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Summer Storm on Mars

Summer Storm on Mars

Image Title: Summer Storm on Mars
Source: Viking Orbiter


Stormy weather isn't unique to Earth. Storms occur on Mars as well, but lacking the rain that cleans dust from the air. For me, this image highlights just one of the similarities that exist between Earth and Mars. I was also attracted by the dreamy quality of the image, although that quality is not readily apparent in the raw image shown below.

Source Image Background

This Viking 1 Orbiter image was acquired in June 1978 early in the northern hemisphere's summer. The image is of a region near the north polar cap, approximately 80 North, 160 West. This image was taken by the Viking 1 Orbiter when it was about 10,000 kilometers distant. As shown here, North is towards the left and East is up with the East-West dimension being approximately 500 kilometers long. What makes this image unique is the presence of the spiral, cyclonic cloud structure. In all their years of operation, the two Viking orbiters only observed four such storms. The exact nature of how such storms originate is a subject of debate.

Image Processing:

Raw Viking Orbiter image
Figure 1. The raw, unprocessed Viking image, rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise

All processing was done using Adobe Photoshop. Figure 1 shows the raw Viking image. The images shown here have been rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise for aesthetic reasons. The raw Viking image required significant noise removal as a first step. Subsequent steps served to enhance image contrast and provide a suitable color. The original image was taken using the violet filter and is actually 256 shades of gray. The coloring applied to the final image was chosen to best portray the atmospheric elements. The final image is 10.04 inches wide by 9.1 inches high at 300 ppi.


I have created a cropped, low resolution version of Summer Storm on Mars for use as a desktop wallpaper. Note that this wallpaper version is made available for your personal use only. It is not to be redistributed in any form by any means. All rights are retained by the artist.

Summer Storm on Mars, 1024 x 768 Wallpaper Image

2005 Jim Plaxco,