By Caleb Scharf
Ok, so every so often something comes along that just blows away everything you’ve seen before. This is one of those things. Soon after Curiosity made landfall we got to see a glimpse of a low-resolution and highly compressed time-lapse video of the descent, showing the heat-shield fall away and a precipitous drop to the martian surface. It was very cool.
Now this is very, very, very cool. Visual effects dab-hand, Daniel Luke Fitch, has used the more recently available HD frames of the descent to make this jaw-dropping movie. As he explains, it runs at 15 frames a second, which represents a speed-up of real events by 3 times. So the actual descent was not quite as ferocious, but it was pretty darn close.
The fidelity is astonishing. Early on, at around the 2-3 second mark, and again at 0:08 you can see the diffuse glow of what I think must be atmospheric and dust reflection of sunlight. The final drop happens at around 0:33, it’s pretty messy, one can only presume that without the sky crane it would’ve been even more so.