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.