Creating 3D Mars Images
Using instructions from the Mars Exploration Rover website (See my version at the bottom of this page), I have made a few three dimensional pictures of the Martian surface. To view these pictures, you need to use Red / Blue glasses with red on the left and blue on the right side.
You can right click these pictures for the full size images.
New - Feb 18 - Thanks Jeanine for the reminder!
Notice the different details brought out by the Spirit Rover using different geologic bandpass filters on the same scene
For these next pictures, focus close in then move your view outward...
New - Feb 11 - Thanks Jeanine for the reminder!
How to Make Your Own Eye-Popping 3-D Pictures
Since settling in on the red planet, the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity have sent back a number of 3-D postcards to countless fans outfitted in red- and blue-tinted spectacles. To some, the realistic pictures of the rocky martian terrain may seem magical, but the concept behind the illusion is in fact quite simple.
"Basically, 3-D pictures trick your brain into doing what it does all the time in the real world," says Zareh Gorjian, a graphic artist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory who makes 3-D pictures and animations of Mars for a living, both the black-and-white kind and the more advanced color versions.
So simple is the trick that, with a little effort, anybody with a camera, a computer equipped with photo-editing software, and a pair of tinted glasses can make their own 3-D pictures of Mars, family members, pets or anything else worth placing in front of a lens.
Gorjian, who has been toying with the technique for 10 years, transforms all sorts of pictures into 3-D feasts for the eyes, including his latest vacation photos. "It's just fun," he says.
The key to 3-D imaging lies in simulating a left and right eye. For the Mars Exploration Rovers, this is accomplished with the aid of a left and right camera eye. Images from the rovers' stereo camera lenses (either the hazard-avoidance cameras, the navigation cameras or the panoramic cameras) are tinted in red and blue, then merged into one blurred picture, which pops off the page when viewed through a pair of red- and blue-tinted glasses.
"Your brain thinks it is seeing two separate left and right images and so does what it always does -- combines them into one picture," says Gorjian.
These basic 3-D photos are called anaglyphs and work best when viewed in black and white. Color anaglyphs are trickier because red and blue objects appear only to one eye. "You give up full color when you use the red and blue glasses," says Gorjian.
Instead, he and his colleagues at JPL's Multimission Image Processing Laboratory create 3-D color photos using two sophisticated techniques: polarization and infrared-transmission. In polarization, the light from left and right eye images is polarized, or made to travel in opposing, perpendicular directions. In infrared-transmission, left and right eye images are flickered back and forth on a special screen faster than an eye can blink. Both strategies require specialized glasses for viewing.
Black-and-white 3-D images do not require fancy tools or equipment and can be snapped and clicked into being by following these directions recommended by Gorjian:
Note: If Mars is your subject, the pictures have already been taken for you. Scan through the raw images on the JPL web site http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov and pick out left and right eye images for your favorite photo (only images taken by the rovers' navigation cameras, hazard-avoidance cameras and panoramic cameras come in pairs). The stereo images will look identical, but you can tell if an individual image is from the left or right camera eye by clicking on it and looking at the file name displayed in the web address bar. Left camera eye image file names will contain the letter "L" four characters in from the end, and right eye image file names will similarly carry an "R." Two raw image examples can be found at
Your creation is ready to be viewed! Just don your paper glasses (the left eye should be tinted red) and watch the picture jump out at you from your monitor screen or a printed picture.
This procedure works for people too, but you have to have them stay VERY still while you shoot the pictures!