A Space Odyssey (6 Photos)
By digging through the online image archives of various space probe missions, photographer and filmmaker, Michael Benson, has compiled his third collection of planetary landscape photography. The images–many of them close-ups of the surfaces of moons, asteroids and Mars–offer an awe-inspiring look at the desolate places that were once only imagined by science fiction writers and filmmakers. Benson photographs the black-and-white images through various filters to render the scenes in color, then he layers the images with a complicated compositing process. Going through the RAW images, he says, “is like being along for the ride. There’s a lot of panning for gold in the archives, which I really enjoy. And if you’re lucky you get something really unusual. You just sort of know it when you see it.” Shown above is a Cassini space probe image from January 18, 2005, showing the moon Mimas in transit across the northern hemisphere of Saturn. The images are among a collection published in Planetfall (Abrams) last October, and will be on view at the Hasted Kraeutler gallery in New York City today through March 9. To learn more about Benson’s work, read the Q+A with him from the November 2012 issue of PDN.
The largest sunspot of Active Region 10030, photographed through a solar telescope on July 15, 2002 by Swedish scientists. ©Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences/Göran Scharmer, ISP/Mats Löfdahl, ISP/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures.
Cratered surface of the asteroid Vesta, one of three surviving remnant protoplanets in the asteroid belt (between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter). Photographed August 11, 2011 by the Dawn space probe. ©NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures
View from an altitude of 35 miles above mountains on the far side of the Earth’s moon, near Aitken Crater. Photographed June 23, 2011 by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. ©NASA GSFC/Arizona State University/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures
Summit view looking south from the top of Husband Hill on Mars. Mosaic composite photograph from images shot by the Mars Spirit Rover, September 4–7, 2005. ©NASA/JPL-Caltech/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures.