Category: Space art

The names of all bodies in the Solar System larger than 100 kilometres, with font sizes relative to their radius, based on the realistic colors of the objects against the black background of space

87 Members of the Solar Family

A while ago I made a family portrait of the solar system. Or rather a portrait of the leading members of the family, the eight planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Earth, Venus, Mars and Mercury. Moons, asteroids and dwarf planets But there’s more happening around the Sun. Moons for instance; our own Moon, of course, but also a large number of satellites of the four gas giants. There is an asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter where, besides a lot of little ones, also bigger objects are turning their rounds. But many asteroids can be found outside… Read More

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

The terraforming of Mars is a fascinating subject. Is it possible to transform that lifeless desert planet into a living world with seas and jungles? Can some other colors, especially green and blue, be added to the Red Planet? In any case, now that we are dangerously warming our own planet, terraforming is no longer a theoretical concept. Mars Society Netherlands The Red Planet 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 years… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More

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

Probably not everyone realizes that there is also wind outside the Earth’s atmosphere. And that you can also sail in space. Sailing on a different kind of wind, that is: solar wind. The particles that make up sunlight exert force on the objects that are illuminated by them. Johannes Kepler was, in the 16th century, the first to realize the possibilities of a solar sail. He came to that insight while studying a comet. The tail of a comet is caused by the solar wind blowing its particles into space. Sustainable spaceflight The power of the solar wind is small… Read More

NASA's indestructible Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, still going strong after two hundred years, driving around on the terraformed former Red Planet

Opportunity’s Bicentennial

More than eleven years ago, on January 25, 2004, Opportunity, NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover, landed in Meridiani Planum. An identical rover, Spirit, landed three weeks earlier, on the other side of Mars. Both vehicles were expected to remain active for 90 Martian days, more or less equal to three months on Earth. The Martian climate would claim its toll, or so the mission planners feared. Although on Mars the sun shines more than six hundred days a year, the dust storms and large daily temperature differences would surely leave their mark. Indestructible Oppy But the rovers appeared to be more… Read More

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 First 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… Read More

Kerstkaart met schilderachtig beeld van een kerkje in het winterlandschap in nationaal park Thingvellir in IJsland

Merry Christmars

For decades, I’ ve been putting a great deal of work into my Christmas cards. And sometimes into those of others. This year I made one by commission of Explore Mars, a (mostly) American non-profit organization that promotes Manned Mars exploration: The design and the text “Two Down, Mars and the Universe to go” is a reference to Neil Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind” and the recent landing of the European spacecraft Philae on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Mars comes into view as the next big step. And after that there are a few hundred billion stars and their planets to… Read More

Hebes Chasma, in the early stages of terraforming. rendered in Terragen, with NASA's indestructible rover Opportunity

Terraforming for Beginners

Terragen is software for generating landscapes. Landscapes on Earth but just as easily on other worlds, as is shown for example by Kees Veenenbos. Years ago I loaded some elevation data from NASA’s Mars Orbital Laser Altimeter into Terragen and I did some experimenting. There is a new version of the program now, which was a good reason to take those old terrain data off the shelf again. Rocks and grass There is much more possible with Terragen, these days. In the old days only aerial views could be made somewhat realistic. But nowadays you can add rocks, grass clumps,… Read More

Splendid isolation: the British Isles as if they were alone on a planet

English: a Global Language

In December 2013 I started my company 3Develop as well as my own website. Less than a month later I also launched the English version of the site. After all, the world is my homeland and English is the world language. My international ambitions were not without consequences. In early 2015, I spent two weeks in Watford, England, working on visualizations for St. Mary’s Church. And the English version of my blog post about the Inverted World Map is by far the most popular page on my website. Splendid isolation To celebrate the launch of my English website I made… Read More