The Story Behind: A Perfect Landscape from Mars

Photograph/ Curiosity Mars rover

Photograph/ Curiosity Mars rover

This article was originally published in May 2015.

One could hardly ever imagine that a seemingly bare planet, cloaked in red dust could ever have something truly serene, or even earth–like about it. On 15 April 2015, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover took some time off to observe the sunset, and the images it sent back were stunning. From its location inside the Gale Crater, the rover captured remarkable images of a beautiful blue sunset on Mars. The sun, in the pictures, is a blazing dot, setting over ink black hills, against grey–blue skies. Curiosity transmitted the pictures back to Earth in black and white using a Bayer matrix, which helped to recreate the original colours of the image.

The faint blue tinge of the sky can be credited to the fine dust particles in the red planet’s atmosphere, which allows blue light to penetrate through it more effectively than colours of longer wavelength. The images were captured using the rover’s Mast Camera. It was designed to study the Martian landscape, and is said to be less sensitive to blue shades in comparison to the human eye. It also views weather phenomena, and supports the driving and sampling operations of Curiosity. The camera is operated by the Malin Space Science System, in San Diego, United States. According to NASA, this is the first time that Curiosity has captured the sunset in colour. These photographs have come nearly five years after images of the sunset on the Martian planet were captured by the Opportunity rover.

Tags: landscape, sunset, curiosity, The Story Behind the Picture, Mars, 2015, Martian, Opportunity, Mast Camera, Bayer matrix