portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts united states


Nasa accused of painting Mars red

The American space agency Nasa has been accused of doctoring its pictures of Mars to make the Martian surface conform to our impression of the famously red planet.
Nasa has been accused of digitally "tweaking" drab brown scenery to make it redder. It has even been suggested that Nasa removed green patches to hide evidence of life.

The theories gained credence after Nasa told New Scientist that "getting the colours right is a surprisingly difficult and subjective job", the magazine reports today.

Most of the pictures have been taken through green, blue and infra-red filters - instead of green, blue and standard red filters, which would have produced more accurate colours.

Dr Jim Bell, who worked with Nasa on the Mars rovers' cameras, said infrared filters were used because they helped geologists to distinguish rock types.

In reality, Mars appears red largely because of the dust in its atmosphere.

If you go to thier website 30.Jan.2004 21:16


You'll see that the vast majority of the images they have available for viewing are in black & white. Infact, you'll have a tough time finding color images.


other heavenly bodies also were "enhanced" 30.Jan.2004 21:38

a jovian fan

Many of the pictures of Jupiter with colorful bands were added after the photo was shot..
The rings of Saturn are real but a close-up shot reveals that it consists of numerous particles that are in orbit around the planet.
The large planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus & Neptune are gas spheres so any vehicle would have difficulty "landing" on them.

A few fun facts about light and life in the solar system 31.Jan.2004 15:11


A few things to consider is that the sensors used by many craft sent to Mars don't take pictures at the same part of the EM spectrum at which are eyes are atuned to seeing. Thus all pictures are doctored in the sense that they are not exactly the way we'd see Mars if we were there.

The Jovian ring exists, but it is doctored in photographs to make it much more brighter than it really is. If we were on Voyager - it would be too thin and faint to see with the naked human eye. Furthermore, the large outer planets are all pictured much brighter than they really are - this is due to distance from the sun. Illuminosity of the Sun is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the Sun. Thus the light quality on Jupiter and Saturn is10 to 20 times dimmer than at Earth, equivalent to a very heavily overcast day on Earth. At Neptune and Pluto the light quality is equivalent to slightly brighter that of a moonless night on Earth (on day and night side of those planets).

The Martian atmosphere is composed of nitrogen and carbon dioxide and other trace elements. Mean Martian surface temperature is below zero, the warmest temperatures could hypothetically reach a comfortable 65 degrees fahrenheit. The coldest would be well below that of the Antarctic winter (~ -150 F). Given the temps and atmosphere, light is scattered the same way as on Earth, thus giving a blue sky - except windblown dust tinges the sky a pink or salmon color.

The surface is reddish brown indicating enormous amounts of oxygen on Mars, but its chemically combined with the rocks and soil in various oxides - most lifeforms (which we are familiar with) aren't big fans of living on rust.

Mars lacks an ozone layer as well as strong as a magnetic field as Earth does. Therefore Mars is directly bombarded by the dangerous solar radiation which our magnetic fields and ozone layer screens Earth from. Without ozone and strong magnetic fields - organic molecules are simply to overwhelmed by the radiation to try and evolve into anything reflecting life on Earth (like replicating DNA/RNA helixes). Life could potentially exist in the subsoils of Mars as well as under the icy surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. We hardly have a clue on what Titan's surface looks like (Saturn's largest moon)

The bands on Jupiter are false color in pictures, but they do denote actual existing bands of atmospheric circulation on Jupiter. The great red spot is actually a hurricane-like storm larger than the Earth and winds on Jupiter and the other gas giant planets may well exceed a 1000 kilometers per hour.

Our moon is a big dead rock with no atmosphere. In the far future it may be a good place to move the heavy industry of Earth to so that Earth's damaged ecosystems can in time regenerate. Martian icecaps likely hold tons of frozen fresh water, the moon as well as Mercury may hold small icecaps as well. Water ice is a large ingredient in the composition of many of the moons of the outer planets. Rocks, minerals, and hydrocarbons (similar to fossil fuels) exist in abundance beyond Earth as well, it has been calculated the the asteroid belt may hold enough mineral wealth to make 6 billion people each billionaires to the tone of 200 billion dollars apiece. Mining there would be useful for several reaons: 1) no longer mining Earth, 2) mining the same material which can threaten Earth every so often, and 3) would alleviate some resource problems.

That said, Bush's space iniative is way too premature considering he helped to really fuck over Earth for the last 3 years, but in time a complete exploration and settling of the solar system would dramatically lighten the load on Earth's biosphere.

I'd go on, but my fingers are tired.

We're not going to Mars 01.Feb.2004 00:25

madman mcmoony

never mind the economic factors involved, the human body really can't hack it very well in space. ask an astronaut. ask 'em why they've never showed us the triumphant pictures of these guys after they return from the celestial realms. we get to see them suiting up and climbing on board their rocketships, but after they come back? ZIP. why? because their bodies are so Fucked from being up there (weakened bones, atrophied muscles, etc.) that they require weeks of physical therapy to recover. not very good prospects for long-term settlements up there, sorry. It is a nice escapist fantasy that we could leave this toxified planet of ours, but it is only a fantasy. the problems humankind has created here are ours to solve, ours and our descendents.

W's handlers were just trying to make him sound like JFK when he announced plans for a manned mission to the moon. And since the polls have shown that nobody is excited about this little plan (or even gives a shit anything that lying fucker says) he has dropped the subject altogether. don't expect to hear any more about it....

once bitten twice inflamed 01.Feb.2004 16:14


The accusation of NASA making Mars redder than it is may be more accurate for the Viking era mission than the latest ones. There are reports from back then of people screwing up the color on the mission control monitors and threating forced physical eviction of anyone who tried to correct it. The Viking life detection experiments showed apparent circadian rythms, chacteristic of life, although no one noticed until the last few years amazingly enough. The "false negative" of Viking life detection along with the butchershop red are a proven formula for squelching interest in Mars exploration. JPL has squelched claims from Ames that evidence of organisms were found in meteorites from Mars- the same ones Clinton gave his "we are not alone in the universe" address over. At best, some parts of NASA want to monopolize exploration and at worst it's so weird I don't want to talk about it.

This time, so far, their priority doesn't seem to be on true colors although no one should know better than them that a too-red Mars works on the psyche of the masses like food coloring does, only in reverse. What makes meat look less grotesque in the stores makes Mars look less inviting, less hospitable, and less relevant. The reality is that it probably looks pretty earthlike, but a lot of color shots are a do-it-yourself proposition of combining appropriate red green and blue bands through, say the color channels on Paintshop for example, to create your own color. A lot of the bands being shot for the red are partly into the infrared for geological reasons,
so just grabbing any near red, green and blue, doesn't always have the best results for the average person or for NASA. I think the L3 band for Spirit the pan cam is about orange, actually. You can average some bands for better results in Paintshop image arithmatic. I've seen some versions by competent amateurs and they look pretty earthlike, and different from many of NASA's.

They're probably being negligent at least if not something weird or conspiratorial, but then even the evidence of that in the form of their off-colored releases had to pried out of them with a stick. Word has it only an incredible few wanted these pics out there as opposed to a six-month limbo before release at a NASA data dump, and it may be that same incredible few (i.e., Dr. Bell) that spoke up at all trying to help people make sense out of the weird results they tend to get creating their own Spirit and Opportunity color pics at first. But I also think the press pretty frequenly has a hand in mangling the facts about the colors, too. Even the BBC has some pretty cockeyed captions...

Hello 09.Feb.2004 10:33

umm yah

Indirectly, the affects of going to mars are infenetly beneficial to the benefactor of the consequenceiality of the Guamisian area of Mars

bush the moon and mars 07.Apr.2004 18:15

who cares

I'm pretty anti-bush. And I dont know maybe we will go to mars? I've done research and acording to bush by 2020 well find out. I think we will end up researching and as technology advances we will explore the universe and find out how to get resources we need. Because face it were killing the earth and its deterating faster than people think. All it takes is our EM field to reverse or get fucked with and the earth will be done for.