Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Competition time

Since its launch in 1990, the Hubble telescope has beamed hundreds of thousands of images back to Earth, shedding light on many of the great mysteries of astronomy.

But of all the images that have been produced by the instruments on board the telescope, only a small proportion of them are visually attractive, and an even smaller number are ever actually seen by anyone outside the small groups of scientists that publish them.

To rectify that matter, the folks at the European Space Agency (ESA) decided to hold a contest that would challenge members of the general public to take never-before-publicized images from Hubble's archives and to make them more visually captivating through the use of image processing techniques.

This month, after sifting through more than 1000 submissions, the ESA has decided on the winner of its so-called Hubble's Hidden Treasures competition -- a chap by the name of Josh Lake from the USA who submitted a stunning image of NGC 1763, part of the N11 star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud.

Lake produced a two-color image of the NGC 1763 which contrasted the light from glowing hydrogen and nitrogen. The image is not in natural colors because hydrogen and nitrogen produce almost indistinguishable shades of red light, but Lake processed the images to separate out the blue and red, dramatically highlighting the structure of the region.

Through the publicity gained from the exercise, the organizers of the competition have undoubtedly attracted numerous people to the Hubble web site to see the many other spectacular images produced by the other folk that entered the contest.

Here at Vision System Design, I’d like to emulate the success of the Hubble's Hidden Treasures competition by inviting systems integrators to email me any astonishing images that they may have taken of their very own vision systems in action.

My "Vision Systems in Action" competition may not come with any prizes, but I can promise that the best images that we receive will be published in an upcoming blog, providing the winners with lots of publicity and, potentially, a few sales leads as well.

If you do decide to enter, of course, please do take the time to accompany any image you submit with a brief description of the vision system and what it is that it is inspecting. Otherwise, you will be immediately disqualified!

The "Vision Systems in Action" competition will close on September 15, 2012. You can email your entries to me at

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