Opportunity for anaglyphs

By Phil Plait | February 9, 2010 8:00 am

Oh, I have a very cool anaglyph (red-green 3D images) for you! Stuart Atkinson from the Cumbrian Sky blog has created some fantastic anaglyphs of images from the Mars rover Opportunity as it investigates Concepcion crater. Here are some blocks that look like ejecta from the impact itself:


[Click to embiggen.]

These are beautiful! They almost look sedimentary, which at least makes some sense given that the region Opportunity is roving, Meridiani Planum, was once under water. Closeups of those rocks show they have the famous "blueberries", concretions of jarosite formed by mineral-laden water.

Stuart has lots more pictures he’s fiddled with, too, and it’s well worth your looking around his site. You should also read Emily Lakdawalla’s great description of Concepcion, talking about how we know it’s a fresh crater about 1000 years old. It’s a fascinating read.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Pretty pictures

Comments (37)

  1. mike burkhart

    Thanks for the photo I’ve added it to my 3d Mars collection I think 3d imanges are good for studying in giveing depth precption a few years ago there was a book that had star charts in 3d (it might be out of print now) when you put on 3d viewer it looked like the stars leped off the page kind of like in Star Wars

  2. Oh, I wish they would present these as cross-eyed 3D (e.g. http://www.marsunearthed.com/CrossEyed_3D/MarsCross-Eyed_3DIndex.htm).

    Cross your eyes to create a “third” overlapping image between the two presented. The 3D effect is perfect, and can be in full colour.

  3. T.E.L.

    For Martian analglyph pics I always just pull out my trusty specs leftover from The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D

  4. Oops. Looks like the comment code didn’t convert that link properly. Take the ) off the end for it to work.

  5. Zucchi

    How is this picture created? Does Opportunity have a stereoscopic camera? Otherwise, I don’t see how the two images can represent the left-eye and right-eye view.

    (I don’t have stereoscopic vision myself, but I know the theory.)

  6. T.E.L.


    Yes, the Rover has a stereo pair of cameras. They’re mounted atop that tall T-shaped mast that stands on the Rover’s body.

    The Apollo crews used to take stereo pairs by shooting one and then stepping sideways a few inches.

  7. Steve

    Does this mean these exist as regular stereo-pairs somewhere? Because what would be cooler than looking a 3D images of Mars on my Victorian stereo viewer?

    Or a nice space age Kodak realist viewer?

  8. T.E.L.


    Yes, the raw images exist as separate files. They have to be processed to turn them into anaglyphic images.

    In fact, you can see the raw images here:

    Spirit: http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/all/spirit.html
    Opportunity: http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/all/opportunity.html

  9. Great pictures. (Now if I could only find some 3d glasses.) :)

    Soon we will have Avatar style movies of mars?

  10. Melusine

    The clarity on that photo is great when you “embiggen” it. I feel like I’m there…I wish I was there. A keeper for sure.

  11. Gary Ansorge

    I used the 3-D glasses that were provided for Avatar but this pic doesn’t appear 3-D to me. Is it the differential color overlay or something else?

    Gary 7

  12. Steve: I think the images you want are Opportunity Nav Cam, sol 2147. (left, right)

    Since I don’t have red/blue glasses handy, I opened the raw images in two separate browser windows, scaled them down and put them side by side. That gave me a decent uncross-your-eyes stereo pair.

  13. T.E.L.

    The Avatar specs separate the images with polaroid filters. Anaglyphs separate them with the colored tints. Since computer monitors can’t differently polarize the images, the only option (using specs) for 3-D on your browser is anaglyph.

  14. Ray

    I first read “anaglyphs” as “analglyphs” and was a little afraid to click on the link. Boy was I wrong.

  15. T.E.L.

    Here’s a little Mars/3-D history factoid. The movie The Man From Mars was shot and presented in 3-D way back in 1922. The process had two separate projectors synced to show the left-right frames alternately: left-right-left-right, and so on. Each audience member then had a 3-D viewer attached to the chair. The viewer had left-right eye shutters that opened & closed alternately in sync with the frames up on the screen. It was somewhat like shoving your face into that tester an the eye doctor. The system was so easy and comfortable to use that it’s been in dignified retirement for close to 90 years.

  16. ND

    Tree Lobsters!

    I just wanted to say that. That’s all.

  17. Stan9FOS

    Tree Lobsters is on the right track here for me; I’m still hatin’ on these multicolored 3-D images. I never have acquired the right glasses for these & much prefer the “Crossed-eye” technique, although that’s another kettle of fish. Plus, post – “Avatar,” half of the world probably has the polarized 3-D glasses that they kept as a souvenir, and this may be a format to begin to post such images. Not that I want to start a new format war here, or anything – Betamax 3-D, anyone?
    At any rate, thanks for posting these in whatever format available.

  18. ET NL

    FYI, about 15 minutes ago there were two very bright orange lights in the sky over the south of the Netherlands. The lights were somewhat flickering and moved in north-south direction. There was quite some distance between them. I kept watching but there were no sounds of airplanes. Eventually the lights faded just like I’ve seen before with (other) meteors.

  19. Zucchi

    I always feel envious about this stuff. I don’t have stereoscopic vision in normal life, so stereo pictures and movies don’t work for me. I wonder what it’s like.

  20. T.E.L.

    Zucchi Said:

    “I wonder what it’s like.”

    I can tell you this much: at the movies it’s way overrated.

  21. Now we need to add a stereo tag: “I didn’t do it…it was broken when I got here.”

  22. Michael Kingsford Gray

    Fossilised wood!

  23. Josh R.

    Hey Phil, question, since I know how much you love optical illusionary-type stuff and what tricks the brain can play on us: having looked at lots of anaglyphs over the years (just because they’re so darned cool), when I see an anaglyph displayed now, I almost feel like I can partially see it in 3D without even wearing glasses.

    Is it possible that the brain can somehow adapt to separating out the tints by itself, giving a pseudo-3D view even without glasses? Or have I just seen enough 3D images of regolith on Mars to know what it *should* look like? Or am I just plain broken?

  24. Brian The Coyote

    Doesn’t anyone else see the stickman drawing on the rock on the right? He’s holding something in his left hand! Absolute proof of intellient aliens visiting our solar system. QED!!! Wait til I tell Dick Hoagland about this!

    What? No, I don’t know what pareidolia means but I know I won’t get the vaccine for it!

  25. sophia8

    Zucchi: I don’t have stereoscopic vision either, and images like these just give me a headache. I can avoid going to see 3D films, but if regular TV shows start getting broadcast in 3D only, I’m calling in the disability laws on them.
    Yes, I’ve wondered a few times what true stereosccopic vision is like. All I have a a kind of faux-stereoscopy, where my brain compares objects by distance. That way, I can look at distant things like mountains and think “Hey! is that what depth looks like?”

  26. Gary Ansorge

    23. Josh R.

    I’ve never heard of anyone being able to “learn” to see 3-d images w/o glasses however, as anecdotal as your question is, it might be a place to begin some investigation. Perhaps you have differential spectrum sensitivity in each eye, ie, one eye is more sensitive to blue, while the other is more sensitive to red.

    Just a thought.

    13 T.E.L.

    Thanks. Didn’t realize my glasses were just polarized lenses.

    GAry 7

  27. Melusine


    You can get 3D glasses here. I got the $6.95 Pro-V view ones and they work just dandy. I tried the Avatar glasses at first too. Nope. [I thought a $15 ticket warranted keeping the glasses and I assume the distributors can afford it!]

  28. Stu

    Glad everyone’s liking the pics on my blog – thanks for the plug, Phil! :-) Anyone wanting cheap 3D glasses: go into your local discount bookstore and take a look at the kids section, where you’ll find at least one kids “3D Book Of Dinosaurs!” or “…Bugs!” that comes with one or more sets of 3D glasses. :-)

  29. You can get blue/red glasses with the DVD of “Fly Me To The Moon” too – a kids’ movie about Apollo 11.

  30. GeneralMusings

    I prefer the crossed eye type 3d photos. The only equipment required is two working eyes. No further monetary expenditures necessary.

  31. T.E.L.

    I just remembered that I have an old copy of 3-D Star Maps on my bookshelves, which came with two anaglyph specs tucked inside.

  32. Anders

    …but isn’t that Elvis in profile on the light rock in the centre?

  33. T.E.L.

    Anders Said:

    “…but isn’t that Elvis in profile on the light rock in the centre?”

    Elvis has left the Planet!

  34. I see a runner being tagged at second base on the piece on the left – and from the positions of the runner and the second baseman, the runner was attempting to steal third.

  35. Ben

    Hey Phil:

    These are not 3D. They are *stereo*. Big difference. If they were 3D, you could observe the subject matter from more than one angle. Stereo images are still one angle, just like a 2D image. This is the same technology the Viewmaster was using in the 1950’s, and others even before that. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. If for no other reason than when you see a *real* 3D display, you won’t have anything left to call it.

  36. Ben2

    Hey Phil, why don’t you call James Cameron and tell him to stop calling it Avatar 3d LOL! (And technically stereo is 2 angles.) Oh and @ the person who’s going to call in the Feds if they can’t get 2D TV LOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!!!!!!!! Wow lots of funny ones here.


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