NASA unveils gorgeous new false-color image of Pluto

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Nice. But no direct link?


Pluto is so much more interesting than I was expecting (and I was expecting some dazzling stuff).

Tut tut Xeni, no direct link!

Great photo. Going to download the HD version now :grinning:

Any chance to get more in-depth explanation of the instrument and the color assignment? What about an image where you could click at a pixel and get shown the raw and interpreted data its color was chosen from?

Pretty pictures are pretty but ultimately meaningless without the underlying data.

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I find myself unable to look at a picture of Pluto without seeing the head of, well, Pluto.

Can’t unsee!


new false-color image


The data is coming (they mentioned in the press conference that they’d release the underlining data behind the picture soon), the problem is that its on a spacecraft that transmit with a very weak high gain antenna (due to engineering constraints. Think worse than a 56k connection) from so far that it takes 4 hours for the data to get here. We have to be patient for this mission. There is better stuff on the spacecraft than what we’ve seen so far, but we can’t get it all down until October 2016.

I’m well-aware of it. There will be more and better. But we are talking now about a false-colors image, with no descriptions of what the colors mean. Without the description it is merely pretty. The data are already down there, the colors are made from them.

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The falseness of false colors is overrated.

All colors are false, until someone perceives them.

See Goethe’s Theory of Colors for more in this vein.

The dude had some potent and decidedly non-Newtonian ideas about light, color, perception, and the nature of reality. And not just poetic vapors: Goethe was a natural scientist; he developed theories, and then performed experiments to test them.

On the poetic side, I am further reminded of this phrase from the diary of E.B. White:

I am always humbled by the infinite ingenuity of the lord, who can make a red barn cast a blue shadow.

Added: PS, love that Pluto. Go Pluto!

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“Color” is a shorthand for “spectrum”. As perceived, it is the EM spectrum end-to-end, multiplied with the three pretty narrow sensitivity spectrums of eye sensors; then it becomes subjective. The spectrum of the light is the objective, true, observer-independent color. Using other instruments than eye (e.g. multispectral or hyperspectral cameras) we then can apply the same concept of perceived color to a way richer gamut.

…which extends the definition of “color” past the visible range and allows imagining of how we’d see the world if we’d not be doomed to the puny sliver of give or take 400 to 750 nm. And allows using expressions like “infrared dye”.


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