lundi 24 décembre 2012

Green Mars globe 01

Here is an original Christmas present !
This is my very first try to make a realistic looking terraformed Mars globe. We see the planet here in advanced Green stage.

All work done on Gimp, with a globe of Earth mixed with a globe of Mars. Click here to enjoy it in full HD on my DeviantArt page.
Comments are welcome !

dimanche 23 décembre 2012

Red Mars Anniversary Timeline

2012 is the year of the 20th anniversary of the legendary SF novel RED MARS which started the Mars Trilogy of Kim Stanley Robinson. And this is also the year of release for 2312, the new space epic by KSR which takes us beyond the scale of the Mars Trilogy, in the future of our solar system. and DaVinci-MarsDesign wish to commonly celebrate this event with this new infographic timeline I just made.
The layout is made on Inkscape and the 3 photomanipulations (2027, 2061 and 2127) were made on Gimp.
To enjoy the infographic in full scale, I recommend my DeviantArt page here.
And please visit for further exploration on these novels.

jeudi 6 décembre 2012

Mars Space Elevator Triptych Poster

Something like 5 hours on Inkscape in the middle of the night, and here is my poster for the space elevator as described in Red Mars !
The background is my photomanipulation triptych turned black and white and put a little darker.

Mars and the space elevator

Finally my space elevator triptych is completed, with this last sight caught between the two ends of the cable. On this point of view we are still very close to the surface and very very far to the mid-distance of the cable, still thousands kilometers away ! Anyway, enjoy the view and take a look at the full triptych.
I made this picture with GIMP on Linux-Ubuntu.

This new photo-manipulation is based on the huge photographic mosaic of the Nasa Viking 1 Orbiter shots by Daniel Machácek. This original picture looks to the east, on Argyre Planitia. For more information on this region, see here.
A special space elevator poster is coming very soon...

jeudi 13 septembre 2012

Clarke and the space elevator

I go on with the Space Elevator theme, with this new photomanipulation showing the "space end" of the cable. In Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson tells the setting of an asteroid in high martian orbit, as a necessary mass keeping the space elevator cable straight. This asteroid, Clarke, is named after science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, who described the space elevator concept in one of his novels. (learn more here) KSR imagines that the cable is made directly from Clarke, with the asteroid's material, mined and turned in carbon nanotubes, made in space !
This photomanipulation works with the previous one, that showed Sheffield, the town where the cable rises from the surface of Mars. KSR describes the cable as being 35.000 km long and 10m thick.
More than just a useful mass for the cable's balance, Clarke is a base in itself, a spaceport full of docks, living and working areas for the people involved in space travel, space cargos as well as a spacious station for travellers of all kinds. What we don't see in the picture are the spaceships waiting for passengers leaving Mars or bringing new ones to Mars.
For the manipulation, I've used elements from a photo of the ISS by NASA, and a shot of Saturn's moon Phoebe for the asteroid (photo). The entrance of the cable is a small part of a photo of Kuala Lumpur's skyscrapers by Paul Mannix (original photo).
I made this picture with GIMP on Linux-Ubuntu.

lundi 2 juillet 2012

Mars mosaic 01 - Red Green Blue Mars

This time, no photomanipulation, but  another kind of picture I've been thinking a lot : a mosaic of inspiring pictures, a kind of kaleidoscopic sight !
Then I've searched the web for hundreds of pictures that inspired me the world of the Mars trilogy as described in details by Kim Stanley Robinson. I then cropped them in square shape and built the mosaic.
My idea here is to express the world that is Mars in the book. It's a whole planet, with various landscapes, various cities evolving at the same time, various technologies at work, thousands of human beings living their life there, and the slow creation of a Martian culture. There is the idea of both space and time. This particular mosaic draws the shape of my Mars roundel, one I imagined for this blog years ago. It shows in 3 colors the 3 stages of Mars through its terraforming history : Red, Green, and Blue.

I may produce some more mosaics like that later.
I made this with the free software AndreaMosaic.

There are too many pictures used here to credit them all, and anyway I use them only partly and at a tiny scale, but I am ready to consider authors requests.

lundi 14 mai 2012

The scale of Phobos

This new picture is to be an exception here, as it is not located on Mars ! Since I've started being interested by Mars, I am fascinated by the scale of the planet and its features, and of course, there is Phobos, its largest moon (the other one being Deimos). What better way to give a scale than to compare with actual things on Earth ?
So, here is Phobos standing over my town Grenoble in the Alpes (eastern France). Phobos' dimensions are 26,8 x 18,4 km. If you carefully look at the center of the picture, you'll see 2 helicopters, still quite far from the "big rock".
Here too is a companion picture showing in satellite view how Grenoble and Phobos compare. We can see there that the entire town of Grenoble would easily fit inside Stickney crater, Phobos' largest crater (on the right).

I made this with TheGimp on Linux-Ubuntu. A 5 hours work.

In the Greek Mythology, the twins Phobos and Deimos ("fear" and "dread") were god sons of Ares ("Mars").

jeudi 10 mai 2012

Ascending Pavonis Mons up to Sheffield

Imagine yourself in the warmth of a comfortable rover, automatically ascending the endless flank of Pavonis Mons, one of Mars' giant volcanos. Outside, the temperature is below -120°C. Up there on the horizon, slowly appearing is the shining tent of Sheffield, the famous liftport of the space elevator. The elevator's cable stands straight and disappears among the stars. This all makes you feel you already are in orbit...
Sheffield is 3 kilometres away. You will be there in half an hour. The intense town's activity, busy with hundreds of passengers for the cable, will be a huge contrast to the lonely and silent ascent you just accomplished in the dark and red night. Altitude 14 km, where starts the space elevator that will take you right in space in a few hours.

As said on MangalaWiki, "because of its high altitude, Sheffield is condemned to remain a tented city."

This photo-montage is a lot inspired by a sequence in Red Mars : Ann Clayborne alone in her rover, making the very very long ascent of Olympus Mons and going so high that it feels like in space. This photo-montage here is a kind of transcription of this scene on Pavonis Mons.

(Made with TheGimp on Linux-Ubuntu)

Milky Way photo from ALMA by (European Southern Observatory) ESO/José Francisco Salgado.

mardi 8 mai 2012

2 Mars pressurized rovers

In 2008, I made 3D models of two Mars pressurized rovers, but roughly, for photo-montage use. Now, here they are both updated, detailed and fully presented on these fresh technical sheets. The "Manchu Explorer" takes its name and design from a renowned SF french illustrator. I did a post about his rover before and you can too visit Manchu's blog. The "Elson Eplorer", much larger, takes name and design from Peter Elson, a "dead too young" english illustrator who painted the beautiful first cover for Red Mars. Again, here is an older post about the painting. Take a look at Peter Elson's (post mortem) official site.
(3D model on Sketchup) (Layout on Inkscape)
I dedicate this post and this rovers' graphic work to Peter Elson who passed away at the age of 51 during the painting of an aquatic mural.

lundi 7 mai 2012

Mars architecture by Janek Kozicki

After a long series of personal creations these days, I'd like to make some space here today to the great work of Polish architect and civil engineer Janek Kozicki. Since 2004, he studies in high details how could be accomplished a Martian outpost with greenhouses for 8 inhabitants. He and his wife Joanna (architect and Mars-interested too) have published a couple of Mars papers in online journals. The studies are both technical and psychological. As example, their latest paper's title is "Human Friendly Architectural Design for a small Martian Base."
Janek Kozicki's website is a fantastic mine of informations, plans and pictures. Many pdf are available for further explorations of this vast research work. The architectural details are amazing, feeling like if the project is almost ready to build ! No surprise then that NASA, ESA, JAXA and the Mars Society have all shown interest in the project. Janek and Joanna's study evolves through the years and builds in realistic details. Here is a quick glimpse at the work, but don't miss the whole site and take a look at this fly-by video of the outpost.
(3D model made on Blender, open-source 3D suite.)

jeudi 3 mai 2012

Driving in the storm

Mars is a planetary desert. Living and exploring it will be a challenge in many ways, for both humans and vehicles. Here is a new photo-montage of a big pressurized rover riding dunes during a dust storm. Such vehicle -that would carry an entire crew of scientists- will have to be perfectly designed to face many kinds of terrains and keep humans from the deadly atmosphere, in particular from the very fine and tricky dust of Mars, one of the toughest issues for missions out there. Just as Kim Stanley Robinson describes in Red Mars, the planet sometimes gets covered by dust storms that can last several martian years. Then imagine how many drives like the one above settlers would have to do. In such conditions, geolocation help from satellites will be a question of survival. But well, maybe the choice would be to move as few as possible during those storms, even if it lasts years...
The rover is a 3D model made with Sketchup, and the photo-montage is made with TheGimp on Linux-Ubuntu.

lundi 30 avril 2012

DA VINCI : why this name ?

For those who haven't read the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson (KSR), I must explain "Da Vinci", the name of this blog.
In Red Mars (the first book), when humans settle on Mars by 2026, they build stations and then, entire cities. Among these places is "Da Vinci", working base for an ambitious community of scientists innovating in very different areas such as agriculture, terraforming, weaponry and medecine.
Of course, "Da Vinci" refers to Leonardo Da Vinci, scientist, engineer and extremely polyvalent artist of the Renaissance who studied and practiced painting, sculpture, architecture, anatomy, weather, astronomy, military engineering, religious art, philosophy... The Renaissance definitely inspired KSR to express the pioneer spirit that Mars settlers felt in front of the infinite potential of this new world.
In the books, Da Vinci is a planetary laboratory and also an efficient productive place. In the Mars trilogy, it will develop the longevity treatment (that doubles or triples life span), provide weapons for the first martian revolution (2061), humus for the green part of the terraforming effort, and thousands of oxygen masks for the refugees of Burroughs, the capital town flooded and destroyed during the second revolution (2127).
I then called my blog "Da Vinci" as a tribute to this conceptual and technical creativity that the human-settlement on Mars requires.

For more about the Da Vinci lab, visit the Da Vinci page of MangalaWiki, a rich database on the Mars trilogy (and other books by KSR), linked to the news site KimStanleyRobinson.Info.

I'll end with a word on the roundel here above. It's a creation of mine. A symbol of the 3 stages of Mars in terraforming : Red, Green, Blue (as the 3 books of the trilogy).

vendredi 27 avril 2012

Sheffield and the space elevator

Here is a new montage showing the base of the space elevator on the tented town called "Sheffield", built on the summit of Pavonis Mons volcano (see Red Mars). The cable is supposed to be 10m thick, which means here than Sheffield city is very big here, at a large level of development. On the foreground, you can see coloured urban lights. I imagine the main entry to the planet's surface would like to be a rich and welcoming show for new settlers. I also imagine the tent' skin would be blue, to balance the so red and grey landscape.

(Made with The Gimp on Linux-Ubuntu)

For details on the space elevator in KSR's Mars trilogy, read the space elevator page of MangalaWiki, the wiki of KSR-info

Down in Noctis Labyrinthus

Valles Marineris, the famous martian canyon, is among the biggest geographical features of the solar system : 4000 km long, 200 km wide and up to 7 km deep ! (Wikipedia)
To give an idea of the terrible scale of this place, I've made this new photo-montage showing a rover exploration of Noctis Labyrinthus, a region in the western edge of the canyon.
As an information, the rover you can see here is a 6 m tall vehicle. A man would be half of its wheels height.

(Made with The Gimp on Linux-Ubuntu)

jeudi 26 avril 2012

Cultivating bamboo on Mars 01

In Red Mars, Robinson imagines the importance for settlers of cultivating bamboo as a material for interior architecture. They have a greenhouse in the big Ares ship that takes them to Mars, and when they set on the planet, they go on growing bamboo for the constructive use.
So here is a vision I've had in mind for a long time : a vision from inside a bamboo greenhouse on Mars. The bamboo photo is a shot of an actual bamboo forest I do maintain near Grenoble (France). Here is a link to my bamboo blog.

The colors are pretty saturated, but well, this sight is just surreal !

(Made with The Gimp on Linux-Ubuntu) 

mardi 24 avril 2012

Olympus Mons from orbit

And now, Olympus Mons !
Here we have an orbital sight on the oversize volcano as a ship is entering the atmosphere down there.
Olympus Mons summit is 26 km above the surrounding plains, its caldera (crater) has a 60-80 km diameter and 3 km high cliffs. (Wikipedia)

This montage is based on a beautiful mosaic of 12 images from NASA's Viking orbiter 1 taken in 1980 and assembled by artist Daniel Macháček in 2011. You can see Daniel's series of high resolution mosaics here.

(Made with The Gimp on Linux-Ubuntu)

lundi 23 avril 2012

Tent on a canyon 01

I just completed this new montage, a quite challenging one actually ! It shows a tent on a canyon, where shelters a scientific station.

I choosed blue for the main buildings, because I think this color would be very sane for the Mars settlers, and also because it does contrast well with the red dust and then makes the structures more visible in the distance. The two big gates are airlocks large enough for rovers.

(Made with The Gimp on Linux-Ubuntu)

To have a vision of my best Mars pictures, get to the gallery !

vendredi 20 avril 2012

A mohole behind the horizon 01

In Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson describes some very industrial aspects of the terraforming. One of these is the moholes. They are over-size pits, 1km large and going around 15km down in the planet's crust ! It reaches geothermical depths that smoke out of the moholes and contributes to the warm up of the atmosphere needed for the terraforming. This smoke makes the moholes visible from very far.
I just made this montage to express such heavy human presence on the (still) red planet. I put on the ledge of the mohole a gigantic crane, and a tent that protects the town where live the many workers of the mohole.

(Made with The Gimp on Linux-Ubuntu)

To know more about moholes, visit the excellent mohole page of MangalaWiki, the wiki of KSR-info.

Descending Candor Chasma At Night 01

An almost invisible column of rovers is descending Candor Chasma in the night.
The original picture is a perspective version of Mars Express snapshots from 2006 (ESA link).
Though I have made the light spots as small as possible, they are still too large to be at scale because this "valley" is 40km large ! I will definitely explore more visions like that and will try to give a more realistic sense of the scale of such Mars location.

(Made with The Gimp on Linux-Ubuntu)

Mars view with condensation 01

Here is an evolution of an old montage of mine (link). The original picture of blue tents looked very computer-made but had a nice light, so I switched it behind some condensation and human presence, and we now forget the computer work...

(Made with The Gimp on Linux-Ubuntu)

Big tent 01

A quick manipulation of a Shanghai photo to have a big tent on Mars.

lundi 16 avril 2012

The space elevator cable fall - behind the horizon

And here is a second montage of the cable fall. A falsely peaceful vision.
By day this time, we behold the cable falling from the sky and flaming the clouds before crashing behind this horizon.

I made this montage with a photo of a fantastic sunset I've witnessed last year : this "burning" sky you see is not fake. I just had to put the cable on it !
(plus the starship, mountains and foreground elements of course !)

(Made with The Gimp on Linux-Ubuntu)

The space elevator cable fall - night aerial view

One of the most impressive event in KSR's Mars trilogy is definitely the fall of the space elevator's cable on Mars. The cable is so long it wraps twice around the planet's equator ! And when entering the atmosphere, if burns and finally crashes heavily on landscapes and human settlements. The cable is supposed to have a 10m diameter. Just imagine the mess...
So, here is a new photo montage I just made, showing an aerial point of view on the cable falling just near a tent and roads. I imagined what it would look like in the night, with the burning cable lighting the darkness like an apocalyptic devil tail. As you can see, it's just one second before it hits the ground.

(Made with The Gimp on Linux-Ubuntu)

I must say I've made this picture with John Harris' "electric" visions in mind. In many of his paintings, you can feel the atmosphere cracking just before the cataclysm. If you don't know yet his art, please take a look !

Spider robots mining Phobos

After a 2 years pause, I am finally coming back to photo montages of Mars !
And here is my first new one.
In his Mars novels, Kim Stanley Robinson tells how asteroids and moons are digged by spider robots, for mining and for setting space stations. Years before, I did a storyboard sketch of this scene, but here it is now in a highly detailed montage. Here, it's not an asteroid. This is Phobos, the largest Martian moon. For the robots, I've used photos of actual spiders.
(Made with The Gimp on Linux-Ubuntu)

jeudi 29 mars 2012

Prometheus : deep space cinema is back !

Around two years ago, I did a cinema post about Avatar as a visual revolution. Now early 2012, I just can't leave this space exploration blog without a word on one the most anticipated SF movies ever : Prometheus. This is nothing less than the return of Ridley Scott in the field of science fiction, with an adventure and experience that promises to be epic in scale and philosophically disturbing.
Prometheus tells the deep space expedition of a scientific spaceship to a planet where could await us unexpected answers on the origins of humanity.
The story has a connection to Alien (1979) but does explore a whole new universe around the concept of God and how worlds can be created. By the way, one of the scientific topics the movie will deal about is terraforming, which Kim Stanley Robinson is very familiar with. We can expect Prometheus to show us the darkest aspects of this God-like ability.
If not yet done, take a look at the aggressive teaser trailer of the film. And if you want to see more and don't care about spoilers, here is the full trailer.
But for something different, something special, for a smart glimpse at the future, visit the viral website of Alien/Prometheus' famous corporation Weyland :

Just a word about the picture above : we see the planet's surface from the dock bay of spaceship "Prometheus". As usual on DaVinci Mars Design, I show you an exploration rover! Just not sure this one is pressurized. Anyway, it has a nice 80's look that somehow takes us back to the good old designs from the times of Alien and Blade Runner where Prometheus takes its first roots.

How does this link us to Mars ? Well, Mars is not featured in Prometheus, but given the insane details of Ridley Scott's depiction of both human space technologies and alien environments, we will have the hell of an immersive travel in the depths of space in glorious sound and visuals, which is very rare in theatres. Though not Mars, this planet to be explored in the film might be a very interesting piece of alien ground, and for sure Mars fans will love the trip.

Prometheus premieres May 30th in France.

samedi 17 mars 2012

Mars500's virtual reality simulator

Mars500 experiment which took end on november 2011 was a simulation of 520 days alone for a crew of 6 men on a travel to Mars and back. The isolation reproduced most of the situations of inside the ship while the "outside scale" was recreated through a virtual reality software, with a view on the take off, the travel, the landing and works on Mars, and then the travel back home.
To know more about this virtual reality simulator made by NVidia and JCSI Group (Russia), check this page of NVidia, of see this Russian site with footage from the software.
And as usual on DaVinci, let's have a look at the visuals ! We here have a pressurized rover leaving its dock, a large digger, and 4 shots of the take off from Mars. I personally love the render of the orbital sequence, very immersive with its wide angle.
The top picture is a quick personal improvement of one of the shots. I've reached this night effect with TheGimp.

mercredi 14 mars 2012

IO9 : the weather on Mars

The excellent SF and science news blog IO9 has a very interesting article on the weather on Mars and what it would actually look like. The pictures (by artist Ron Miller) are really worth a look. Here is one, showing a coming dust storm, the kind able to cover the entire planet (except the very high volcanoes' summits). In Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson describes an amazing global storm that lasts 3 martian years, bringing darkness on most of the surface for around 6 earthly years...

Here is the IO9 article, dealing with much more than storms !

jeudi 9 février 2012

Through Opportunity's eyes on Mars, january 2012

Let's start 2012 with this picture taken by NASA's rover Opportunity, in its 8th year of service on Mars. Impressive how long this little robot is working ! Here the view is from Greeley Haven.
More informations here.

2012 is going to be an exciting Mars year, as NASA's next generation rover Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory) is scheduled to land on Mars at Gale Crater on August 6. This much larger rover will give a new dimension to the land exploration of Mars, moving faster than previous rovers and watching from a higher mast, not to mention the impressive laboratory tools it carries, plus top-quality cameras.
Visit Curiosity rover's official page for details.