In the late 1970s and early 1980s, NASA's Voyager mission offered the first clear pictures of Jupiter and Saturn. These images show the planets in strikingly brilliant, recognizably engineered, psychedelic colors: technology's palette. The use of color was justified on epistemological grounds; it made visible scientifically compelling features. But color palette also has a history, one that has not been previously considered. This article takes up this history and adds to the literature on the visual culture of science. It establishes that the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's pioneering role in digital image processing, the color conventions adopted for representing Earth, and American counterculture of the 1960s and its attitudes toward technology together created the conditions that allowed for hyperchromatic views of the planets. Technology's palette enhanced the scientific understanding of Jupiter and Saturn, while simultaneously celebrating technologically enhanced vision and the promise of seeing by means of humanmachine collaborations.


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pp. 1087-1118
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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