Planet MarsMars Art Gallery

The Genesis Image

Genesis colorized image of Mars south polar terrain

Image Title: Genesis
Source: Mars Global Surveyor


This image was the very first image in my "Mars As Art" collection. The source image, a MGS NA view of the polar terrain at the south pole, was one that I selected to include in a talk I was giving about the Mars Global Surveyor findings in 2001. In the course of processing the image, in order to give it some extra contrast and crop it for a 35mm slide, I began to wonder what it would look like in color. I then began to experiment with swapping palettes so as to produce a pseudocolor image. This particular combination of colors impressed me and I included this colorized version in my talk, following up with the straight grayscale version.

My pleasure with the pseudocolor results in this image led me to create a Perl program with which, based on specified input parameters, I could quickly and easily generate color lookup tables for palette swapping.

Source Image Background

The source image, M1301121, is a summer view of the residual cap at the south pole of Mars. This feature is located at 86.5S, 344.7W. This terrain has been referred to as martian "swiss cheese." It is believed that the annual freeze/thaw cycle of the carbon dioxide is responsible for the unusual erosion features of this terrain.

Image Processing

For this images, the raw MGS NA source data file was first cleaned up to remove noise. I then stretched the histogram to make full use of all 256 possible shades of gray. Finally I began swapping color palettes searching for a particular palette that yielded a pleasing combination of colors.

2005 Jim Plaxco,