Tagged: spaceflight

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 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...

Artist impression of planet Earth, seen from a location at 50.000 kilometres above the Netherlands, showing the Northpole, Europa and Africa

Rotterdam, Netherlands, Europe, Earth, Universe

April 22, the birthday of this blog entry, is Earth Day. There is no better day imaginable to talk about satellite and astronaut photographs of our planet. History The first satellite in orbit around the Earth was, in 1957, the Russian Sputnik-1 (which in fact simply means Satellite-1). However there was no camera on board. The first pictures of the Earth were made a few years later , on April 1, 1960, by the American weather satellite TIROS-1. Since then, our home world has been photographed many times. Some of these images have become iconic, like the Earthrise photograph from...

Close-up of the Earthrise stained glass window showing a piece of the globe with Europe, the Atlantic and North America

Earthrise as a Mosaic and a Stained Glass Window

Earthrise is the name of one of the most iconic images of the twentieth century. The photo, of planet Earth above the gray landscape of the Moon, was taken by astronaut Bill Anders, during the Apollo 8 mission on December 24, 1968, Christmas Eve. Lonely this Christmas Astronauts Frank Borman, Bill Anders and Jim Lovell were incredibly far from home in late December 1968. To boldly go where no one has gone before, indeed. And all this over Christmas. After all, there was a space race going on: staying ahead of the Russians was more important than spending the holidays...

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...