Approaching Mars will be a wonderful thing to see, but that won’t necessarily be true for the view itself. So, you can either wait until the dust literally settles or you can go and check out NASA’s High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment right now.
Alfred McEwen, the planetary geologist and principal investigator on this experiment: “The best way to see the planet’s surface would be to take a digital image and enhance it on your computer”.
That’s exactly what NASA’s HiRISE camera has done for the past 12 years – snapping more than 50.000 images from the Martian Orbit in the best quality we could get.
The results have been combined to create so-called anaglyphs in 3D anyone can have a look at using special glasses.
To see the samples of Mars’ topography in full glory though, you’d need to combine them and add movement to it. Luckily, Finnish filmmaker Jan Fröjdman did it for us. He spent countless hours to transfer the remarkable images into a dynamic 3-dimensional video highlighting the Red Planet in a stunning manner anyone can see.
The effect was only possible by colorizing the otherwise grayish pictures and identifying important landmarks for each anaglyph. He then needed to render the images along specific reference points varying between a few hundred for flat regions and many thousands for complex ones. The whole process took three months to complete.
Fröjdmans work would have been easier according to McEwen, whose lab indeed uses a special modeling program matching reference points automatically. Nonetheless, the result is the sight to behold that brave astronauts deserve once they are finally approaching Mars themselves.