And now for something completely different . . . Mars.

As long as I’ve loved photography, I’ve loved astronomy.  Right now some of the best astrophotography is being taken right on Mars itself by the Curiosity Rover. Not only that, hi-res images are actually available for you to download and play with!

I “Like” NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover page on Facebook and saw the image below… a panorama of Mount Sharp.

Well the first thing I thought was, I wonder how much more could be done with Photoshop.  So I corrected for color and played around with detail so that instead of looking like a mountain on Mars, it looked more like a mountain on Earth.

Why would I want to do that?  Well, because my brain at least is more familiar with what stuff is when it looks like it’s on Earth. To make this photo look that way, I did a color and brightness balance to make it appear more like what we would expect in Earth’s atmosphere rather than Mars’.

You can download the original image from NASA at: http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16769

Here is a 1,500 pixel version of the original.

Mount Sharp as it looks on Mars.

 

Mount Sharp on Mars as it might look on Earth.

 

And here (below) is a 100% crop of some of the detail.  Notice near the bottom in the darker band what look like ripples you might see around dunes or on the sand bars of a creek or river.

100% Crop showing detail of Mount Sharp on Mars. Notice the ripples in the black band near bottom of image.

 

Anyone who uses Photoshop would consider the image above to be a little over-sharpened.  You can see it’s a little “crunchy”, but I did that for a reason.  This isn’t a person’s face, rather it’s a window into a planet’s geology.  By over-sharpening a bit, more of the texture of the geology is revealed. You can see patterns and layers that appear to me to be sedimentary.

The image below show’s what I’m talking about.  The image above and below the white line are the same except that the top part has been enhanced to reveal more detail.

This image shows how over-sharpening can reveal more geologic data.

After years of struggling with polar alignment and tracking issues with my old 8″ Newtonian telescope, it’s nice to know that all you have to do these days is head over to http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/ and you can have the best astrophotography money can buy right at your finger tips!

 

 

 

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