Michael Benson is a filmmaker whose spent hours parsing through the thousands of black & white and color images taken by NASA space probes and landers. In his book Beyond: Visions of Interplanetary Probes, he has painstakingly pieced images together to create a view of space that takes my breath away. Looking at the images in this book takes me up and out. (Note: This is viewed as a good thing.)


“I still can’t believe that some of the pictures I found — which were frequently lost among tens of thousands of others in the Voyager and Viking archives — aren’t as well-known as that famous Apollo ‘Earthrise over the Moon’ shot,” Benson added, referring to two NASA deep-space missions launched in the 1970s. “I think they are just as capable of changing our sense of our situation in the universe. When I spotted certain Viking shots of the Martian moon Phobos suspended over the deserts of the Red Planet, or Voyager images of Jupiter’s bizarre moon Europa hanging over that planet’s immense spinning storm systems, I could scarcely believe my luck.”

The book has been out for a few years, so finding a copy online isn’t difficult.




4 Comment

  1. Elatia Harris says:

    Just gorgeous! Reminds me of the show in 1985 in NYC in the lobby gallery of the then AT&T building (Philip Johnson’s Chippendale pediment building) — computer-enhanced Voyager photos. This when a computer-enhanced space shot
    was anything but routine. The images were so beautiful, so majestic that it was hard to take in that they coincided with some of the art world silliness that year. Thanks!

  2. shoofoolatte says:

    Even the language used to describe these photos is mysterious and awesome to me: “deep space”, “spinning storm systems”, “our sense of our situation”.

  3. joefelso says:

    This post roused that moment in “Blade Runner” when Roy Batty—the android played by Rutger Hauer—is on the brink of death and says, “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. … I watched c-beams … glitter in the dark near Tanhauser Gate. All those … moments will be lost … in time, like tears … in rain.” I’m glad these images weren’t lost and sad that we haven’t taken the time to appreciate what we’ve seen in space.

    I was with a school group in New Mexico recently photographing deep space objects. A real talent lies behind “processing the data” to form these images. It is truly a marriage of science and art.

  4. Thank you for the reminder of the line from “Blade Runner”–so apropos and unforgettable.

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