Planet MarsMars Art Gallery

Hellas Planitia Alienus

Hellas Planitia Alienus abstract image

Image Title: Hellas Planitia Alienus
Source: Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) data
Release Date: February 28, 2006


A single celled creature under a microscope or a great impact basin 2000 kilometers across and up to 8 kilometers deep? Why not both? In the beginning there was a 64 pixels per degree MOLA (Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter) DEM (Digital Elevation Model) of the surface of Mars for the Hellas region. While not exciting to look at, such data is important to geologists in their quest to understand that planet.

While experimenting with ways in which this data could be manipulated, I began to see a resembelence between this very large planetary feature and a very small bacterium under a microscope. It was this thought that drove me to pursue a path that resulted in the image you see above.

Source Image Background

The source data used to create this image was a Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) digital elevation model (DEM) file. A MOLA DEM is an accurate representation of the topography of Mars. The DEM is built up over time by firing a laser beam at the surface of Mars and timing how long it takes for the reflection off the surface to return to the spacecraft. This process is repeated millions of times to gradually construct a highly accurate elevation profile of Mars.

Image Processing

All work on this image was performed in Adobe Photoshop. The print version of this image is 5462 by 3609 pixels.


I have created a very low resolution, compressed version of "Hellas Planitia Alienus" for use as a desktop wallpaper. This wallpaper is made available for your personal use only. It is not to be modified or redistributed in any form by any means. All rights are retained by the artist.

Hellas Planitia Alienus Wallpaper
Hellas Planitia Alienus, 1280 X 1024 Wallpaper Image by Jim Plaxco

2005 Jim Plaxco,