Window on the universe
“In the evenings, when my particular piece of Earth has turned away from the Sun, and is exposed instead to the rest of the cosmos, I sit in front of a keyboard, log on, and seek out the windows that look down at the planets and out at the stars. It’s a markedly different experience from looking at reproductions on paper. What I see is closer to the source. In fact, it’s indistinguishable from the source. These are images that have never registered on a negative. Like the Internet itself, they are products of a digitized era. Over the past couple of years I’ve been monitoring the long rectangular strips of Martian surface being beamed across the void, in a steady stream of zeroes and ones, from the umbrella-shaped high-gain antenna of the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. These pictures are so fresh that their immediacy practically crackles. Call it “chrono-clarity.” That bluish wispy cloud, for example, hovering over the Hecates Tholus volcano, which rears above the pockmarked surface of the Elysium Volcanic Region in the Martian eastern hemisphere — it has barely had time to disperse before I, or anyone with Internet access, can see it in all its spooky beauty. The volcano emerges from the pink Martian desert, which looks organic and impressionable — like human skin, or the surface of a clay pot before firing…”.