Take Flight Over Mars

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It will be years, decades, before humans explore Mars. Until then, we'll just have to rely on robots and satellites. And talented 3D-animators.

Doug Ellison took advantage of the thousands of images from the HiRISE camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to create the animation above. Ray Villard at Discovery News explains:

Ellison constructed the 3D terrain model from comparison of pairs of NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE views taken from slightly different points of view.  Advanced stereo-matching algorithms automatically combined features between the two images, and determined their relative elevations based upon how much they shift with the spacecraft's perspective offset between orbits. He has set up a YouTube channel called MARS3DdotCOM with other visualizations. (The HiRISE team is now releasing digital terrain models that they produce in-house, so that anybody with 3D rendering software and some skill can try creating this sort of animation.)

The video lacks any music, so you'll need to add your own soundtrack. How about Gustav Holst's Mars: Bringer of War from his series, The Planets? Any better suggestions?

(HT: Geeks Are Sexy)