MAR 05, 2018 7:21 PM PST

Why Most Pictures of Objects from Space Are Merely "Artist Renditions"

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard


Outer space is a playground for scientific exploration, but it can be hard to visualize the data we capture. In most cases, images found in scholarly space articles like those from NASA are merely artist's renditions rather than pictures of the actual thing, and there's a good reason for it.

Space observation equipment can gather data, but it's not very good at zooming in far enough to snap a crystal-clear color photograph of an exoplanet. Most of the time, exoplanets look like small 'blips' or drops in starlight as they transit the host star, but chemical analyses can help scientists discern what type of exoplanet it is, be it gassy or terrestrial.

Artist renditions exist merely as a visual representation to complement public statements. Pictures are worth a thousand words, and they can help the public better understand a concept residing several light years away.

Creating these renditions is a delicate art, and artists must be careful not to be misleading in their imagery. In most cases, artists communicate closely with the scientists involved in a study to drum up the best possible visualization before publishing it.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 16, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 16, 2019
Here's What Would Happen if the Earth Stopped Orbiting the Sun
The Earth orbits the Sun once every 365 days, or one full year. It does this while whizzing through the vacuum of space at break-neck speeds of up to 110,0...
DEC 22, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 22, 2019
Ever Wonder What Happens Inside a Clam's Shell?
Most people think of clams as a gooey blob inside of a two-piece shell, but there’s actually a lot more going on inside that shell that you might com...
DEC 23, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 23, 2019
Why NASA's Artemis Mission is So Important
If you’ve been following NASA, then you’ve undoubtedly heard about the American space agency’s Artemis mission. Artemis is all about laun...
JAN 23, 2020
Earth & The Environment
JAN 23, 2020
Scientists Assess the Value of the Ocean's Twilight Zone
Fifteen years ago, an international cohort of scientists and policy experts introduced the idea of assessing ecosystems by the "services" they pr...
FEB 09, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 09, 2020
Here's Why NASA Needs Another Space Station Orbiting the Moon
NASA already has the International Space Station at its disposal, and with that in mind, many have come to question why the American space agency plans to...
FEB 17, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 17, 2020
SpaceX Launches More Starlink Satellites, But Fails First Stage Landing
SpaceX launched yet another one of its renowned Falcon 9 rockets on Monday, this time carrying a plethora of its Starlink satellites that will fortify the...
Loading Comments...