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Special Effects Whiz Assembles Awesome Curiosity Landing Video
Compilation of MARDI-snapped high-res images offers up easily the most visually arresting depiction of those harrowing final seconds we’ve seen yet.
A new compilation video of the final descent of NASA’s Curiosity rover to the surface of Mars is making the rounds, offering up easily the most visually arresting depiction of those harrowing final seconds we’ve seen yet.
The high-definition video, below, was created and posted on YouTube by visual effects editor Daniel Fitch. The proprietor of Santa Fe, N.M.-based post-production studio Altitude-FX crafted the video by downloading and assembling available high-resolution images taken by the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) camera aboard Curiosity during its Aug. 5 descent.
Spotted by the Lights in the Dark blog, Fraser Cain of Universe Today, and Wired, among others, Fitch’s incredible video kicks off with the separation of the lander’s heat shield and plays through to final touchdown.
The video runs at 3X real-time, according to Fitch, who said he was able to download “all but a dozen 1600×1200 frames” captured by MARDI during descent and uploaded from Curiosity by NASA. The missing frames “were interpolated using thumbnail data” to complete the video, he said.
Fitch ran his assembled descent footage through “a heavy noise reduction, color balance, and sharpening for best visibility” in the final product. He tacked on an enlarged sequence showing the heat shield’s impact on the Martian surface at the end of the video.
For more, check out the recent “Ask Me Anything” chat that Team Curiosity had on Reddit. PCMag’s Meredith Popolo was at the JPL in California covering the Curiosity rover’s arrival on Mars. For more, see her tour of JPL. Also check out 7 Minutes of Terror: Landing the Mars Curiosity Rover and How to Hack NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover.
By Damon Poeter, PCMag