(CBS) - They're images that inspire, educate and sometimes just make us say "wow."
Over the years, NASA has given us spectacular photos and renderings that reveal a colorful and mysterious universe.
In a small, bright office, working side-by-side, Robert Hurt and Tim Pyle bring the universe to life.
"What we're doing does have real science underlying it," Hurt said.
He is an astrophysicist turned artist. Tim Pyle, once a Hollywood animator, is now a planet illustrator.
Together they produce some of NASA's most popular images.
From renderings of how planets light years away could look to actual photos of stars and galaxies captured by NASA's powerful telescopes.
Many of the images have a dark, grainy start but color and light reveal an astonishing glimpse of how the deepest regions of space might appear to the human eye.
"What I'm trying to do is show people sort of the broader colors that the universe has to offer," Hurt said.
It's a delicate blend of imagination and data.
The artists meet with NASA scientists over many drafts to ensure a planet or galaxy's look lines up with the research to make each one as accurate as possible.
"I love the challenge, it's kind of like a puzzle to me of trying to create something that's really cool within the restrictions that were given by the scientists," Pyle said.
It can take days, even weeks, to produce just a single image.
The dazzling final results, enough to keep us all dreaming of the final frontier, for years to come.
The artists say they have to be especially careful when it comes to illustrations of other planets to avoid colors many of us would associate with Earth properties, such as blue for water.