Standing on Mars

The entire universe in blog form
Oct. 17 2012 7:00 AM

Standing on Mars

What would it look like to stand on Mars? Probably like this:

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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[I had to shrink this image considerably to fit the width of my blog; click to properly enaresenate.]

Space enthusiast Denny Bauer created this spectacular panorama of the Martian landscape using images from the Curiosity rover; he arduously stitched raw images together in Photoshop. The original shots were taken on Sol 64 (October 10, 2012; a "sol" is one Mars day and is slightly longer than an Earth day) using Curiosity's MASTCAM.

The view is wonderful: you can see small rocks in the foreground, all kinds of geology as you let your eye move upwards, and then finally the horizon and the central mountains of Gale Crater, Curiosity's home, looming in the distance. It almost looks like a dusty summer day in northern California... except it's the cold, distant, almost airless yet still dust-stormy surface of another planet.

Not only that, but Denny made an even bigger, high-resolution image made of 65 subimages which I have no hope of showing you here. You can take a look at it at that link, or you can go to the 100+ megapixel pan-and-scan version where you can surf around the surface of Mars. It's tremendous.

Looking at this image I was thinking of what it would be like to stand there - properly outfitted in an insulated pressure suit, of course. And then I saw this 3D anaglyph picture Denny put together and really felt like I was standing on the Red Planet:

If you have red/cyan glasses, click that to get a bigger view and soak it in. He did a fantastic job of matching up the images (from Sol 60 using NAVCAM shots), and there's no trace of the usual color edges you see in such images. It really is like you're standing there!

Image credit: Denny Bauer, used with permission.



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