Mar 28 2011Because Space Is Actually Colorless: How NASA Uses Photoshop TO CREATE LIES



Space isn't actually colorless, I just made that up so people who only read the headline go spread misinformation and hopefully lose bets. But for the rest of you, nothing but the facts. My penis could feed an entire village for 18 months. Plus NASA uses Photoshop to manipulate shots from the Hubble Space Telescope to make us think space is actually cooler than it really is (SPOILER: I've been there, it's a shit-ton of nothing).

This time lapse shows how the image of NGC 3982--a spiral galaxy 68 million light-years from Earth, in the Ursa Major constellation--was made using seven grayscale images captured using three of Hubble cameras. The processing job took 10 hours of scaling, rotating, aligning, color processing and missing pixels and artifacts restoration.

Scientists have to choose how to represent this information in a way that we can observe directly. Sometimes they will use a natural representation, which is very close to what we would see if we zoomed there inside the Enterprise. Other times they will choose representative color, which helps them see invisible features of the object--like those that can only be captured in infrared or ultraviolet light. And sometimes they show the image in enhanced color, a hyperrealist mode that brings a lot of hidden, subtle details.

There's 10-hours of edting packed into a 2-minute video after the jump, that talks you through the process. Basically the style of Photoshoppery depends on a particular photo's intended use. Which, to the best of my knowledge, ranges from 'look cool' to 'look really trippy'. Unfortunately, for those of you who were hoping for some insight, there was little talk of how they faked the moon landing, but my guess is in a giant underwater tank. "Like...the kind with a cannon?" *kicks you in the nuts so hard you cry sperm*

Hit the jump for the informative video.

This Video Reveals How NASA Photoshops Hubble's Images [gizmodo]

Thanks to Brittany, who's out of this world. Get it?! Seriously, we's like zoomin' through outerspace in a rocketship exploring nebulas and moonin' all kinda freaky aliens.

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Reader Comments

WHOA........First?! :D

@1 stumbling upon a post on a blog before anyone else has commented is quite the accomplishment. You should be proud

Oh goody. Here comes all the "ZOMG THE SHADOWS ARE ALL WRONG" comments....I will perform a jetstreaming super-soaker shit all over the face of each person that does this....

wom wom

This is funny. It's like nasa said "Well, most people are idiots, especially about space so we'll just add some pretty colors so they think it's worth looking at." Maybe if they put secret, hidden images of guys wearing glasses in the images for people to find, even more people would be interested in space

@5 How about Waldo? He was always fun to find.

I mean, anyone who's a space geek already knew about this. There are limitations to everything, especially those telescopes. Not really news.

Da fuck happend to that other post that was just here?......wiiiIErrDDD....

" And sometimes they show the image in enhanced color, a hyperrealist mode that brings a lot of hidden, subtle details."

And sometimes they show the image in "crop out that spaceship and conceal it from the public" mode.

It's only colorless near Uranus.

No, check out my colorful backside:

Are you talking about my David1?!

The fact is that astronomy deals with the entire spectrum of light that is way beyond the human capacity, so they have to rescale images in order for us to look at them. They aren't lying, this is just how things would look if our eyes could see at different wavelengths of light. The process isn't "photoshopping" in the sense that they are just coloring it however they think it would look pretty, it's much more scientific than that. I can also personally attest that they do not use Photoshop to do these colorings, so basically this video is just plain untrue

The universe hates color? Man, that's racist.


lord knows nature needs some touching up


#13 is correct. I am an amateur astrophotographer myself and even amateurs take monochrome CCD captures of each different colour channel (RGB) and sometimes different wavelengths such as infrared, UV, or hydrogen alpha (reds found in nebulae and galaxies). These monochrome images are then merely combined using the colours to which they correspond.

My flickr has true colour photos of some nebulae and galaxies (I'm not very good or experienced, but I have managed limited success).

A short Nasa photoshop video.

@3 You should check with your doctor about that sorta thing.

I don't know whats more disturbing...the fact that a bunch of people here have nothing better to do but argue in a forum under a post, or the fact that I read them all.... order your digital tattoo today!

@2 is jealousssss! :D

@13 and 18

Have you ever seen a photograph of our galaxy ? How did they take that ?

Cue Daisy?

@18 Can we see your flickr? Link please.

You really should do something about all these junk comments, it makes it virtually impossible for a real reader to be heard.

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and that is how they remove all the ufo and other interesting shit that is out there. JUst saying!

Is this really news? If you look up the original sources for space photos they usually tell you how/why they color the images. National Geographic does this all the time. Likewise the micro-photos of cells, bacterias, etc.

@23 Not our galaxy. Just some random other spiral galaxy since we know ours is a spiral and so they'll likely look similar-enough to get the point across. Usually when they show pictures of "our" galaxy it's probably the Andromeda or Triangulum galaxy. However, fun fact: ours probably doesn't quite look like those as research in the past 15 years has shown ours to be a barred spiral galaxy. To see what are likely looks like, check out NGC 1300 or NGC 1365.

our* galaxy

(facepalming at self)

the galaxy is as colorful as you can imagine, it is just the pictures they color, because the photos are sent in black and white

may be true but they use infrared and radio telescope to determine maybe heat color, too lazy to look it up lawl

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