Mars as art

Starting as far back as 1965 with the historic Mariner 4 spacecraft, NASA has been taking and archiving black and white as well as color photographs of the Red Planet. Now comes an exciting Internet photography exhibit of NASAs images of the Red Planet. The exhibit captures the alien ochre beauty of varied martian hardscapes. Its titled Mars as Art. This unique online gallery collection has been selected by several international artists for its artistic rather than scientific value. Most of the selected images range from the vivid to the abstract, but all are real images of Mars taken from the automated cameras of orbiting spacecraft as well as Mars surface surface scenes from the Viking landers and including the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. All the electronic images on display at the Mars as Art web site have been processed from camera-raw data; its just like your family photos that have been manipulated using home photo software. Even by removing your Aunt Marys red eye in a home photo on your home P.C., youve altered an original photo and participated in a form of image processing. What you see in a processed image isnt exactly what you see in person, but its pretty darn close. First, NASA asked agency and non-agency scientists to select 5,000 images. Next, 45 images were selected from the 5,000 by a panel of professional artists, photographers, and photo editors. One of the artists involved in the Mars as Art project was Rick Sternback; he is best known for both his realistic astronomical art and fanciful science fiction illustrations including the spaceships and planet scenes from various Star Trek films. Sternback said he believes artists should be among the first humans to visit Mars. For (a) Mars community to become a true representative of civilization, its citizens, by the very nature of their positions and like the systems of the spacecraft that brought them, will be required to work together, solve problems, and survive. Mars will not be opened to habitation as quickly as land rushes attempted to open the western United States; that haste cost human lives, he is quoted on the Planetary Societys web site. But just like Americas best known frontier artist and photographer, Frederick Remington and Edward S. Curtis, creative people wont be far behind martian trailblazers. According to Sternback, his original inspirations came from Walt Disneys groundbreaking "Man in Space" documentaries of the 1950s (now available on DVD) as well as from the stunning planetary paintings made by the late Mel Hunter of Ferrisburgh, Vt., among others. To view the Mars as Art exhibit, visit NASAs URL (Uniform Resource Locator) address at: http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/Mars_as_art/ . Whats in the Sky: On Dec. 2, look for the planet Saturn and the star Regulus near the Moon early in the morning sky. Saturn is the bright golden object. Regulus, about half as bright, is nearby

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