This page describes how the rotating Mars movie was made.
To create the spinning Mars globe, first I took pictures of the different sides of Mars. Doing so was complicated by several things. As viewed from where I live in the Northern Hemisphere, Mars never got higher than about 34° above the horizon. Low-atmospheric turbulence made it difficult to get sharp images. Adding to the challenge, 2003 was an unusually rainy year where I live on the East Coast of the US. As a result, all of my images of Mars were taken during average to poor seeing. Some were even taken through holes in the clouds.
To minimize the effects of the turbulence, I tried to take images when Mars was as high in the sky as possible. This meant that I couldn't just wait for Mars to rotate through the night to see its different sides, but had to wait for its rotation rate to slowly change the side facing me. Mars takes a little more than a day to complete one rotation. If viewed at the same time each night, it appears to rotate backwards a bit each night, so it takes about a month to see all of its sides. During the month of imaging surrounding Mars' closest approach, I managed to capture ten images.
The region above about 71° north on the map appears black because Mars' North Pole was tilted away from Earth during this apparition and wasn't visible. Since I reconstructed the animated globe using the same tilt, the missing region didn't appear in the final movie.
An additional complication came from the fact that Mars' southern polar cap shrank noticeably during the four weeks of imaging. This is apparent in the set of three images shown above, which span 23 days, and in the next image.
The movie is displayed on this site in several versions:
(Please note that all images shown here are copyrighted ©2003-2004 and must not be copied on your web site without my written permission!) Here's how to contact me.