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A New View Of The Solar System

By Michael Benson
10/3/2012 11:54:52 AM

Jovian Moon In January 2001, Cassini swept past Jupiter en route to Saturn. As it did, scientists directed the unmanned craft to take a series of photos, some of which captured the transit of the volcanic moon Io at Jupiter's limb. Benson combined 27 frames into nine composites, which he then stitched together. Michael Benson

Michael Benson has created God's own view of the universe. To make the images on display in his upcoming book, Planetfall, Benson first combed through the tens of thousands of photographs publicly available from NASA and the European Space Agency. Most of his selections came from unmanned spacecraft hurtling through space, while some came from rovers on Mars or crewmembers aboard the International Space Station.

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He then processed the raw files and stitched them together into mosaics that tell a particular story-the Milky Way rising over Earth, for example, or the transit of Io at the limb of Jupiter. Photos from unmanned probes are normally black-and-white, shot with a variety of filters. To add color, Benson typically overlays images originally filtered in red, green and blue to create a composite spectrum that replicates what the human eye might see. The process can take weeks, but once it's completed Benson is left with something unique: an image that is as close to the view from a passing spacecraft as most of us will ever come.

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