It’s pretty awesome we live in an age where we as humans can take really awesome pictures of other planets that are farther away then our minds can really comprehend. If you go back, a lot of the pictures of other planets and stuff in space were usually the work of satellites far above our heads or beamed millions of miles from some expensive satellite whipping around the cosmos faster than anything you have ever seen.
Most of us now are used to that kind of image coming from the Hubble Telescope flying over the planet and taking pictures that our eyes cannot comprehend on our own. It was designed that way, and outside an image focusing glitch that required a spacewalk to fix, it does it well. There is a lot out there, but Hubble was the best we had to get a look at what is really out there.
But recently, us people who are out of the loop in space technology was shown pictures that were pretty astounding. And it wasn’t Hubble that took it. A color picture of Neptune, the furthest planet (by current standards anyway) from our own. These pictures were clear enough that we can see clouds around the blue planet.
Granted the picture isn’t what most would call High Def, but they are some of the best pictures we have of Neptune to this point. And it wasn’t from a Satelite that has taken a lifetime to send and receive data, or pictures taken from Hubble Itself, but from an Earth-based Telescope.
It is from European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope located in Chile. And that just got a brand new upgrade. The upgrade package is called a Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer, basically, it clears images up from the distortion of light and a lot of space.
Space pictures and images of planets like that take a lot of effort. There are things that get in the way and light traveling that kind of distance, bends in weird ways, and take while to get to us (They are called Light Years for a reason), but with all that I’d say they get a good result.
As someone who grew up on scientists and teachers showing us Voyager pictures from a day gone by, these are pretty stunning. Hopefully, this will create a new generation who will grow up on space picture taken from Earth in a much better degree then their parents grew up on.
I’m not sure what the funding situation is for the VLT, or the difference it has with the Hubble’s money situation from NASA, but having something that powerful here on Earth must have some advantages. Space Travel isn’t cheap. Maybe this kind of technology will bring a new way of doing things like upgrades, maintenance, and things like that. Watching a spacewalk to fix Hubble’s issue was an event, would something more Earthbound make that kind of thing an issue of the past?
And the thought of the future comes to mind when you think of “What else can this take pictures of?” The Universe is BIG, and there doesn’t seem to be a big rush on it, but I’d like to see more of what this new upgraded unit can show us. If it can take pictures like that of our furthest planet in the Solar System, what could it do for other things, other planets, or if you want to get really fanciful, stuff even further away?
It probably won’t be replacing anything right now, but it may down the road. It is a different Idea than what many of us have been given. With anything new, it takes a little time to figure things out.
But the fun in new things like this is not only what it can do now, but what will it be capable of doing in the future?