“To set foot on the soil of the asteroids, to lift by hand a rock from the moon, to observe Mars from a distance of several tens of kilometres, to land on its satellite or even on its surface, what can be more fantastic?” Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky, 1896
In 1896 the Soviet rocket scientist and pioneer of the astronautic theory, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, imagined what it would be like to view ‘Mars from a distance of several tens of kilometres’. As of 2012 man is yet to set foot on the red planet, but a new short film commissioned by ACMI and developed by Swinburne’s Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, allows visitors the next best thing: to experience the surface of Mars recreated in 3D, closer and in a way never before seen.
On Mars 3D takes you on a journey across the surface of the red planet with two Mars rovers, Spirit (on Mars since 1997) and Curiosity (scheduled to land in August 2012). Both robots are searching for clues as to the existence, or not, of water on Mars and whether the planet’s environment can support microbial life. Their work serves as a precursor to a human mission, for which NASA has begun preparations.
The film is a visualisation of Mars based on data recorded by the Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. With terrain resolutions up to 25cm per pixel, On Mars 3D is the most accurate stereographic reconstruction of the Martian terrain ever seen – an extraordinary vision of our neighbouring planet that is on display until Sunday 29 January 2011, as part of the Star Voyager exhibition.
Like to know more? Learn about the making of this exciting new work with the producer and lead animator at Swinburne Astronomy Productions in On Mars 3D: An interview with Russell Scott and Sam Morefield .