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Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Real-time sunset on Mars

Posted By Emily Lakdawalla

24-05-2015 13:21 CDT

Topics: pretty pictures, amateur image processing, the Sun, Mars, Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory), animation

Pause your life for six minutes and watch the Sun set....on Mars. Thank you, Glen Nagle, for this awe-inspiring simulation based on Curiosity's sol 956 sunset images.

On its 956th sol (day) on Mars, the rover Curiosity used its Mastcam to image a stunning sequence of the Sun (Sol) setting over the local horizon at Gale Crater, where it has been exploring since August 2012. The individual images taken by Curiosity covered a period of about 6 minutes. The sequence of images was too intermittent to make smooth movie of the sunset on its own. Using the foreground and horizon from one image and then recreating the sky and Sun in Photoshop, Glen Nagle used Adobe Premier to create a near real-time sunset sequence as if you could stand on Mars and see it for yourself. With the addition of a little 'lens flare' and the haunting music 'Lux Aeterna' by György Ligeti, this imagining of a sunset on Mars evokes a sense of awe and reverence.

NASA / JPL / MSSS / Glen Nagle

See other posts from May 2015


Read more blog entries about: pretty pictures, amateur image processing, the Sun, Mars, Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory), animation


Dustin: 05/25/2015 01:36 CDT

Awesome. I only wished this animation continued into the martian evening! I know martian rovers have done astronomical observations before (Phobos, Deimos, Siding Spring...etc.), but why don't we have broad, night sky views from Mars? One would think that a thin atmosphere and absence of light pollution would make for a fantastic night sky, or would Martian dust/twilight spoil the view? I'm sure some scientific justifications could be divined for a night sky panorama :)

sepiae: 05/25/2015 09:42 CDT

This literally brought tears to my eyes.... You've created a pause in a continuous flow of multi-tasking, just sitting there and watching... Wonderful, thank you !

Brian: 05/25/2015 03:53 CDT

I'm wondering about the continued light in the sky as the sun sets and after. It's my understanding that there isn't enough of an atmosphere on Mars to support the sort of light scattering Civil Twilight we have here on Earth. Shouldn't the sky darken rather quickly to full black?

Emily: 05/27/2015 10:47 CDT

Dustin: The rovers' cameras are not particularly sensitive to the light levels of nighttime images; they have all done nighttime imaging, and you can make out brighter stars like the Pleiades, but there is a lot of noise in the images so they're not as beautiful as people might want. Brian: The atmosphere may be thin but it contains a lot of very fine dust lofted quite high into the atmosphere which is very effective at scattering light, so twilight lasts a fairly long time on Mars.

tpsldf: 05/29/2015 12:29 CDT

I think you mentioned it before (but I forgot where) - why is the sky blue?

Cyrus: 06/07/2015 07:15 CDT

This might have been answered before and I think I know the answer for the older robot explorers, but why don't we get real videos from the Curiosity rover and its modern-day contemporaries? Surely there is enough Geegook upload power in their memorybanks.

perkypc: 06/08/2015 10:29 CDT

Beautiful, what a great way to end the day.

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