The faces behind JunoCam: Sean Doran
JunoCam is the visible light camera on the Juno spacecraft orbiting Jupiter. The instrument’s primary purpose is to engage the public in citizen science. In fact, many of the raw images returned are processed by citizens with a passion for space exploration. SpaceFlight Insider reached out to five of these individuals. The fifth in this series is Sean Doran, a a self-described creative working across traditional and digital media.
Doran lives in London. He first heard about JunoCam from the website unmannedspaceflight.com, a forum of space enthusiasts.
SFI: Were you interested in space prior to hearing about JunoCam?
Doran: “Yes, very much so. I still recall hearing Carl Sagan’s hypnotic tones on Cosmos as a child and that was the beginning for me.”
SFI: What interested you about JunoCam?
Doran: “I was vaguely aware of the earlier perijove data but the recent perijove six images took my breath away. I saw an opportunity to improve my skillset & share my enthusiasm.”
SFI: On average, how long does it take to process a JunoCam image?
Doran: “It depends on the image but the average would be around four hours.”
SFI: What software or equipment do you use to process your images?
Doran: “I use Photoshop for stills & Photoshop / After Effects / Premiere / Audition for video.”
SFI: Do you have prior experience processing images? What about specifically scientific images?
Doran: “I started image processing when I got my first computer in 1981 with 1k of ram! I started processing MSL Curiosity Navcam & Pancam mosaics last year. I am self taught.”
SFI: Do you see your images more as art, science, or a combination of the two?
Doran: “This old chestnut! Its a trinity… art / science / art+science. Leaning toward art. I don’t have the right smarts to be a scientist although it does inform everything I do.”
SFI: Do you have goals and/or hopes for the images that you produce, and if so, what are they?
Doran: “Only that they communicate what my response to them is. If I can make someone say ‘Wow’ then…Cool!”
SFI: What has the response been to your JunoCam images? Was that the response that you anticipated? What have you learned about the importance of public outreach in the process of processing JunoCam images?
Doran: “A little overwhelming to be honest. I shared my perijove 06 images over at UMSF not knowing there was a press conference announcing science results a day or two hence. So the timing was fortunate in that respect. It was unfortunate in that I consider those early processing attempts literally lackluster. I have learned a lot in 10 days! Also, it’s not really my work as so many people are responsible for putting those pixels in place before I even do what I do. [This was] not at all [expected]. I don’t think anyone is prepared for a social media onslaught, either positive or negative. I’m lucky in that everyone was universally positive in their response (except for that one guy who likened my image to a sheep’s butt) but I am highly aware of my own limitations. I think the standard has been set by the Mission Juno outreach. It is an excellent site with laudable goals. Crowdsourcing the exploration of the Solar System? Sign me up!”
SFI: What do you love/enjoy about space?
Doran: “I don’t think of space as ‘out there’…we are in it. Having a front seat as nature reveals itself to our scrutiny is exciting & inspiring.”
SFI: What inspires you?
Doran: “Something to do with understanding our place in the cosmic scheme of things.”
SFI: If there was one thing that you could say to someone who looks at your images what would that be?
Doran: “I wouldn’t say anything. I’d just wink.”
Those interested can find more of Doran’s work on his Flickr account and on Twitter. Be sure to read about the previous people profiled in SpaceFlight Insider’s “The faces behind JunoCam” series: Justin Cowart, Kevin Gill, Sophia Nasr and Jason Major.
Video courtesy of Sean Doran
Correction: The story was updated to clarify that JunoCam is the sole visible light camera on Juno. There are a total of nine cameras including two star cameras for navigation, four stellar compasses to aid in locating the spacecraft’s magnetic field sensors in inertial space, as well as infrared and ultraviolet imagers.
A native of the Greater Los Angeles area, Ocean McIntyre's writing is focused primarily on science (STEM and STEAM) education and public outreach. McIntyre is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador as well as holding memberships with The Planetary Society, Los Angeles Astronomical Society, and is a founding member of SafePlaceForSpace.org. McIntyre is currently studying astrophysics and planetary science with additional interests in astrobiology, cosmology and directed energy propulsion technology. With SpaceFlight Insider seeking to expand the amount of science articles it produces, McIntyre was a welcomed addition to our growing team.