Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spinning Moons

This afternoon I was learning a few of the bells and whistles of the matplotlib Basemap toolkit. As a side product, I ended up with a script to animate a wobbling/spinning planet.

So, here's a couple moons!

Titan, largest moon of Saturn:

Source for map one and map two.

Io, innermost of Jupiter's large moons and most volcanically active body in the solar system:

Map source.

Europa, next of Jupiter's large moons, with a skin of ice covering a sub-surface ocean:

Ganymede, third large moon of Jupiter, and largest moon in the solar system:

Callisto, Jupiter's most distant large moon, with one of the most cratered surfaces in the solar system:

Map source.

Enjoy! If you have other moons you would like to see added, let me know and I'll see what I can do!

Update: At your request, I'll be adding some additional moons below.

The Moon!

Enceladus, Saturn's small but surprisingly active moon with huge space geysers!

Mimas, Saturn's "Death Star" moon (unfortunately I can't capture its geoid or topographic relief ... yet).

Iapetus, Saturn's starkly two-toned moon (this animation does not capture its equatorial ridge).

Triton, largest moon of Neptune. The map of Triton remains incomplete (our only high-resolution data is from the 1989 Voyager 2 flyby), so I focused this render on the hemisphere that was mapped. I say we go back and finish the job!

Enceladus, Mimas, Iapetus, and Triton maps all sourced from here.

Finally, here's a moon-sized (smaller than both Ganymede and Titan) planet - Mercury! I combined a partial enhanced-color map with a more complete black-and-white map to fill in the gaps.


  1. Mimas!

  2. Really very informative about the "Spinning Moons"......................
    Keep sharing it.....

  3. Love these Awesome solar pictures. Keep up the good work. Amazing!!
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  4. Would you be willing to publish the python code you used to make these? It looks handy!