose, the occasions in which everyone is enthousiastic are very rare. One would...

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...

Impression of The Sulawesi Space Elevator, with a rotating space station and solar panels in the foreground, the Earth in the background and the cable with elevator cars in between.

The Space Elevator: It Ain’t Cheap, But…

An elevator into space: it sounds like science fiction. And that’s what it is: authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein and Kim Stanley Robinson wrote heavy books about it. But what’s science fiction today, is in the newspaper paper tomorrow and in the history books on the day after. And Arthur C. Clarke has been right more often; after all, he also conceived the communications satellite. An appealing concept In recent years, organizations such as NASA, but also companies like Google, started exploring the possibilities of the space elevator. And the concept certainly has some appeal. The traditional way to get...