It’s hard to make Mars feel real. We know that it’s a real planet of course, but without stepping onto the surface yourself, even real pictures taken by our rovers feel surreal. Finding a connection to life on Earth can do the trick.
In the middle of last month, NASA’s Curiosity rover turned its powerful Mastcam-100 camera towards Gale Crater on sol 956 (April 15, 2015) and snapped these haunting photos of a Martian sunset. Somehow, knowing that Mars has sunsets too makes it feel more like a real place:
The photos were obtained and processed by Damia Bouic, a “space imaging enthusiast” and designer. As she explains in a post reproduced by The Planetary Society, the raw images of the sunset came back in black and white, and needed a bit of massaging before they looked right.
“I had to process them through GIMP with GMIC in order to rebuild the colors,” Bouic explained. “A little processing in Pixelmator to remove these ugly white stripes due to overloaded pixels; a little bit of denoising to remove artifacts of the Bayer matrix, and voila!”
Bouic also processed some close-up images of Sol’s setting from the Mastcam-100:
Finally, Bouic made a comparison photo showing the colors of the Martian sky at its midday and at sunset:
I’d take this over a Tatooinian sunset any day.
IMAGE: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS / Damia Bouic