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)