Video Chat From Outer Space With These Custom Wallpapers
With much of the world now stuck at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems like the whole world — adults, kids, babies, cats, and dogs — is now using video-conference software to stay connected. Since some services like Zoom allow you to create virtual backgrounds, I thought I might offer you the opportunity to take your home office to Mars, or the Moon, or other fun places in space.
Here’s a collection of images sized and cropped specifically for use as backgrounds for video. They’ll work as desktop and phone backgrounds as well. Have fun with them! Make your colleagues guess where you are! If you have requests for other backgrounds, ask me on Twitter. I’ll probably add to this collection as time goes on.
I’m providing these backgrounds in UHD (3840 by 2160, the size of many new monitors these days), HD (1920 by 1200, which is what you need for Zoom), and in a vertical crop for phones (9:16 ratio, 1215 by 2160).
Wallpaper: Opportunity “Rub Al Khali” Panorama, sols 456-464
This is the Opportunity Pancam "Rub al Khali" panorama, acquired in the plains of Meridiani on sols 456 to 464 (6 to 14 May 2005) from a position about 2 km south of Endurance crater at a place known informally as "Purgatory Dune," where the rover was stuck in the deep fine sand for more than a month.
This stunning image mosaic of the Columbia Hills includes rocks that show evidence of past alteration by water. This approximate true-color image, nicknamed the "Cahokia panorama" after the Native American archaeological site near St. Louis, was acquired between sols 213 to 223 (9 to 19 Aug 2004). Because the rover was parked on a steep slope, it was tilted approximately 22 degrees to the west-northwest.
Okay, let’s go to the Moon. I just love the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter oblique shots of lunar landscapes, like this one across part of Orientale basin.
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter took this photo of the Moon's Orientale basin on July 1, 2016, from an altitude of 79.3 kilometers, gazing toward the east. The view is about 13 kilometers wide. The rounded mountains at both sides are two of Orientale's rings. Click for different-size wallpaper download options.
Wallpaper: Crew Dragon Ready to Dock at the Space Station
Crew Dragon holds position 20 meters away from the International Space Station's forward docking port on 3 March 2019, during its inaugural test flight. Click for different-size wallpaper download options.
Juno captured this view of Jupiter during its seventh perijove flyby on July 11, 2017, from a distance of 11,445 km. The swirling oval storm looks similar to the Great Red Spot but is actually in the northern hemisphere. Click for different-size wallpaper download options.
Wallpaper: In Saturn's Shadow (The Day the Earth Smiled)
On 19 July 2013 Cassini passed into Saturn's shadow and turned toward the Sun, capturing an image of the planet's night side and the weirdly lit semi-transparent rings. Cassini also captured seven of the moons and three planets. This was the third time our home planet was imaged from the outer solar system; the second time it was imaged by Cassini from Saturn's orbit; and the first time ever that inhabitants of Earth were made aware in advance that their photo would be taken from such a great distance.
The Pleiades and their associated filaments and clumps of dust. To their south is a diffuse warm glow known as the zodiacal light. The WISE spacecraft took the images for this composite in infrared wavelengths. Click for different-size wallpaper download options.
Let’s go deeper into space. It’s hard to know where to begin with Hubble images, but I liked this one because if you position yourself right, you can make it look like your head’s exploding with profound insight. (It’s actually M82, otherwise known as the cigar galaxy.)
NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Wallpaper: M82, the Cigar Galaxy
The Hubble Space Telescope captured this enormous mosaic of M82, located in Ursa Major, in 2006. The galaxy is remarkable for its bright blue disk, webs of shredded clouds, and fiery-looking plumes of glowing hydrogen blasting out of its central regions. Click for different-size wallpaper download options.
I hope these images provide some inspiring views or levity in your telecasts in the coming weeks! If you use any of the photos, The Planetary Society could be thanked with a shout-out to our website. Whether or not you can do that, I hope you enjoy them.