Tag Archive: space

Saturn, My Ass

Someday I am going to write an epic rant about the fraud that is NASA, but that day is not today. However, I do need to vent my spleen about something.

Take a good, hard look at this image (click on it to enlarge):

What are some of your first impressions?

You may note that:

  • It is pretty. The news describes it with words like “breathtaking” rather than, say, fraudulent.
  • It looks like an illustration, not a “photograph” unless you have been told that’s what it is.
  • It is indistinguishable from science illustrations and CGI you have seen in recent science fiction movies.
  • There seems to be something wrong with the picture that you can’t put your finger on.

The image above (an unedited copy) is claimed by NASA to be a photograph of the planet Saturn and its rings. Well, more specifically, it’s claimed to be a composite of photos taken of Saturn and its rings by the satellite Cassini. This satellite, a co-project of NASA and the Italian government, took these photos and then suicided into Saturn, we are told.

I will just go ahead and say that any reasonable person examining this image carefully, with an open mind, will conclude that it is, in fact, a piece of artwork, a creation– not a photograph.

Can you spot the mistake the artist made? (Scroll down when ready.)









A shadow is not a blackness, it is the absence of light. What you can observe in the photo: The “shadow” of Saturn is a blackness with form that is dissimilar to what we understand of shadows. Pay particular attention to the left edge of the shadow. You can see the shadow has a nice sharp edge against the rings yet you can see the rest of the planet, faintly, below the shadow, which literally makes no sense.

I suppose for the sake of the argument you could posit that the black thing is not a shadow but something else since this is space. What, I don’t know. Or that shadows work differently in space. I would argue that the artist clearly meant that big black blob to be a shadow. They set up the light source (ostensibly, the sun) to be shining a from the top back of the image toward us.

Occam’s razor, folks.

The simplest explanation is that this is an artist’s rendering. More specifically, an artist’s rendering separated out into 9 pieces with 3 layers each, and then stitched back together by someone (anyone) else.

To be crystal clear, I am not accusing the person who stitched it back together of any foul play. I’m saying the original images did not come from any satellite and were wholly created on a computer by people. Actually, probably not even “people”…probably just one single person at NASA whose job it is to create these images at a tiny fraction of the cost of actually building and sending Cassini into space.

Would you know this is a “photograph” if nobody told you that? Can you honestly say this is distinguishable from CGI? Does the shadow look right to you, considering the millions of shadows you’ve observed in your lifetime?

Being a dual citizen of Italy and the US, I am doubly dismayed at this. I have believed NASA to be a fraudulent organization for quite some time now. It’s disappointing, to say the least, that the Italian government was involved in this.