Kerr, Richard A. "Do NASA Images Create Fantastic Voyages?" Science 255 (27 March 1992),
Scientists have distorted the images of space objects like Venus and the asteroid, Gaspra. The
video images get enhanced for a variety of purposes and it is the enhanced and eye-cathing
photos which make their way into pthe public eye. Unfortunately, the science community is to be
"scolded" for misleading the public. The published images do not reflect what the human eye
Clack Chapman of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson has criticized the images of Gaspara
which were shown the public. The true color should have been a rather flat gray but the scientists
working on the project chose a "butterscotch" which was a distortion.
"Having done his dissertation on the subtle grays of asteriod color, Chapman concedes the
difficulty of rendering colors as human would see them, but he thinks NASA could do better - or
alert the public to the inevitable distortions. ‘One coudl easily be more up front about it,' he
argues. ‘I'm not saying there's a conspiracy, but it sets people up to be disappointed with the true
nature of the universe."
One must add: dull photographs are not what the public wants. The magazines want the enhanced
protography and, were NASA and the other agencies not to provide them, they would not get