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    • Hi Chris, I started out like many kids drawing before graduating to comics. I made comics quasi-professionally for about 10 years before I move into animation and then e-Learning as a designer & animator. I then made games for a few years before I decided to focus on my passion for astronomy and space art. I did attend art school briefly but I left when I got work illustrating, so I don't really have a formal education with respect to what I do.

    • 👆 Fascinating! From comics & illustration to becoming known for processing NASA space images.

      According to this article on PBS, when one of the lead investigators of the JunoCam project at NASA (Candice Hansen-Koharcheck) helped make it possible for citizen scientists to get ahold of RAW images and process them, she said the artist community getting involved blew her away. As a scientist, she would never have enhanced these images the way artists like you are are doing. But she loves it.

      What did you do? Were you worried what the scientists would think?

    • I wasn't worried initially because I was really taken aback by the detail achieved by Gerald Eichstadt ( who is one of the primary sources of the source material I use for my images ) and immediately saw an opportunity to improve the appearance of the images. Since I started around perijove 6 in May 2017, I have refined my approach to processing but there are still those who are concerned that these processed images are a distraction. I understand their concern but I consider these works of art, driven by data.

      It also helps that Van Gogh got there first.

    • Chris MacAskill

      Hahaha, Van Gogh did!

      To fill in for people following along, Gerald Eichstädt is a German mathematician and software engineer who takes the data in a strange format that NASA provides and converts it to a RAW file you can process in Photoshop, right? You're both doing this as a labor of love?

      I think this 1-minute video showcases your collaboration in a stunning way:

      Can you explain what we're seeing there? Do you really see cloud movement on Jupiter as the spacecraft screams by at 125,000 miles per hour? Or is this a simulation based on small movements?

    • I'm not sure if Gerald has an 'official' engagement with Juno but I do all of my work on my own time. The video you refer is Gerald extrapolating motion vectors from observed frames, which I have nothing to do with. So this video is a simulation derived from observation. Juno moves so fast during its perijove that it is only possible to get at most around 8 frames of the same spot on Jupiter with which to discern cloud movement. He does ALL the heavy lifting and it is really incredible what he has managed in such a short period of time. I should also mention that Björn Jónsson produces wonderful images from the same data, with a focus on natural patina.

    • Also for people following along, Perijove refers to a flyby of Jupiter that only occurs once every 53 days and lasts for only two hours, right? They are sequentially numbered and the gasses change between them to provide the unique images.

      Sean, these are sometimes referred to as false color images. What does that mean? Does it mean the colors are more saturated or are you actually assigning colors to specific areas?

      Here's one of Björn Jónsson's images that Sean referred to: 🤩

    • Yes that is correct, it takes around 2 hours for Juno to travel pole to pole. For fun I decided to make a video of what Juno would see in real time by referencing time-stamps on image range and interpolating Gerald's flyby movie of perijove 12...

      I don't think I have enough patience or intellect to try to answer the question of false vs true vs fake. Language is so politically charged now. For me the colours are true but enhanced in order assist with our perception & understanding of what is actually going on in those cloudscapes.

      I don't add anything to the images I make, most of the work is done enhancing what is already there by applying lots of tailored adjustments and local contrast masks. Jupiter is constantly in flux and Juno always on the move so I have to adjust my image process with each image, depending on what is in the frame.

      Scientists enhance images routinely but with the caveat that this is not as you would see it with your own eyes. That caveat is lost on people.

      Here is an early before & after...

      I've decided to focus on making nice pictures and people seem to like what I make and for me that is a bonus.

    • people seem to like what I make

      Correction: LOVE!! 🤩

      You've been patient and your answers have been great, so I'll restrain myself to just two more. The first is you've created other things like this amazing timelapse of the International Space Station orbiting the earth in real time, which has gotten half a million views:

      Also, one of your rocket launch videos as seen from space went high on Reddit the other day.

      How did you develop this passion for space that seems to have nothing to do with your career? I notice you're watching the Mars Insight landing later today (!!).

    • Ah that's an easy one. It's all the fault of Carl Sagan & George Lucas. I saw the original Cosmos TV series back in 1981 and I saw Star Wars later that same year. The scope of the uinverse as we understand it versus how we imagine it was revealed to me then. Both absolutely captivated me. Later when I experienced 2001 A Space Odyssey, it became a catalyst for creative expression. I started looking for a way to share my enthusiasm for science & art.

      I discovered unmannedspaceflight forums which led me to my interest in the Curiosity mission...

      I discovered the HiRISE camera...

      Over the last year I've been working with the amazing ISS archive, using interpolation to create smooth playback of time-lapses, recently culminating in this video which I finished yesterday...

      I love being able to use scientific data for artistic purpose. My vocational hobby is turning into a career and with luck I will be able to continue learning and sharing that with anyone who wants to go with.

    • Thank you, Sean. For those following along, the unmanned space forums Sean refers to is:

      👆 They have a thread on following the Mars InSight landing today.

      Final question: social media and the press have discovered you. Was there something that triggered it? My hypothesis is the photos of Jupiter were SO AMAZING so you ended up getting covered by places like The Atlantic. What do you think?

    • Yes the Jupiter work has had the most response. My breath was taken away when I saw the images for the first time myself so it is gratifying to see that people feel the same way.

      When Juno performs its Jupiter drive-by every 6 weeks I have a tendency to pester Candy & Gerald when they expect the data to arrive on Earth. It is a thrill to process this data and create something brand new within minutes of it arriving from Jupiter.

      Crowd-sourcing the Juno outreach has been a good success for the Juno team and I hope NASA & maybe even ESA see this a a good model to build upon in future missions. Yeah, I'm looking at you Mars 2020, with your fancy helicopter!

      I hope that made sense.

      All the best,

    • James

      PJ16 South Pole at Minimum Emission Angle processed by me.

      I'm not sure that I have found the place on the NASA website with the best files. All I have found are PNG files with dimensions of 1600 pixels by 1600 pixels.

    • Thank you for sharing your work, Sean! The creativity of it as well as the sophistication of the execution are on point. Astronomy was my first love and I'm sure I'm not the only one that has found that passion reignited by your work. Keep doing what you're doing!

    • I think the sensor on the camera is the KODAK KAI-2020, capable of color imaging at 1600 x 1200 pixels. Image capture is complicated because the orbiter is rotating and because there are four filter strips, so the camera only captures 1600 wide by 150 rows high per exposure. They capture a lot of exposures to get to 1600x1600 and it apparently takes a lot of reconstruction.

      Here's more about that:

    You've been invited!