Tuesday, March 27, 2012

NASA Wants You to Find Hubble’s Next Iconic Image

NASA Wants You to Find Hubble’s Next Iconic Image:

NASA wants you to help search for spectacular but overlooked images from the Hubble space telescope.
Hubble has made more than a million observations during its two decades in orbit. Astronomers working with Hubble data have created amazing, iconic images of gaseous nebulae, forming stars, and massive galaxies.
Only a handful of researchers have looked at much of the Hubble archive, which is stored in an online public database. NASA and the European Space Agency, which jointly run Hubble’s website, want people to discover what’s been overlooked.
The agencies are now running two contests for the best hardly-before-seen Hubble pictures. Because the multifaceted images are scientific data and not normal digital photographs, they contain far more information than is visible to the naked eye. By manipulating the images, members of the public may potentially reveal a different side of a famous picture such as the one above or uncover something completely new.
For Hubble’s Hidden Treasures Contest, amateur astronomers can use simple online tools to adjust the zoom, contrast, and color balance on images, and save the work in a standard JPEG form. Upload the pictures to a special Flickr page and they may be featured as future Hubble images of the week (or perhaps find their way into Wired Science’s space photo of the day collection). The user who submits the best photo will win an iPod touch.
If you want to dig deeper and learn how to use some astronomical image processing software, try Hubble’s Hidden Treasures Image Processing Contest. Users can download raw Hubble data and manipulate the files to produce beautiful new results. Several different software options exist for the interested amateur image processor, including a free Photoshop plugin called FITS Liberator. Participants can upload their images to the competition’s Flickr page and the winner will receive an iPad.
Both competitions close on May 31, 2012. You can check out the competition’s website or Facebook page for more information.

Image: One of Hubble’s Top Ten images, depicting spectacular details of the Orion Nebula. NASA, ESA, M. Robberto (Space Telescope Science Institute/ESA) and the Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team.

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