It was the Chalmers Day today – a day long event with many lectures and discussions on sustainability. My favourite was Anders Ynnerman’s walk through a 3D journey in cosmos. It was a flat-screen version of the Cosmos 3D show that is screened at Visualization Center C in Norrköping. The movie started with a real-time view of the earth from the ISS. Being a low earth orbit satellite, looking at the earth from the ISS does not give a complete view of the earth but just a part of its curvature. When the presenter asked us to take a guess at which part of the earth we were over, I almost thought it must be Sweden since it had been cloudy and raining all day today and so was the view of the earth from space! But then the camera (or the Uniview visualization tool) zoomed out a little bit and we could see the entire globe and it turned out that the ISS had been over east Africa, somewhere over the thick dense rainforests. Virtual lines/effects showed the magnetic field around the earth distorted by the solar winds. The camera continued zooming out step-by-step giving a view of the trail of low earth orbiting satellites, GPS satellites, geostationary satellites and the orbit of the moon. The camera further zoomed out until the entire solar system with the orbits of all the planets (and Pluto) came into view.
Since the planets are really small compared to the size and extent of the solar system, they were of course not visible in the view of the orbits as seen in the above picture. Therefore, the size of the planets were blown up and made thousands of times bigger just to give us a view of how it all looks and where in the orbit the planets are right now.
Our next destination was our closest neighbour – the red planet. We zoomed onto the surface of Mars and saw some really interesting looking terrain, some parts looked very much like frozen ice to my eyes!
We also visited one of the moons of Mars – Phobos. It was so tiny and so not round. Just a small asteroid-like rock!
Next, the size of the asteroids were blown up so they could be seen. The asteroid belt sure was crowded!
Have you heard of the Voyager and Pioneer space missions? These were probes launched with the intention of leaving the solar system. The picture below shows where these probes possibly are today (far outside the solar system).
The journey out into the cosmos continued on with the very many stars and constellations like Vela and Orion coming into the frame.
As we moved further out from the constellations, we reached a distance to which the first radio signals ever sent out from the earth had travelled up to. If we were at that distance now, we can hear those radio signals.
As we moved further out, we could see the Milky way and the many other galaxies including Andromeda.
We continued on this journey until we had moved out 13 billion light-years away from the earth since the big bang is said to have occurred about 13 billion years ago. We had reached the end of the universe as known to us. The picture below shows the known universe as one huge sphere with our galaxy at the centre of it. Are we really at the centre of the universe? Well, maybe not. But whatever we know of our universe is only how much ever and whatever we can see from the earth. And so from our perspective, it looks like we are in the centre.
Finally, we had to get back home and from the above view of the entire universe we travelled back to where our dear earth is. One tiny dot (or even smaller) in the vast universe and (in spite of all the possibilities of many other life-sustaining planets) the only known planet to be sustaining life! How fortunate we are to be living on earth. We really must take care of our planet! 🙂
The 3D show was an amazing way of getting a perspective on where we are in the universe. I’m quite sure the 3D effect would be much more enjoyable in the dome structure at Norrköping compared to the flat-screen show we got to see today. Would love to go there some day!
P.S. All photos (and video) are of a screen that was playing 3D video and were taken from an ordinary phone camera; so obviously they are not very good!