Wanderers is a vision of humanity’s expansion into the Solar System, based on scientific ideas and concepts of what our future in space might look like, if it ever happens. The locations depicted in the film are digital recreations of actual places in the Solar System, built from real photos and map data where available.
Without any apparent story, other than what you may fill in by yourself, the idea with the film is primarily to show a glimpse of the fantastic and beautiful nature that surrounds us on our neighboring worlds – and above all, how it might appear to us if we were there.
The Open Road – Earth
The opening shot is a montage showing a band of nomads walking westward across a valley somewhere in the north Middle East, just after sunset and around 10000 BC. In the emerging night sky, the planets are shining clearly. From the horizon in the lower right to the top left they are as follows: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
I don’t know if the planets have ever been aligned like this in our sky, perfectly according their order of distance from the Sun, probably not but I figured it was a nice way to start the film. The wanderers of the earth under the wanderers of the sky. [source]
Leaving – Earth
Sometime in the future, a large spacecraft is taking off from Earths orbit, filled with passengers on a long journey to somewhere else in the Solar System. This may be the first large colony to permanently settle another world.
The background is a classic photo of the Earth from space, with the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean, taken from the International Space Station on July 21, 2003. I mapped the photo on a curved plane and replaced the optical flare from the sun with a digital flare to be able to create some motion. The original photo can be seen here. [source]
The Great Red Spot – Jupiter
This is the view from a spacecraft in orbit around Jupiter, looking down at the huge anticyclonic storm known as the Great Red Spot. This storm has been a permanent feature of Jupiter for over 300 years, when it was first discovered, and it is clearly visible through a telescope from Earth. The size of the storm as shown in this picture is large enough to swallow the Earth two times whole and then some, which gives an idea of how enormously huge Jupiter is. The texture of the planet comes from a mosaic of photos from NASAs Voyager 1 flyby in 1979, assembled and processed by Björn Jonsson (as seen here).
Unfortunately it seems as though the possibility of a view like this is about to disappear from the Solar System, as the Great Red Spot have been shrinking drastically since the 1970s. Today, it is only about a third of the size depicted here, and in a few decades it may be gone entirely. But who knows, maybe it will grow larger again, or a new storm will appear. I wanted it in the film anyway, since it is such a beautiful and awesome phenomenon. Here is a great article about the Great Red Spot (and it’s shrinking) by astronomer and blogger Phil Plait. [source]
Enceladus Limb – moon of Saturn
Shown here is a spacecraft floating through the amazing cryo geysers on the south pole of Saturn´s moon Enceladus. These geysers (discovered by the Cassini spacecraft in 2005) are formed along cracks in the moons icy surface and shoot powerful jets of – amongst other stuff – water vapor and ice particles into space. Some of the plumes reach heights of several hundreds of kilometers, and while most of it falls back as “snow” on the surface, some particles are shot into space and become part of the famous Rings of the parent planet of Saturn. The geysers are one of many hints that there are large bodies of liquid water under the surface of the moon, making Enceladus a prime target for the search for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System.
The photo I used for the background was taken by NASA with the Cassini spacecraft in 2005 and can be seen in its original form here. For the texture of the moon I took some liberties and tweaked parts of this beautiful composite of the full body of the moon, also by NASAs Cassini spacecraft. [source]
Ring Surf – rings of Saturn
This shot shows a person floating just above the plane of the famous Rings of Saturn. The Rings themselves are seen here only as a mess of tumbling blocks of ice, as the camera is in the middle of them, but their full shape is hinted in the shadow they cast on the northern hemisphere of Saturn, far in the distance.
The Rings of Saturn are immense! They main ring system have a radial width of about 65000 kilometers, from the edge of the inner D Ring to the outer F Ring. That means you could line up 5 Earths next to each other, starting from the edge of the inner ring and still have room to spare before you reach the outer edge. Yet they are remarkably thin. Observations vary from about a kilometer down to only ten meters or so. From a far distance they appear as an opaque disc, but from closer observation they are clearly a system of thousands upon thousands of stripes and gaps of varying widths. On an even closer look, it is revealed that all those stripes are made up of countless individual particles, ranging in size from smaller than a grain of sand to something like a basket ball. Some are large as a small bus. All of them made from clear water ice, constantly shattering and rebounding with each other, making the rings highly reflective in sunlight and so clearly visible to us.
There are, as of yet, no real photos from within the Rings, so this is my best guess of what it may look like. This shot is created from scratch (as in no photos used), but I was very inspired by this photo by NASAs Cassini Spacecraft from 2004. [source]
Mars Elevator – Mars
This shot follows the cabin of a space elevator descending on a cable towards the northern parts of the Terra Cimmeria highlands on Mars. A large settlement, hinted as glowing lights in the dark, can be seen far below on the ground. One of Mars’ two moons – Phobos – is seen above the cabin to the left of the cable in the beginning of the shot.
The space elevator is an idea that has been around for a long time, not only as science fiction but a serious suggestion of how to efficiently transfer large amounts of mass on and off a planet. The idea in short consists of a very long cable, along which cabins can climb up and down like an elevator. One end of the cable is attached to the ground at the planets equator, and the other to a counterweight beyond geostationary orbit. Geostationary orbit is an altitude where an object can stay stable in orbit over the exact same place above the ground and follow along as the planet revolves. In the case of the Earth that is at an altitude of about 36 thousand kilometers, so we are talking about a very long cable.
Although this concept is indeed a viable idea, it is also highly controversial when it comes to building one on Earth, and this may indeed turn out to be impossible due to the incredibly high demands on the strength of the cable in relation to its weight. On smaller, lighter worlds, however, like the Moon or on Mars, the prospects for a future space elevator are somewhat more promising. As Mars’ diameter is about half of the Earths, the elevator cable wouldn’t have to be as long to reach geostationary orbit and due to the lighter gravitational pull it wouldn’t suffer as much stress from its weight.
The texture for Mars in the shot comes from a tremendously high resolution assembly of NASA (and ESA?) orbital photographs made by John Van Vliet for the virtual space simulator Celestia. [source]
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