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Why Russian Space Images Look Different From NASA's

samzenpus posted about 3 years ago | from the behind-the-iron-filter dept.

Earth 203

An anonymous reader writes "The Russians have published two amazing photos of Earth using their new Elektro-L satellite, in 30,000km high orbit around the equator. The quality is stunning, and they look quite different from NASA's Earth images. But why are they different? And are they better than NASA's?"

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203 comments

borked link (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35673232)

Is it just me or is the gizmodo link borked?

Re:borked link (5, Informative)

sproketboy (608031) | about 3 years ago | (#35673412)

Gizmodo always does that. The links all revert to their home page like the fucken inbred assholes that they are.

Remove the "#!" part.

http://gizmodo.com/5787176/this-is-the-moon-and-the-earth-like-you-have-never-seen-them-before [gizmodo.com]

Re:borked link (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | about 3 years ago | (#35673426)

Gizmodo decided that their content looking a particular way was more important than working without javascript. They're probably right, I block their ads too, so I'd be less than worthless to them even if I was willing to let them run code in my browser.

Re:borked link (2)

presidenteloco (659168) | about 3 years ago | (#35673444)

It's definitely borked still if you're on an iPhone. Goes to m. then fails to find the link. Also trying to localize. What a godawful mess of site disfunction.

Re:borked link (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35673708)

Is it just me or is the gizmodo link borked?

No the link is broken and uses geo-location CRAP to completely lose it and when you have got past it then there is this floater infront of the page from another CRAP advertiser, No-script and adblock to the rescue

Re:borked link (1)

gullevek (174152) | about 3 years ago | (#35673760)

It is borked. If you are in Japan, you will be sent to the JP version where there is no article. In future it would be nice to link directly to the US page. Shitty gizmodo design. Seriously.

Re:borked link (1)

billcopc (196330) | about 3 years ago | (#35673980)

No, the link is fine, it`s Gizmodo itself that's borked. Ever since that nonsensical redesign, the whole site is one giant mess of AJAX.

Re:borked link (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35674048)

If you're not from the US of A, it is. You'll have to copy/paste the link and change the server from "gizmodo.com" to "us.gizmodo.com". The idiots from Gizmodo don't think people from Brazil would possibly want to see content in English...

Re:borked link (1)

markzip (1313025) | about 3 years ago | (#35674476)

The US site is completely broken with scripting off. They've got so much cruft it's embarassing. Hey Nick, ever hear of progressive enhancement? Gracefully degrading? Judging from the hash bang in your URLs, I'm guessing you don't care. Thanks for breaking the web, buddy.

Connection speeds (0)

quiet down (1795010) | about 3 years ago | (#35673262)

Me > Russian space program in terms of Mbits per second. Awesome.
PS: I know that a connection of such a huge distance would grind commercially available speeds to a halt, but don't piss on my parade.

Re:Connection speeds (1)

smash (1351) | about 3 years ago | (#35673532)

Uh no... We had 2 megabit (down) satellite internet (i.e., from earth station, to satellite and to the other side of the world) in 1998.

From satellite down is only one transmission - from sky to ground.

Gizmodo? Seriously? (1, Insightful)

phantomcircuit (938963) | about 3 years ago | (#35673292)

Gawker media should be summarily banned.

For those who don't know why http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/12/12/2234252/Gawker-Source-Code-and-Databases-Compromised [slashdot.org]

Re:Gizmodo? Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35673522)

Dont register then...

Just because they had a hack doesn't instantly discredit anything ever posted on the site

Re:Gizmodo? Seriously? (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 3 years ago | (#35673812)

I was tolerant with them getting hacked. They had what, my username, a deliberately weak password I didn't use elsewhere, and my email address.

I was even tolerant of their new layout. It still hasn't grown on me, but I can live with it.

However, their incessant sucking of Steve Job's iCock, the fact that half their recent articles could fit inside a tweet, and even less professionalism than Slashdot's editors, means that Gizmodo is on my ignore list. I'll still get gamer news from Kotaku, and still read my Morning Spoilers for TV shows I don't watch (just to maintain my ability to converse in Nerd), but gadget news will come from elsewhere.

Re:Gizmodo? Seriously? (1)

heptapod (243146) | about 3 years ago | (#35674274)

It's sad that people link to Gawker. If one scrolls to the bottom of the Gawker "article" they'll see a link to the original story. Post that link and fuck Adrian Chen and his cronies their ad revenue for shitposting and acting like it's real journalism when they're paraphrasing the original article.

So they are blaming the russians for false color? (-1, Troll)

slasher15 (2030182) | about 3 years ago | (#35673298)

They blame the russians for publishing false color images of the earth? NASA does that all the time [freeblogspot.org] Look at that blog for detailed examination of NASA tactics

Re:So they are blaming the russians for false colo (1)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | about 3 years ago | (#35673418)

Some NASA guy just explained that the Russian images are no worse and no better than NASA's images; they're just looking at the earth in different ways. There's no hint of blame anywhere (and indeed, there's nothing to be blamed for).

Re:So they are blaming the russians? (1)

jelizondo (183861) | about 3 years ago | (#35674746)

Of course there is blame!

They pretend to show the Earth is round and lookit the Moon, round is too!

Nah, they just want to discredit God-fearing Americans who know the Earth is flat(*) because the Good Book says it so!

(*) I don't know that the Bible says the Earth is flat or not, but having been used to prove just about anything, I might as well postulate that it says it is flat.

Re:So they are blaming the russians for false colo (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 3 years ago | (#35674942)

The Russian satellite also captures slight different wavelengths. Even if they had the same views, it would look different.

Money (-1, Flamebait)

tekgoblin (1675894) | about 3 years ago | (#35673300)

I guess the Russians spend their money on better satellites while we spend all of our money on other countries wars.

Re:Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35673384)

You're a fucking douchebag. Have you ever heard of GPS? We spend billions of dollars on satellites every year. We're probably the leader in satellite technology and deployment.

Re:Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35673450)

I guess you could read the fucking article and not guess

Look worse. (1)

dadelbunts (1727498) | about 3 years ago | (#35673314)

Nasa ones look better to me. Sand is a sand color, and the areas of shallow water are the turqoise blue/green color that they should be. Russian ones just show a flat dull blue.

Re:Look worse. (1)

catchblue22 (1004569) | about 3 years ago | (#35674876)

Look at the Nile Delta. In every picture I've seen, including Google Earth, it is green. In the Russian photo, it is rust brown. I'm not sure how or why they did this.

Re:Look worse. (2)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 3 years ago | (#35674948)

From the article: "The images . . . are a combination of visible and near-infrared wavelengths, so they show the Earth in a way not visible to human eyes (vegetation looks red, for example). They're not any better or worse than NASA images, but they show different things.". The Russian satellite just takes pictures using different wavelengths. I think the NASA pictures do not use as much near-infrafred.

Please don't link to Gizmodo (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35673330)

Gizmodo redirects any traffic to their localized versions. For example, I'm in Brazil and if I follow the link provided in the summary, they redirect me to http://www.gizmodo.com.br/#!5787176/this-is-the-moon-and-the-earth-like-you-have-never-seen-them-before -- that doesn't exist and goes to the front page of the localized version.

Note that I both my OS and browser are in English. I even made sure that my "preferred language for displaying pages" are only English. I guess they do the redirection based on IP only, and find that quite rude.

Re:Please don't link to Gizmodo (1)

vbraga (228124) | about 3 years ago | (#35673372)

It works for me. Also in Brazil with Windows7 (English) and Firefox4 (English). Never had a problem.

Re:Please don't link to Gizmodo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35673530)

I stand by what I said. I does that with me with regardless of OS and browser. Tested with Windows and Linux.

I found that it I set a cookie to the US version, and then reopen the link, it works. I will not, however, create and keep a cookie on every machine I might use just for Gizmodo's sake. It they want to fuck their website with their stupid hash-thingy URL and redirection, it's their problem. It's just a pity that sites like Slashdot keep linking to them.

Re:Please don't link to Gizmodo (1)

moonbender (547943) | about 3 years ago | (#35673710)

Same here, except I get the German version. German Gizmodo is -- hard to believe but true -- even worse than Gizmodo. I am talking mild nausea from looking at the frontpage for more than a few seconds. I might sue.

Re:Please don't link to Gizmodo (2)

marcelo.mosca (772859) | about 3 years ago | (#35673756)

Replacing www.gawkersite.com.br with us.gakwersite.com on the url fixes it.
And yes, I also think it is annoying.

Re:Please don't link to Gizmodo (1)

seifried (12921) | about 3 years ago | (#35673974)

I'm from Canada using English Firefox/Win7 and I got the url "http://ca.gizmodo.com/#!5787176/this-is-the-moon-and-the-earth-like-you-have-never-seen-them-before" and an article about watches, it wasn't until I scrolled past (counting... 33?) other articles that I got to the one about the space images. This is just fantastically bad.

Re:Please don't link to Gizmodo (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 3 years ago | (#35674774)

Yeah I'm in Canada, but my PC regional setting is set to JP, and I get the japanese edition? Ah ... what the fuck? Screw this, the submitter should be launched into LEO for doing this. And Gizmodo should be launched into the sun.

Re:Please don't link to Gizmodo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35674338)

+1. Gawker sites are broken to hell unless you're silly enough to allow their JS to run.

Re:Please don't link to Gizmodo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35674722)

Gizmodo redirects any traffic to their localized versions. For example, I'm in Brazil and if I follow the link provided in the summary, they redirect me to http://www.gizmodo.com.br/#!5787176/this-is-the-moon-and-the-earth-like-you-have-never-seen-them-before -- that doesn't exist and goes to the front page of the localized version.

Note that I both my OS and browser are in English. I even made sure that my "preferred language for displaying pages" are only English. I guess they do the redirection based on IP only, and find that quite rude.

They seem to do this for Canada too. And looks like its based on IP geolocation.

http://ca.gizmodo.com/5787305/cream-sugar-and-some-endo+exothermic-phase-change-material-for-your-hot-coffee

Got the front page too.

Bla (4, Informative)

vbraga (228124) | about 3 years ago | (#35673362)

In my experience with remote sensing better looking means nothing. What matters is the what kind of information we're able to extract from images. Like:

http://www.sciencephoto.com/images/download_wm_image.html/E750009-F._colour_Landsat_image_of_a_reservoir_in_Virginia-SPL.jpg?id=697500009 [sciencephoto.com]

This a useful Landsat image (or composition, actually). It's also very ugly. But it's very useful.

We often had a guy to make a few beautiful images. Do the composition in the GIS software we used normally and our designed retouched it on Photoshop. People often went "wow" when looking at it but it was useless.

Re:Bla (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35673612)

In my experience with remote sensing better looking means nothing.

For most of the world it is awe inspiring and gives people a sense of community for the earth. If that means nothing to you, I think that is a little sad.

Re:Bla (1)

vbraga (228124) | about 3 years ago | (#35674268)

After you look at satellite images year after year you care less about them. A few great images like the pale blue dot are inspiring but a land cover image in false color is pretty much boring.

Re:Bla (1)

Clsid (564627) | about 3 years ago | (#35674456)

He is a scientist in that field. What part don't you understand? Of course he recognizes the value for the general public. Why had a designer to retouch the images if they didn't? He's just saying that "with remote sensing better looking means nothing"

Possibly Nasa is doctoring their images (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 3 years ago | (#35673378)

for whatever reason ?

Re:Possibly Nasa is doctoring their images (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 3 years ago | (#35673796)

Th Germans bought an understanding of style, propaganda and understood US tax payers wanted to see something that looked good in print for their $ over many years.

Re:Possibly Nasa is doctoring their images (2)

sjames (1099) | about 3 years ago | (#35674324)

Quite the opposite really. The Russian image is mostly from the infrared actually, so the colors are necessarily false. As realistic as it seems, that's not something the naked eye can ever see. It is a really nice artistic rendering, but probably not what they use for analysis.

Re:Possibly Nasa is doctoring their images (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35674394)

It has to be shiny... I bet it's no different in China or Russia. Oh, wait, this time Russia is carrying a more real-looking image... maybe it will be ordered to match the US version next time.

Anyway, look at the dark portion of Earth: at least a thin area should be "night", and therefore, dark. I decomposed the photo using Gimp (RGB components) and adjusted the blue layer to be darker and more contrasting.

Composed again and got a darker Earth with an unsaturated patch next to Mexico (south of California). The overall blue color (I'm thinking rgb.txt / webcolors) here was replaced with a more "navy" tone.

Maybe some additional adjustment is needed, as the sea is somewhat "greener" in certain places. It seems it's noon in Hawaii and I don't know what color is the Pacific Ocean; also the Earth atmosphere might add a faint blue veil which would be hard to remove (hard to me, at least!).

Whatever (2)

QuantumG (50515) | about 3 years ago | (#35673390)

Terrible article.. what's amazing here is that a whole mess of satellites have been launched to GEO but this is the first time anyone bothered to release photos from the altitude to the public. Isn't it glorious to see the entire Earth in one frame?!

Re:Whatever (2)

maxume (22995) | about 3 years ago | (#35673734)

Dish Network has a camera on one of their satellites, and of course they have a channel showing what the camera sees.

Re:Whatever (3, Informative)

Truth is life (1184975) | about 3 years ago | (#35674674)

NOAA [noaa.gov] (who is the one responsible for most American earth observation satellites, not NASA, although I'd hardly expect the Slashdot editors to know that subtlety) has been releasing image data from the GOES satellites to the public for a while. "GOES" stands for "Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite," so yes, they are in geostationary orbit.

I hate javascript (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35673396)

Any website that doesn't let you read content without javascript isn't worth reading.

1st and I hope last time on gizmodo (4, Interesting)

leehwtsohg (618675) | about 3 years ago | (#35673416)

Oh, gizmodo is horrible. First it took me to the german site, which didn't have the article. Then, after lots of manipulation (click the little 'US' label on the left top), I got to the article, but couldn't figure out how to close the stupid window that covers half of the cool image they're talking about.

But, to the subject: Isn't it fairly obvious why the russian image looks better? Look: compare the NASA image: http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view_rec.php?id=2429 [nasa.gov] to the russian one: http://www.russianspaceweb.com/images/spacecraft/application/weather/elektro/earth_disk1_1.jpg [russianspaceweb.com] One obvious difference - in the NASA image, clouds have no shadow, in the russian one they do. That makes the NASA image look flat, and the russian one jump out in 3D. Why that is, I'm not sure.

Re:1st and I hope last time on gizmodo (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35673524)

The blue marble image is a composite image of many different pictures and sources taken at different times. The cloud layer was taked seperately from the other layers and stitched on to become part of the entire image. The Russian picture, however, is from one single image and is how the earth looked at that moment.

Re:1st and I hope last time on gizmodo (3, Insightful)

leehwtsohg (618675) | about 3 years ago | (#35673564)

Yes, I think you are right. And the cloud layer has some obvious photoshop artifacts.. strange. (go left from panama, you'll hit a cloud with w hole, and a bit further left, another cloud with a hole. These two clouds and the region around them are pixel copies of each other. That was pointed to in a comment on gizmodo)

Re:1st and I hope last time on gizmodo (1)

yotto (590067) | about 3 years ago | (#35673978)

(go left from panama, you'll hit a cloud with w hole, and a bit further left, another cloud with a hole. These two clouds and the region around them are pixel copies of each other. That was pointed to in a comment on gizmodo)

Panama? I only see an image of Africa and Asia. Is there a link to this image of the Americas?

Re:1st and I hope last time on gizmodo (4, Insightful)

yoshi_mon (172895) | about 3 years ago | (#35673626)

Yeah, that site is a mess if you are using NoScript. I normally will allow the site itself and see if that will fix it but it did not. So rather than allowing the 5+ data-mining addresses to operate I just will do without.

Re:1st and I hope last time on gizmodo (2)

sjames (1099) | about 3 years ago | (#35674438)

I had to pull up the DOM Inspector, locate the stupid window in the code and delete it to view the page properly.

Re:1st and I hope last time on gizmodo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35674720)

I had to pull up the DOM Inspector, locate the stupid window in the code and delete it to view the page properly.

Nothing ever published on gizmodo has been worth that much effort. Though I thank you for sharing, and demonstrating what wankers these guys are.

In a Nutshell: (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about 3 years ago | (#35674708)

Beauty is subjective, but the Russian version seems to have 3 key things going for it:

1. It's taken with the sun at the side instead of behind the craft, making for deeper cloud shadows.

2. The NASA image was probably taken through different color/wavelength filters (as described in TFA) and the clouds and/or the craft move a bit between filter changes, blurring the clouds in the re-combined images. The Russian one used a camera that works more like commercial cameras: different sub-pixels for different colors sampled at the same time rather than filtering one color at a time.

3. Because the Russians use a near-infrared wavelength in place of a visible-length color (also described in the TFA), the result has a reddish tint because of the way vegetation reflects light. Red and orange tint tends to appear sharper and brighter to most people than green, giving the images a subjectively sharper look. TFA didn't mention this sharpness affect, but as an amateur artist, I have noticed it.

They are just different visualizations of reality (5, Funny)

screamphilling (1173499) | about 3 years ago | (#35673422)

"the Russian images are not better or worse than their images. They are just different visualizations of reality based on different data sets" and this sums up nearly everything ever.

Re:They are just different visualizations of reali (1)

MickLinux (579158) | about 3 years ago | (#35674552)

Ummm... but that doesn't mean that the US images are any better or worse than the russian images.

Take, for example, what appears to be a Cal Tech prank that seems to have made it into NASA's photo-of-the-day, back when CASSINI was sending pics of Titan.

http://csma31.csm.jmu.edu/physics/rudmin/titan/titan.htm [jmu.edu]

Now, the author may be right -- it wouldn't seem that Titan could have an atmospheric-style plume, with strong wind shears at 10000 feet, now, would it? But right or wrong, my point will still hold.

Point being, that unless you are somebody who knows what they are looking at, all the photos are simply a pretty picture, nothing more.

In post-Soviet Russia... (1)

syousef (465911) | about 3 years ago | (#35674634)

"the Russian images are not better or worse than their images. They are just different visualizations of reality based on different data sets"

and this sums up nearly everything ever.

In post-Soviet Russia, satellite data and image visualizes you.

Re:They are just different visualizations of reali (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35674822)

As pointed out previously, the images are 3d renderings, note the fake blue atmospheric haze in the visibleearth image above... In regards to the nasa image , the photo that is mapped on the sphere looks like the blue marble image(it's a 15year? old image), a mosaic composed of many small satellite photos from multiple passes(removing clouds) of the land masses, them edited to make the lighting, color(satellite image are rarely in visible wavelengths) and angles match. Also worth noting is that the sea, is hand done, and if you get down to the pixel level, some of the sea-land edges are a bit rough where there is shallow water included in the satellite image. And its an old school style rendering, possibly even straight from world wind... So no depth mapping or tessellation to the cloud layer, so no shadows or sophisticated rendering of light simulation...

The Russian one, looks more like "hole earth plates", especially the cloud layer, also adding a defuse, specular and depth map layer also helps to add realism to the image.

Nasa, Hollywood or I, could produce a more realistic/convincing image, even from the same data set; In regards to the original premise; perception is in the eye of the beholder, and production is defined by the audience.

Russians take better pictures. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35673470)

Just look at any of the several Russian photographers works on met-art.com or equivalent.

tl;dr (4, Informative)

Beardydog (716221) | about 3 years ago | (#35673488)

The Russian photos are made entirely of data from red and infrared sensors. The NASA Blue Marble image is a completely, tragically fake rendering, with visible polygon vertices... but mapped with photos from beautiful RGB sensors.

Moving the Moon (1)

smisle (1640863) | about 3 years ago | (#35673552)

If you throw the moon + earth image into an image editor and adjust the levels, you'll notice that the moon was moved to make it more .. photogenic. The other image also has some signs of editing ... really is kind of funny.

summaries should summarize, not tease. (5, Informative)

doug141 (863552) | about 3 years ago | (#35673590)

The russian photos in question combine infra-red with visible wavelengths. They are not better, just different.

Stop linking to Gizmodo! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35673636)

These clowns can't produce reliable URLs. Don't reward them with links.

The image [russianspaceweb.com].

Re:Stop linking to Gizmodo! (1)

Arker (91948) | about 3 years ago | (#35673846)

I was actually interested in the article, but when I tried to read it, I got the most godawful pile of junk I have seen posing as a web page for many days. Completely unreadable without allowing scripting, and allowing their scripts doesnt improve things. Presumably it would become readable if I were to whitelist the very long list of sites it is drawing scripts from, but this is ridiculous. Screw Gizmodo.

Vodka? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35673638)

May have something to do with color perception. Just sayin'...

If you fool me once, then fool me again.... (3, Funny)

Cameleopard (1366007) | about 3 years ago | (#35673790)

Curses! You tricked me into visiting Gizmodo. I will tolerate no more of your cretinous games!

photochopsky? yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35673806)

in russia we mock our own phony religions. so we don't cry, just like you. relska

Resolution is just resolution... (2)

Hynee (774168) | about 3 years ago | (#35673900)

These images look nice, interesting angles. They probably look slick because they've been post resized sharpened, the smaller versions on Gizmodo have been gently sharpened to make them pop a bit, it's a common photographic trick [kenrockwell.com].
Even if you have a sharp 12-24 megapixel image, it can always use some sharpening when it's downsized for the web. If you don't sharpen after downsizing, photographs still look great but not as crisp as they could.
(And yes, if you sharpen the full size image and then downsize, the downsizing obliterates the sharpening done at full size.)

Re:Resolution is just resolution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35673970)

Even worse, this image [gawker.com] looks like it has been first brought to 256 colors, then back to RGB..

Here's your explanation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35674384)

  • * All space images are false-color images.
  • * Images may be taken by different equipment.
  • * Images may be taken at different wavelengths.

Failmodo lives up to its name, as usual.

Come on people! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35674578)

The Russian images are using the metric system. Of course they are going to look different!

Obligatory moon hoax post (1)

zill (1690130) | about 3 years ago | (#35674744)

Of course it would look different. The Russian image is actually taken in space, unlike the NASA one which was filmed in a sound stage [xkcd.com].

Broken site (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35674776)

This (Gizmodo) web site is broken. There is a giant frame in the middle of the page that does not go away. Looks like javascript is required . . . lame.

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