Monday, May 26, 2008

Coolest Picture Ever

Building on my previous post and tying in to an older one, this is the coolest picture ever. This is a photo of the Phoenix lander and its parachute as it descended toward the surface of Mars on Sunday. You can see some detail in the parachute and even a hint of the lines connecting the chute and lander.
Immediate obvious question: Who took this picture? Why, our old friend HiRISE (High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been orbiting and mapping Mars since March 2006. So an Earth probe circling Mars was aimed to take a picture of another probe landing on Mars. What I love about this image is that it probably happened just because someone said, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if...?" And it is, very cool.

Now that Phoenix has landed, I imagine they'll ask HiRISE to try to photograph it on the surface as well--if for no other reason than to figure out exactly where it is. I've seen HiRISE pictures of the two Mars rovers (Opportunity and Spirit) already there, and Phoenix should be baaaaarely visible from orbit.

What a great time to be alive.


Namowal said...

I was following the Phoenix's progress, thought wow, cool, and then thought, I bet that cartoonist/blogger fellow Brian is having a good time with this. Better swing by his blog...
Sure enough! :)

Sherwood Harrington said...

That was yesterday's Coolest Picture Ever, Brian.

Here's today's.