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Photoshop Plug-in 'Liberates' Astronomical Images

(August 2004) posted on Tue Aug 10, 2004

Provides creatives with full access to FITS files

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Designers and other creatives can now work with archival astronomical images and spectra direct from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and similar sources. Imaging scientists at NASA, the European Space Agency, and the European Southern Observatory have developed the Photoshop FITS Liberator plug-in, which allows Photoshop users access to the full 16-bit range of information in professionally captured astronomical images in FITS (flexible image transport system) format. Previously, this file format had typically been accessible only to astronomers and other scientists.

"FITS is much more than just an image format," says Lars Holm Nielsen, the project's leader. "It is an extremely flexible file format that allows astronomers to share images and spectra in many different ways. This very versatility has made the job of producing a plug-in for Photoshop challenging. Compared to formats like JPEG, FITS files can be incredibly diverse."

The Photoshop FITS Liberator is a free download. It works on Windows PCs and Macs (OS X 10.2+), and is optimized for Photoshop CS (it also works in Photoshop 7.0, but provides only 15-bit support). (Photoshop FITS Liberator: