Shooting “Color” in the Blackness of Space
A beautiful image of Saturn’s tiny moon Daphnis, but where is all the color? Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
If NASA is so advanced, why are their pictures in black and white?
It’s a question that I’ve heard, in one form or another, for almost as long as I’ve been talking with the public about space. And, to be fair, it’s not a terrible inquiry. After all, the smartphone in my pocket can shoot something like ten high-resolution color images every second. It can automatically stitch them into a panorama, correct their color, and adjust their sharpness. All that for just a few hundred bucks, so why can’t our billion-dollar robots do the same?
The answer, it turns out, brings us to the intersection of science and the laws of nature. Let’s take a peek into what it takes to make a great space image…
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