These Web pages provide a preview of some of the three-dimensional images of the nine planets, their satellites, asteroids, and the Sun that can be found on the LPI's new 3-D Tour of the Solar System CD-ROM. Most of these stereo views were created from photos and images returned by NASA astronauts and unmanned space probes, and allow "armchair astronomers" to explore the solar system in vibrant realistic detail. Through these images, you can view craters on Venus, hurricanes on Earth, active volcanos on Jupiter's moon, Io, and river channels on Mars. Most of these stereo images also include a table of scientific data, brief geological descriptions, and an extensive glossary of geologic terms.
The 3-D images you will see on this CD-ROM are produced in a manner similar to the way your eyes work when you look at an object. When you look out a window, you actually see two images, one from the left eye and one from the right. (To prove this, hold your arm out in front of you, and stick your thumb up. Now close each eye in turn and you will notice that you see a slightly different view of your thumb. Open both eyes, though, and you see only one thumb!) Your brain then combines these two images to produce one image, together with a sense of distance (how close or far away things appear). Without this "depth perception," we would keep walking into things!
In order to create the 3-D images you will look at here, we took two similar pictures of an object. Although similar, each image was taken from a slightly different position (this simulates the effect of having two eyes). Then one picture was colored red and the other colored blue and green. Now when you look at the picture while wearing your special glasses, your brain sees two images (just like in real life) and combines them to produce one image (again with a feeling for how far away objects appear). This is why the pictures appear three-dimensional.
The senior author, Dr. Paul Schenk, is a staff scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute. Dr. Schenk completed his Ph.D. in planetary geosciences in 1988 at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Since joining the research staff at the LPI in 1991, he has been using Voyager and Viking stereo images to map the topography and geology of the icy outer planet satellites and Mars. Dr. Schenk has been a stereo image afficionado for many years, and became interested in stereo images of the planets because they reveal geologic features not otherwise visible, thereby greatly aiding our understanding of how and why features on the planets formed. These 3-D images help make distant planets and other celestial bodies more "real" and familiar.
Note: After removing your 3-D glasses, you may need to allow a few seconds for your eyes to readjust to normal depth perception.
The Planet Tour allows you to explore the planetary body of your choice and experience the 3-D images of the wonders found there.
The Geology Tour allows you to compare and contrast similar geologic features (for example, volcanos, craters, faults, etc.) as they exist on different planetary bodies.
For a demonstration of either of these two tours, and a full explanation of how to navigate among images, click on one of the following icons:
Remember that at any time during your tour, clicking on your browser's Back button will return you to the previous page.
LPI Contribution No. 925
The Lunar and Planetary Institute is operated by the Universities Space Research Association under contract number NASW-4574 with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.