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Fly over Mars with this incredible video created from NASA stills

Why it matters to you

Humans won't be setting foot on Mars in the immediate future -- but you can still get a glimpse of how an artist might view the planet with this incredible project based on actual NASA images.

Photographer Jan Frojdman is familiar with devising creative ways to overcome obstacles — he once built a hot air balloon out of brown package paper to get an aerial view in his youth.  So when he set out on his latest project, he wasn’t about to let travel hurdles get in the way of his vision of a new type of aerial view — on Mars. The audiovisiual artist instead took thousands of images from NASA’s HiRISE camera to stitch together a video of what it would likely look like to fly over Mars.

The images from HiRISE are publicly available from NASA, JPL, and the University of Arizona. The images of the Martian topography allowed  Frojdman to create a 3D digital replica of the planet’s surface using the anaglyph process of superimposing multiple images to create a 3D effect. Frojdman had to manually set 33,000 reference points to create the anaglyphs. Stitching together multiple anaglyphs into panoramas allowed him to create realistic flyover effects.

The topographical images are, however, in grayscale, so first Frojdman color graded the images. While the photographer used NASA research to simulate colors in the image, he says the video is a fictional work based on real images, designed for art not science.

The video took about three months to create between sorting through photos to pick the most interesting locations, creating the anaglyphs, stitching the 3D images together, and then creating the flyover effect.

“I would love to see images taken by a landscape photographer on Mars, especially from the polar regions. But I’m afraid I won’t see those kinds of images during my lifetime,” Fröjdman wrote on his website.

Fröjdman has used similar techniques to enhance video he shot from a regular airplane, using a similar 3D-mapping technique to add flyover effects different than the flight path of the actual airplane. For more details on Frojdman’s work, visit his website or Vimeo page.