The latest in Ph-word: June & July ’22

To this blogger’s great relief, June didn’t have any great ph-news; or I didn’t notice as I was traveling happily and didn’t sit down to blog in July (see the personal posts for more). But then, the only sizeable news came from July, so here they are. They both involve photos from space.

The Tithonium Chasma part of Valles Marineris (ESA/DLR/FU Berlin)

ESA released new photos from the largest canyon in the solar system, Valles Marineris on Mars. They were shot by Mars Express and are closer and cooler than ever before.

The Valles is more than 4,000 by 200 km big and last December it was found that large quantities of water, pobably in the form of ice, lie beneath its surface. Which probably have had something to do with the formation of the canyon and its formidable structures at some point in the past.

NGC 3324 region in the Carina Nebula (NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI)

As everyone already knows, in the most celebrated ph-news of the year so far, NASA released the first deep space images by the James Webb space telescope.

They both are and look amazing. Actually I’d say that they are amazing more than they look amazing: on one hand, they are one of those mind-blowing astronomical and technological achievements that could justify not necessarily nuking the humankind away; but on the other hand, I can’t help thinking that this time they are over-coloured to the degree of touching a fake feeling.

(James Webb sees infrared light which is invisible to humans. So its photos have to be “translated” into colours we can see, which leaves much room for free interpretation. And probably for over-colourization. If you are also as squirmish as me about the issue of fake palettes in astronomy, you will find this interview interesting; it includes some surprising info about where the palette used in NASA images comes from.)

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