Like Google Earth, For Mars

Another incredible video of our solar neighbors has been generated through a labor of love.

To fully appreciate the Martian landscape, one needs dimension and movement. In the video you see here, Finnish filmmaker Jan Fröjdman transformed HiRISE imagery into a dynamic, three-dimensional, overhead view of the Red Planet—no glasses required.
For Fröjdman, creating the flyover effect was like assembling a puzzle. He began by colorizing the photographs (HiRISE captures images in grayscale). He then identified distinctive features in each of the anaglyphs—craters, canyons, mountains–and matched them between image pairs. To create the panning 3-D effect, he stitched the images together along his reference points and rendered them as frames in a video. “It was a very slow process,” he says.

After completing the project, he learned there was an easier way.

It turns out there is software that does this work. “He did it the hard way,” says McEwen, whose lab uses special terrain-modeling programs to match reference points on stereo images automatically. Not that that detracts from Fröjdman’s homespun version. If anything, it makes his labor of love all the more endearing. “There are so many great scenes on Mars,” he says. “The more work I do, the more I learn that this planet is amazing.”