Image processing scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have created "Mars the Movie," an animated, three-dimensional look at the planet Mars.

Using computer-enhanced images taken by the Viking Orbiter spacecraft, scientists have simulated flight through the enormous canyons and above the volcanoes of the Martian landscape. "Mars the Movie" takes the viewer on tour through Valles Marineris, canyon system near the Martian equator that stretches farther than the distance from Los Angeles to New York -- and over Tharsis Montes, series of giant volcanoes more than twice the size of Mount Everest.

The entire length of Valles Marineris is traveled in about five seconds at an average speed of roughly 600 miles per second or 160,000 miles per hour from vantage point of approximately three to five miles above the surface.

During the flight, elevations vary from three miles to 500 miles above the surface.

The relief has been exaggerated five times and the natural color enhanced to allow better interpretation of small surface features.

Designed to provide planetary scientists with better, more complete view of the surface of Mars and to demonstrate improvements in the three-dimensional perspective rendering technology at JPL, the production of "Mars the Movie" required 37 days of uninterrupted computer time (15 minutes per frame) and is comprised more than 3,500 3-D perspective rendered frames.

The simulated flight lasts about two minutes.

The digital terrain model and photo mosaic used to create the movie were generated by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Flagstaff, Arizona.

"Mars the Movie" was produced by JPL Visualization and Earth Sciences Applications group members, Kevin J. Hussey, Robert A. Mortensen and C.T. Kelly.

The project was funded by the NASA Office of Space Science and Applications.

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