Blue Skies on Mars

The Color of Mars

The Color of Mars

My science fiction RPG “Red Drums” was about a hollow Phobos containing apparent “tombs” of three-eyed titanic Martians who, when disturbed, proved to be merely sleeping… It also featured a Mars with a blue sky, something unheard of in science fiction since the late 1950s… For whatever reason…


The Color of Mars

author: Holger Isenberg,
, http://mars

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deutscher Text
created: March 1999
last update: 14.June 2000

The Red Planet, this name has to appear in every article of the main-stream press on Mars. The same importance play the little green men in contributions of renowned daily German papers such as Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung or Sueddeutsche Zeitung published on the Mars meteorite ALH84001.
Without doubt, the planet appears red with the naked eye in the night sky, whereby our earth viewed from Mars, would appear clearly blue, due to the 70% water coverage in connection with refraction of light in the atmosphere. With a reverse relation of the water land distribution however, rather a brown-green planet would be to be seen from space.
The color of the atmosphere, caused by Rayleigh Scattering[4] at gas molecules, determines thus only in very small amount the color of a planet as seen from space and also directly on the surface!
Why then should the Mars sky, as NASA/JPL PR-department spreads it, should appear red? This coloring is justified if at all, only with the refraction of light at atmospheric dust. But such masses of dust in the atmosphere do not prevail over years on a planet, which has large water-clouds, fog and ground frost, since water would wash these away after short time.
Astronomers at the Hubble Spacetelescope and amateur-astronomers[8] are observing, since long time now, white water-clouds and blueish atmosphere.

Pic. A, Viking 1, Nr. 12b069, 29. August 1976, 12.65 locale Mars time
This picture was created with color-correction derived from the filter response data. (click on picture to view it in original size)
All Viking and Pathfinder images courtesy of JPL/NASA/Caltech.

original data without correction

Indeed, when the first color picture from Viking 1 was received on Earth, the Mars soil was red-brown and the sky was blue, a landscape comparable with the desert of Arizona[3] (fig. A and B).
These are original pictures[5] of the two probes, which are only slightly color corrected to match the filter response values of the camera system. However, the original data without correction, you see on the right of each image, has almost no detectable difference in color.
The Viking cameras operated according to the principle of a color scanner, whereby for different light wave lengths different sensors with separate data channels are used.
To create a colorful picture from this scanner data, a color calibration table is necessary. These tables can be seen near the mast of the parabolic antenna in Pic. A and B and show among grayscales the three basic colours (RGB) of a color monitor.
Already with the naked eye it can be detected there that the colours are correctly shown. Also in Pic.E this can be acknowledged, since the white ground frost (water ice!) supplies a natural color calibration to the white alignment.

Pic. B, Viking 2, Nr. 22a158, 25. September 1976, 11.96 locale Mars time
This picture was created with color-correction derived from the filter response data.

original data without correction

Pic.C shows a typical (NASA-)red Mars picture in the color, taken 18 months later. How does it come to this color change, although the sharply bordered shadows and the otherwise clear colours suggest no atmosphere dust?
The solution of the mystery appears, when using an image processing program: By rising the color-values of blue and green about 50% and 25% one gets to Pic.D, which shows the well known true coloring from Pic.A and B.

Pic. C, Viking 1, 12h016,
11 February 1978, 15.56

Pic. D
Blue amplified by 50%, green around 25%

Pic. E, Viking 2, 21i093,
18.May 1979, 14.24

With the same method[1] we can get true color picture from Mars Pathfinder (Pic. F and G). Note, the sharpness of the Pathfinder images is by far not that good as 20 years ago on Viking as during the Pathfinder mission an information-reducing picture compression algorithm (comparable to JPEG) was used.

Pic. F, Pathfinder,
August1997, source:[6]

Pic. G,
Blue amplified by approx. 50%,
green by approx. 25%

Pic. H, 12e018
03.Jul 1977, 15:20

Pic. I, 12b166
6.Oct 1976, 7:48
Temporary, the surface illumination is really red, caused by dust-storms, darkening the sky. The image on the left was taken shortly after or during such a storm and the diffuse light with almost no shadows is visible. In contrast to this, the image on the right, shows sharp shadows and clear blue sky, the normal condition on Mars.
On the image-data of the Viking- and Pathfinder-Missions, this diffuse illumination is a very rare condition and not the normal state, as NASA seems to publish it with their dull-red pictures.
(click on images for unfiltered original data)

And now the “official” true color view of the Pathfinder landing site published by NASA:

Pic. J, Source:
Original Caption Released with Image:
The true color of Mars based upon three filters with the sky set to a luminance of 60. The color of the Pathfinder landing site is yellowish brown with only subtle variations. These colors are identical to the measured colors of the Viking landing sites reported by Huck et al. [1977]. This image was taken near local noon on Sol 10. A description of the techniques used to generate this color image from IMP data can be found in Maki et al., 1999. Note: a calibrated output device is required accurately reproduce the correct colors.

I don’t know why you should calibrate your output device to view this funny bad-colored picture.



Holger Isenberg, Blue Sky on Mars: http://mars
Robert Shepherd, Synthetic High resolution Viking image:
Vincent DiPietro, Mars: Red sky or blue sky?:,
Department of Meteorology, University of Maryland, Why is the sky blue?: other sources: Blue Sky and Red Sky explained, “What atmosphere would produce a red sky?”
NASA/JPL, Planetary Data System Imaging Node: http://www /
Peter Smith, University of Arizona, Pathfinder panorama: img.html
Filter spectral responsivities on Viking Lander:
Association of Lunar & Planetary Observers: Mars Section:


As victims’ bodies are recovered still holding hands and at least one victim was initially described as wearing a life jacket, other oddness is emerging about QZ8501, the destroyed AirAsia plane that crashed before New Year’s.

A Mysterious Chinese blogger apparently predicted the fate of AirAsia flight QZ8501 two weeks before the tragic incident occurred.

MOSCOW, December 30 (Sputnik), Ekaterina Blinova – A Mysterious Chinese blogger seemingly predicted the AirAsia QZ8501 catastrophe, providing warnings to potential travelers some two weeks before the tragic incident actually happened.


Exodus: Gods and Kings (MOVIE REVIEW)


Good news! This movie isn’t nearly as aberrant from the source material as Noah was. But this still isn’t the scriptural adaption you’ve been waiting for. With Exodus: Gods and Kings director Ridley Scott sets out to retell the classic tale of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egyptian enslavement with the help of God, for our modern age viewing experience. Aside from the skeleton idea found in the scriptures, many creative liberties were taken, and not once did they enhance the film. As you might expect, it fails miserably. Spoilers for this film and the Book of Exodus to follow.

The scriptural account indicates that Moses’ was educated in all the knowledge of the Egyptians, as he was adopted into Pharaoh’s own household. Whether this included military strategy and the art of warfare, is never explained, but it could easily be conjectured. The film starts off with Moses fighting…

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Hunter S. Thompson: snuff film maker or stone cold pedophile? #HeyRube

Hey Rube:

“Hey Rube!” is a rallying cry used by circus and carnival workers who find themselves in a serious confrontation with customers. It is used to summon backup from fellow workers, and can be employed as an expression for the fight itself.

Hey Rube:

Hunter S. Thompson’s ESPN column;

Hey Rube:

One is the fact that the McReynoldses’ middle daughter, then 9, was abducted along with a friend in Longmont and witnessed the sexual molestation of her friend. The incident occurred on Dec. 26, 1974. No suspects were ever arrested.
JonBenet was found murdered in the basement of her parents’ luxurious Boulder home 22 years later. An autopsy showed that JonBenet may have been sexually assaulted.
Another parallel is an award-winning play written by Janet McReynolds in 1976. The play, “Hey Rube,” is about the sexual assault, torture and murder of a girl whose body was found in a basement.
Janet McReynolds went with her husband to the Ramsey house on the night of Dec. 23, when he portrayed Santa at a Christmas party for the third consecutive year. Bill McReynolds was given a tour of the Ramsey’s 6,866-square-foot home in 1995.
The McReynoldses told police their alibi for the night of JonBenet’s murder was that they went to bed at 8 p.m. JonBenet died sometime between her bedtime Christmas night and dawn the following day.

Hey Rube: