Tagged: mars

The names of all bodies in the Solar System larger than 100 kilometres, with font sizes relative to their radius, based on the realistic colors of the objects against the black background of space

87 Members of the Solar Family

A while ago I made a family portrait of the solar system. Or rather a portrait of the leading members of the family, the eight planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Earth, Venus, Mars and Mercury. Moons, asteroids and dwarf planets But there’s more happening around the Sun. Moons for instance; our own Moon, of course, but also a large number of satellites of the four gas giants. There is an asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter where, besides a lot of little ones, also bigger objects are turning their rounds. But many asteroids can be found outside...

A room with world map Mars 2.0, showing the planet as it may look after terraforming, as decoration on the wall, while Mars rover Sojourner is driving around between the furniture

Mars 2.0 – Return to the Red, Green and Blue Planet

Liquid water has just been found on Mars. The movie The Martian (the perfect blend of Castaway and Apollo 13, with a touch of Saturday Night Fever) is in cinemas right now. And NASA has announced detailed plans to send people to Mars in twenty years. A good moment for me to take a look at the planet again as well. Mars Society Netherlands Mars and I have a long history together. In 1999 I founded, together with Arno Wielders (currently involved in Mars One) the Dutch chapter of the Mars Society in a café in Leiden. In the first...

Group portrait of the eight planets of our solar system, shown to scale: Earth, Venus, Mars and Mercury in their entirety and parts of Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus

Portrait of the Planets

When you want to capture the whole Solar System in one image, you come across a problem: the distances between the eight planets and their star are huge, almost unimaginable. In all the pictures of the solar system you’ve ever seen the sizes of the planets are wrong: they are strongly exaggerated, by necessity. On a scale model of about two metres – a nice size to hang on the wall in your living room – the Earth would be only four thousandths of a millimeter. You wouldn’t even be able to see our homeworld! Heaven on Earth The only...

NASA's indestructible Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, still going strong after two hundred years, driving around on the terraformed former Red Planet

Opportunity’s Bicentennial

More than eleven years ago, on January 25, 2004, Opportunity, NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover, landed in Meridiani Planum. An identical rover, Spirit, landed three weeks earlier, on the other side of Mars. Both vehicles were expected to remain active for 90 Martian days, more or less equal to three months on Earth. The Martian climate would claim its toll, or so the mission planners feared. Although on Mars the sun shines more than six hundred days a year, the dust storms and large daily temperature differences would surely leave their mark. Indestructible Oppy But the rovers appeared to be more...

Orbital image of a terraformed Mars with the Northern ocean and the North Pole, Valles Marineris, Kasei Vallis, Arabia Terra and the Tharsis highlands, against a background of stars

Modified Mars Revisited

A few weeks ago I received an email from someone who asked my permission to use Modified Mars as a setting for a novel. Modified Mars is a project that I conceived eight years ago, and it’s about terraforming the world currently known as the Red Planet. Another Earth A brief explanation for those who rarely or never read science fiction: terraforming (literally earth formation) is the alteration of a planet in such a way that Earth organisms, including humans, can thrive there. Terraformers are especially interested in Mars for several reasons: the planet is not too big, not too...

Kerstkaart met schilderachtig beeld van een kerkje in het winterlandschap in nationaal park Thingvellir in IJsland

Merry Christmars

For decades, I’ ve been putting a great deal of work into my Christmas cards. And sometimes into those of others. This year I made one by commission of Explore Mars, a (mostly) American non-profit organization that promotes Manned Mars exploration: The design and the text “Two Down, Mars and the Universe to go” is a reference to Neil Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind” and the recent landing of the European spacecraft Philae on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Mars comes into view as the next big step. And after that there are a few hundred billion stars and their planets to...

Artist impression of the Marstunnel in Zutphen, The Netherlands, as seen from the city side, with dark brick walls and light art by Herman Kuyer

Is it Mars? No, it’s Zutphen!

In April work will start on the Marstunnel in Zutphen, a collaborative project of ProRail and Rail Infra Solutions. During my years at Royal HaskoningDHV I have been involved in the design of the tunnel, for which I made, among other things, these artist impressions. The Marstunnel has nothing to do with our red planetary neighbor. The name refers to an area called De Mars which will be connected to the city center by the tunnel. However, it must be said that there’s a 38 kilometre wide crater on Mars called Zutphen. Brick and artwork It’s great news that the...

Hebes Chasma, in the early stages of terraforming. rendered in Terragen, with NASA's indestructible rover Opportunity

Terraforming for Beginners

Terragen is software for generating landscapes. Landscapes on Earth but just as easily on other worlds, as is shown for example by Kees Veenenbos. Years ago I loaded some elevation data from NASA’s Mars Orbital Laser Altimeter into Terragen and I did some experimenting. There is a new version of the program now, which was a good reason to take those old terrain data off the shelf again. Rocks and grass There is much more possible with Terragen, these days. In the old days only aerial views could be made somewhat realistic but nowadays you can add rocks, grass clumps,...

Ares, the spaceship from Kim Stanley Robinson's novel Red Mars in orbit around the Red Planet.

Red Mars – the Movie

Now that I’ve made that 3d model of the Ares, and now that I have my own YouTube channel, the logical next step is to make an animation showing the arrival of the spacecraft in Mars orbit. The clip makes it clear how the spaceship rotates around its own axis to generate gravity. I stand in good company because James Cameron, director of Titanic and Avatar, among others, once had plans to adapt Red Mars to screen. That movie was, unfortunately, never made; for my own film there is now at least a 45 seconds trailer.