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Now Online: Images From The Dawn Of The Space Age

As part of this week’s Festival of the Planets celebration, University College London has made available to the public a selection of historic images from its archive. Included are glimpses of the surface of Venus.

What’s the Latest Development?

In conjunction with this week’s European Planetary Science Congress in London, and as part of a public event series titled “Festival of the Planets,” University College London (UCL) has posted on its Web site a selection of historic space images from its archive. Some of them have never been made public before. One of these is a moon map, made by amateur astronomer Walter Goodacre at the start of the 20th century, which was originally divided into separate plates so it could be published in book form. For the site, the plates have been stitched together into a single map “which is amazingly detailed considering it dates back to a time when observations were conducted without today’s powerful telescopes.”

What’s the Big Idea?

The map as well as many of the other images posted online were created long before the Internet existed in its current form. UCL researchers also reassembled images of Jupiter’s moons beamed back to Earth in the 1970s by NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 to create mosaics that include handwritten notes from the scientists. One of the most interesting sets of images is of the surface of Venus, which comes courtesy of the Soviet Union: Their Venera probes still are the only man-made devices to have ever landed on the planet.

Photo Credit: UCL Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences

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