Celebrating Red Planet Day With Trippy Space Visuals

The 28th of November marks Red Planet Day. It commemorates the same date in 1964 when the Mariner 4 spacecraft performed the first successful flyby of everyone’s favourite blushing planet Mars. In taking pictures of the Martian surface, the spacecraft finally gave humanity a look at a celestial object it has long been fixated by. 

The Warlike Planet

It’s true! Mars has captured the imagination of us earthlings like few other planets. Visible to the naked eye for most of the year, ancient civilisations wondered at its red glow. The Babylonians, who began keeping records of celestial activity around 400 BC referred to it as ‘Nergal’, after their ‘King of Conflicts’. Presumably this was due to its scarlet hue, reminiscent of blood. The ancient Greeks and Romans continued this association, naming the planets after their gods of war — Ares and Mars respectively. The month of March is named after Mars, according to the Romans the luckiest time to go to war. 

Mars and Venus by Sandro Botticelli, c 1485. Tempera and oil on poplar panel, 69 cm x 173 cm

Life on Mars?

Mars is one of our nearest neighbours in the solar system, and of a similar size. Because of this, people have always wondered if the red planet fostered life, just like our own Mother Earth. In the 17th century, the discovery of Mars’ polar ice caps and the later disproved identification of ‘canals’ fueled this speculation further. British writer H.G Wells penned the iconic ‘The War of The Worlds’ in 1897 — a story about Martians invading Earth. However, in 1894 U.S astronomer William Wallace Campbell confirmed that the atmosphere of Mars contained neither water nor oxygen. Currently, no proof has been found that life exists on Mars. But! neither has it been proven it definitely does not. Thus the mysteries of the red planet continue to intrigue us….

Since the Mariner 4 captured the surprisingly barren, and waterless face of Mars in 1964, there have been various other missions, the most recent to date being February 2021’s Mars Perseverance  Rover. Still chipping away at that old chestnut, and David Bowie bop (is there) Life On Mars?

Visuals For Red Planet Day

But, whether you’re a total Martian-head or you just wanna tip your hat to that rusty rock, to celebrate Red Planet Day, we thought we’d get together some trippy Mars-tastic visuals for you to enjoy. Best experienced with some blast-you-into-space magic truffles like the Alien or Qubit!

That First Glimpse of the Face of Mars

Ok, its kinda low-fi but this is the footage that Red Planet Day was inspired by. Eight months after its launch, the Mariner 4 finally flew by Mars, gifting us this haunting footage. At last, we saw the face of our red neighbour. And, it was surprisingly barren, with no obvious signs of life. However, finally having a reckoning with an entity that we had only dreamed of getting so close to, well that sure is a trip in itself.

The Most Recent Mars Adventure

The grandkid of the Mariner 4, the Perseverance Rover explored the face of Mars back in February, collecting the most detailed footage to date. The difference in quality to the 1960s mission really is staggering. Scientific progress is trippy! This video from NASA charts the spacecraft’s entry, decent and landing onto Mars, with NASA commentators explaining whats going on each step of the way. Seeing much of it through the ‘eye’ of the spacecraft you can almost pretend you are the Rover itself, wandering the dusty planet.

Seeing Our Home From Another Perspective

Sometimes we’re so busy looking outwards we forget what we have already at home. Looking back down at our beautiful planet can remind us that it really is the perfect spot, the only planet proven to have life. Take that Mars! Joking aside, just spending some time watching this footage and pondering our magical planet sure is relaxing, and mix that with a little dose of magic truffles and you’ll just wanna give Mother Earth a great big kiss. Alternately, you could pretend you are a Martian, and this is your view as you descend into Earths atmosphere — presumably to wreak havoc and take over the world!!!

Intergalactic Disk-O

So, it turns out that our Milky Way is a beautiful sparkly spiral inside a disk-shaped galaxy. You’ll just have to take our world for it (and we take NASA’s word for it!). But the folks at NASA have created a visual simulation of the life history of a disk-shaped galaxy just like our own, so we can at least start to comprehend the majesty of the giant and mysterious universe. Turn on this vid, add a soundtrack of your choice (this footage is silent), and try and imagine our little planet, Mars, our Sun and all the other celestial folks twirling and whirling though 13.5 billion years of firey intergalactic business.

Kubrick’s Psychedelic Space Vision

Ok, so it’s not ‘real’ space footage, or even a NASA simulation, but even now, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is held up as an almost freakishly prescient depiction of space travel, made before even the first moon landing. The later part of the movie is a spiritual and psychedelic meltdown that is still blowing minds today, as it did in the 1960s. In fact so effecting was the 2001 that many still maintain today that Kubrick must have been behind the ‘fake’ moon-landing, as he was able to represent space so accurately. Make of that what you will…

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