YouTube’s ElderFox Documentaries has converted thousands of NASA pictures into ultra-HD images for a ‘world first’ view of the Red Planet. The team describe their documentary as “the most lifelike experience of being on Mars” and since being uploaded last week it has garnered more than 2.3 million views.
They put the images together into a ten-minute video that takes the viewer on a journey through the eyes of the NASA Spirit, Curiosity and Opportunity rovers.
In order to create a video like this several images must be stitched together to create a mosaic or panorama
The video opens with a narrator saying “the images in this video are all real”, requesting viewers to ‘sit back, relax and enjoy this journey across another world’.
There is no ‘live footage’ of the Red Planet from the NASA rovers.
But the team stitched thousands of images together to create panoramas they panned across to create an effect similar to that of a live video.
YouTube’s ElderFox Documentaries have converted thousands of NASA pictures into ultra-HD
Mars in 4K: The team describe their documentary as “the most lifelike experience of being on Mars”
All of the images are publicly available and shared by US-based space agency NASA, including a 1.8 billion pixel mosaic of the Martian surface.
This was taken from the Glen Torridon area, consisting of more than 1,000 images from Curiosity taken last year.
Mosaics are considered a good way for NASA to increase the available quality of the images beamed-back to Earth by their rovers.
Among the panoramic images and ‘sweeping views’ featured in the video are scenes of the Meridiani Planum showing tracks made by Opportunity.
Mars in 4K: The team stitched thousands of images together to create panoramas
There are also views of the desert like Cape Verde, Santa Maria Crater, the John Klein drill site for the Curiosity rover and Glen Torridon that has ‘large amounts of clay’.
The narrator said: “In order to create a video like this several images must be stitched together to create a mosaic or panorama.”
Some of the images include ‘black areas’ where there is no available data or image for that section – but the team tried to exclude those parts to create a ‘life like view’.
The cameras were ‘top of the range’ on the rovers when they were first launched – 2003 for Spirit and Opportunity and 2011 for Curiosity.
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However, unless the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is passing when the rovers send the pictures back to Earth – the speed is pretty slow.
The narrator on the video shared by ElderFox: “Curiosity can only send data directly back to earth at 32 kilo-bits per second.
“When the rover can connect to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, we get more favourable speeds of 2 Megabytes per second.”.
As Mars is a pretty static planet with very little movement among the rocks and soil, NASA found it made more sense to send pictures rather than video.
Mars in 4K: All of the images are publicly available and shared by US-based space agency NASA
The images used in the ultra-HD video come from both the Spirit and Opportunity rovers captured Mars from 2004 and Curiosity which has been operating on the Red Planet since 2012 an is the only one still working.
NASA’s next Mars rover – Perseverance – is due to launch later this month and arrive on the Red Planet in February 2021.
That rover will include 23 different cameras – mainly for navigation, engineering and science purposes – but will be able to share stunning views in higher resolution.
Perseverance will also include a live video camera that will send ‘first-person’ footage back of the craft as it descends on to the surface of the Red Planet.