News / USA

    Photos Reveal Stunning Perspectives of Space

    Images taken by manned spacecraft, robotic space probes

    Europa (upper right) is one of Jupiter's moons. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot (left) is a vast cyclonic storm system about two times the size of Earth.
    Europa (upper right) is one of Jupiter's moons. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot (left) is a vast cyclonic storm system about two times the size of Earth.

    Multimedia

    Links

    For decades, the U.S. space agency, NASA, has been exploring space not only with manned spacecraft, like the shuttle Atlantis, but with robotic space probes like Mars Odyssey and Cassini, which is currently exploring Saturn.

    Equipped with powerful cameras, these robots transmit pictures that provide information about the climate and topography of other planets.

    They are also works of art.

    Especially in the hands of photographer Michael Benson. "Beyond: Visions of Our Solar System," a new exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. features nearly 150 of Benson's transformed photographs.

    Space curator

    Some images in "Beyond" are immediately recognizable, like Saturn with its rings, the fiery red, orange and yellow ball of the sun, and the rocky red Martian landscape. Others look like magnified microscopic organisms rather than planetary panoramas.

    Io, one of Jupiter's moons, is the most volcanic object known to man, with at least 200 contstantly erupting volcanos.
    Io, one of Jupiter's moons, is the most volcanic object known to man, with at least 200 contstantly erupting volcanos.

    Benson selected the images from five decades of robotic space probe photography, beginning with the lunar orbiters of the 1960s to probes that are still sending images back to Earth today from Saturn and Mars.

    "Almost all of these pictures are taken by spacecraft with telescopes, which either flew past the planet or orbited it or landed on the surface of that planet," says Bensen.

    Benson published many of these images years ago, in a book entitled, "Beyond: Visions of the Interplanetary Probes."

    Seeing his role as that of a curator, he searched through hundreds of thousands of raw frames looking for shots that he considered extraordinary. "I have an eye for abstraction. I like pictures that subvert expectation a little bit."

    Works of art

    He turned raw images into gallery-ready prints

    The images taken by the space probes are often low-contrast, with some digital glitches that appear as black spots.

    This image of a global sandstorm on Mars was pieced together from dozens of individual frames taken from the Viking orbiter of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
    This image of a global sandstorm on Mars was pieced together from dozens of individual frames taken from the Viking orbiter of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

    Benson used graphic software to clean them up and filters to correct the color. Several of the photographs in the exhibit were also pieced together like a mosaic or jigsaw puzzle, including one of a global dust storm on Mars.

    "It is comprised of about 90 individual frames from the Viking orbiter of the late 70s, early 80s. And I'm particularly proud of it, because it would not exist in anything like this form if I hadn't found the individual frames as I was going through all of these hundreds of thousands," says Benson.

    He is also proud of a black-and-white image made up of 90 frames taken by Voyager I, which began photographing Jupiter in 1979.

    On the right hand side, Europa, one of the planet's moons, stands out crisp and clear against impressionistic swirling clouds that are reminiscent of Van Gogh's "Starry Night."

    "Europa is one of the most enigmatic places in the solar system," he says. "It is an ice covered ocean. Underneath is liquid water, and it is one of the leading candidates for extraterrestrial life."

    Not all of the images are extraterrestrial.

    An image of the Earth showing the Mediterranean is a favorite of the photographer. (above, Credit: SeaWiFS Project; NASA; Orbimage; Kinetikon Pictures)

    "You can see sand blowing into the Mediterranean from the vast desert in North Africa, the Sahara," says Benson. "You can see smoke from burning forests here in the southern Adriatic sea blowing into the Mediterranean."

    Virtual voyager

    It's not just the power of the image that appeals to Benson, though. It is knowing that, in this part of the world, the idea of exploration took root.

    "You know [Homer's] 'Odyssey,' which is the original expression of our yearning to adventure and travel around, okay, in this case, islands, but it's a precursor of space flight I would say."

    Although Benson hasn't traveled into space, he says working on the exhibit was the next best thing. "At times I almost felt like I was on one of these voyages."

    While "Beyond: Visions of Our Solar System," will run for a year, NASA's space probes will continue to take photos of our celestial neighbors for many years to come.

    You May Like

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    City could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters

    Turkey Aims New Crackdown at Journalists, Academics, Airline Workers

    Ankara continues targeting people allegedly linked to exiled cleric, who it says led the failed military coup

    Pakistan Ready to Inaugurate Rebuilt Afghan Border Crossing

    Construction of Torkham Gate triggered deadly clashes between Pakistani and Afghan military forces

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora