A conspiracy theorist noticed that an image in NASA's Astronomy Picture Of The Day had noticeable Photoshop brushstrokes in it, when you turned up the contrast. Is there a mysterious object hiding near Saturn's moons?
Check out the official image of Dione and Titan, above. A YouTube user named DominatorPS3 turned up the contrast on the image, and discovered brush strokes. You can just about see a "rainbow aura" around the object that's been blacked out.
As quoted by Fox News, DominatorPS3 said: "More solid proof of NASA/ government cover-ups. And this is recent. You can do this yourself!!"
Dominator PS3's tell-all YouTube video has been taken down, allegedly because he received death threats. But he's put up a follow-up video, which you can watch here.
NASA's Emily Lakdawalla, who was responsible for the photoshopping, explained it over at Planetary.org:
Cassini takes colour pictures by snapping three sequential photos through red, green, and blue filters. In the time that separated the three frames, Dione moved, so if I did a simple colour composite I would be able to make Titan look right, but not Dione; or Dione look right, but not Titan. So I aligned Dione, cut it out, and then aligned Titan, and then had to account for the missing bits of shadow where the bits of Dione had been in two of the three channels.
She explains the process further here, showing how some other images of Saturn and its moons have been photoshopped — but she didn't post any raw images of the Dione/Titan image that caused the controversy. So at least some conspiracy theorists were not appeased, demanding to see the raw images. Update: She did actually include a link to the raw image feed, where you can grab it.
What do you think? Did NASA really try to hide evidence of extraterrestrial life by photoshopping a picture — and then making that picture is Astronomy Picture Of The Day, just to confuse us further? It's so crazy, it might just be true! [Fox News]