Peering into Space : Finding Inspiration in Satellite Imagery (III)
I have always been fascinated by satellite images of our solar system. The textures and terrains of the planets, moons and asteroids around us (and beneath us) have often found their way into my drawings, and flipping through the images often sparks new ideas for my collection of short stories. In each post in this series, I will present one of my original drawings alongside a resource for incredible satellite images. I hope to spread the wealth of knowledge that can be found in these lesser-known resources and most importantly pass along that feeling of wonder we all experience when peering into outer space.
Part One : My Creation
The above pencil drawing depicts a fictional planet where the laws of physics behave differently than here on Earth. On this planet, emotions are physical appendages that interact with the body. Below are a few excerpts from an early draft of this short story:
Memories are orbs of flowing liquid bobbing above your head, forever out of arm's reach. In some the liquid rages, roiling and temperamental, while others stay perfectly still, clear and coherent.
Anxiety is sticky and tastes of salty molasses. It oozes, matte and black, behind your eyes and down the back of your neck. It latches onto every passing What-if thought and every unfounded doubt and glues them in place. It seeps into the ruffles and folds of love and gives it weight where it desires lightness. It mixes with memories and turns the fluid into an idle sludge.
Love is a warm blanket that gives the body shape and color. In some places it scrunches up into too small a space and causes tightening. In other places it cloaks you and gives you warmth. In still more places it flutters in the wind and caresses you with a silky touch.
Part Two : The Universe's Creation
My drawing was largely inspired by satellite images of various planets and moons in our solar system. A couple years ago I came across an article on Wired.com about a series of beautiful space images created by artist Michael Benson. In his exhibition Otherworlds: Visions of Our Solar System, Benson took data from Nasa and ESA missions to create 77 images of our solar system, attempting to represent space exactly as our eyes would see it. He explains the thought process further in the Wired article:
Cameras aboard spacecraft like New Horizons and Cassini take images using filters that isolate different wavelengths on the electromagnetic spectrum. Some, like red and blue, capture light the human eye can see. Others, like ultraviolet and infrared, capture light it can't. All the images arrive to Earth as black-and-white frames, and then are assigned colors digitally and compiled into a composite. The trouble is, it's not always clear whether an image you see floating around online is true color (showing visible light) or false color (showing invisible light). They can even be a mixture between the two. "When NASA releases images that are 'false color' because it shows something interesting about the atmosphere, I end up wincing a little," Benson says, "because people who see those might think that's what it really looks like."
Below you'll find some of my favorite images from this beautiful collection, but I encourage you to read the full Wired article to learn more about this project, and also check out Michael Benson's website to learn more about the artist:
Let me know what you think of these images in the comments below.
All feedback is welcome!