How NASA Visualizes Stunning Worlds Without Really Seeing Them
Images of space and distant galaxies are all over the internet, but where do they come from? This piece in WIRED shows how raw data becomes art.
EVERYONE LIKES A good space photo. They’re colorful, they’re otherworldly, they make an inoffensive desktop background. And that’s not to trivialize them: Artists’ renderings of exoplanets are gorgeous, imaginative visions of what it might look like to live your life circling another star, and they’re devilishly tricky to make.
Images sure don’t come straight out of space telescope looking press-release ready. Each visualization is the result of artists and planetary scientists collaborating to convert blips on a data readout into something that looks like a planet—all while remaining scientifically plausible. It’s a tricky balancing act that doesn’t always go smoothly. But the illustrations are genuinely useful. They don’t just get regular people fired up about exoplanets, they help scientists working on the systems articulate their work’s importance. And in the incredibly expensive field of space science, you’ve got to be exciting to get funded.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.