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Colorizing the Red Planet

It’s a beautiful and typical Mars landscape. We’ve seen such scenes before; we’ve almost gotten used to pictures of a desolate desert with small rocks evenly spread out, and of course some parts of a spacecraft visible in the corner….
January 22, 2004

It’s a beautiful and typical Mars landscape. We’ve seen such scenes before; we’ve almost gotten used to pictures of a desolate desert with small rocks evenly spread out, and of course some parts of a spacecraft visible in the corner. But wait–there is something strange here. Look at the NASA logo, painted on the spacecraft, in this picture. The familiar blue emblem shows up as reddish brown–raising the question of whether we can believe any of the colors we see in these photos.

Scientists at NASA are said to be working on adjusting the colors. Meanwhile we turn to the Europeans, who have their own Mars expedition in progress. The European Space Agency (ESA) has released the first high-resolution pictures of the planet taken from Mars Express, a joint European satellite orbiting Mars. The Europeans used to have a lander too, but it has not been heard from since it crashed or landed around Christmas. Now the folks at ESA are comforting themselves with spectacular satellite imaging of the planet. These images from Mars Express, with a resolution of 12 meters per pixel, are the best ever from a Mars-orbiting satellite.

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