UV been framed: science photographs that are literally out of this world
Awful puns aside, there are two photos this week that absolutely blew me away. The first is from the amazing Curiosity rover, beaming back high-res images from the surface of Mars. This week it took one at night:
It may not seem like much, but this is a picture taken in the absence of sunlight on a planet that is at least 34.6 million miles away. The idea is to see if anything fluoresces under ultraviolet light. That the camera is mounted on a nuclear-powered, laser-wielding robot car only adds to my awe at what Nasa and its engineers and contractors come up with.
The second photo is from a camera that spent a mere five minutes outside Earth’s atmosphere, strapped to a rocket. Five minutes is not enough to take a usable picture of my incessantly blinking extended family, but it was apparently enough for scientists to snap a 165-frame flipbook of ultraviolet radiation that was detailed enough to solve one of science’s weirder solar conundrums. Watch the video — that is the thing responsible for all life on this planet: