Pretty pictures…

Pretty pictures. Nothing wrong with them. Even though the very term “Pretty pictures” is often used in a derisory way – usually by people who place more importance on “hard science” and data than on mere images, however beautiful they are – it’s fair to say that most of the people who follow space missions would much rather see a picture of an actual place, be it covered in ice, dust or lava, than a graph or a chart. So, although I can appreciate a good error bar, and can find beauty in a plot of data points, my main love in astronomy is, and I’m not ashamed to admit it, the images sent back to Earth by our robot ambassadors scattered across the solar system. And at the moment, Curiosity is way, waaaay ahead in the “Best Photographer in the Solar System” contest.

Here’s a mosaic I made of a great bucketful of indiviual images taken of Mt Sharp, the mountain that dominates the centre of Gale Crater… Click on it to enlarge it, as usual…

Next: I was struck yesterday by how much this image (actually a mosaic of two separate images) of part of Curiosity with the rocky floor of Gale Crater in the background…

…reminded me of one of the images taken by Viking 2, all those years ago…

And finally for this time, another version of that now iconic “self portrait” taken last week…

Ok now, cards on the table, I have messed about with that something *rotten* to make it look that way, so if you’re wanting a realistic view of the rover’s camera mast, in front of the martian landscape, well, that ain’t it! What it is is an unashamedly “pretty picture”, created to look – hopefully – wonderful… :-)

Amazingly, more than a few people have criticised NASA for taking that image, saying it was a waste of money, or arrogant, or worse. One particular plonker,  who posted one arrogant, self-satisfied, smug diatribe (often with incorrect spellings and bad grammar, ironically) after another over on the UNIVERSE TODAY forum until he got banned, ranted on about how the image was a symbol of American arrogance, etc etc… Prat. He just didn’t Get It. And I honestly think that picture, that self portrait, was taken for People Who Get It, and not for the general public. I don’t mean that to sound disrespectful, not at all. I just think it was taken for people who can find beauty in a close-up image of a single martian rock, or a dusty, blank sky, or a mesa or butte, dimmed and blurred by distance. It was taken for people who find wonder in the very thought of a robot driving across Mars, taking photos and collecting data. It was taken for people who look up at Mars, shining in the sky like a drop of candle-lit amber, and smile because they know there are rovers on it, all those millions of miles away, exploring on our behalf.

People like you…  :-)

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3 thoughts on “Pretty pictures…

  1. Birgit says:

    Yes,Stu, that`s right……

  2. Albert Pols says:

    Beautiful pictures indeed, but now get on with the driving , or are there
    problems we don,t know off.

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