Deviation Actions

William-Black's avatar

A Sound of Thunder



Full Resolution Digital Print: $7.00
Orders can be placed at
See my profile page for details.

A Mars Settlement Lander descends over Valles Marineris. Point of view is approximately 1,418 miles down range from the landing target at Syria Planium.

The landing vehicle at this point is still nested within its protective aero-shell, descending east to west, traveling at high-mach, and in primary powered descent mode. Four externally mounted Gas Core Open-Cycle nuclear thermal rockets fire in unison, generating a combined 600 gigawatts with a resulting braking thrust of 12 million newtons.

Image is part of a future historical setting, more detail is found on my profile page under the heading Orion’s Arm Future History, A Synopsis. This image falls right at the start of the Mars settlement program. A Timeline Graph is to be found here: Timeline.

Update: 12/14/2014

Recent analysis of data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter indicates Candor Colles, a western portion of Mars' Candor Chasma, one of the largest canyons within the longest canyon system in the solar system, Valles Marineris, once held lakes, which filled with sediments. Shaking of the sediments by "marsquakes" related to faults in the region produced the hilly landforms of Candor Colles.

USGS Publication Page
USGS Map PDF (15 MB)
PIA19085: Simulated Flyover of Mars Canyon Map (Animation)

Terrain in the image is a “composed artistic interpretation,” originally composed in 2012, some of the interpretations of that time (see research notes below) are more firmly supported by this new work—planetary science is cool!

Vantage point I selected is from the floor of the Valles Marineris, near to the base of the southern canyon wall, at the junction of Melas and Coprates chasmata, east of the deepest part of the Valles Marineris system, an area of well defined layered deposits. Running east-west, along the southern wall in this area, there are portions of the floor that are higher than the rest of the floor, most likely left by the continued dropping of the other floor material, leaving higher blocks of terrain along with a few free-standing spires.

The floor of Melas Chasma is about 70% younger massive material that is thought to be volcanic ash whipped up by the wind into eolian features. It also contains rough floor material from the erosion of the canyon walls. Analysis of the layered deposits is divided: some interpretations suggest deposits which pre-date the Valles Marineris system, their appearance suggesting erosion and sedimentary processes later cut by the Valles Marineris system, or a succession of landslides, one over another, volcanic in origin, or it may be the bottom of a basin of either liquid or solid water ice suggesting that the peripheral canyons of the Valles Marineris system could have been at one time isolated lakes formed from erosional collapse.

Atmosphere is custom, designed to match against true color images from the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity.

Canyon floor is a Bryce generated fractal terrain with a custom modification of David Brinnen’s “Beach” material applied. Canyon walls are Tectonics Evolved Desolace, and Searing Mesa, distressed in Terrain Editor, native textures replaced by a custom modification of David Brinnen’s “Seashore” material.

Image composition in Bryce 6.3 final render and Pro material modifications in Bryce 7 Pro.

Mars Settlement Project Complete Sequence Image Links:

Final Preparations:

Right Before


Orion Nuclear Ground Launch

Terminus of an Arc

Entry, Descent, Landing:

Propulsion Module/Entry Vehicle Separation

Piercing the Veil

Flight Control

A Sound of Thunder

Cue The Pyrotechnics

Riding The Fire

Over Noctis Labyrinthus

Terminal Descent

Post Landing:

Martian Dusk
Image details
Image size
3360x1930px 828.72 KB
© 2013 - 2022 William-Black
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In
davidbrinnen's avatar
Good render, I picked this out off of google images.  Thanks for the mention!  A pleasant surprise.