This painting depicts the first overwintering at the Martian poles. It is significant as the first painting to show the scene of an overwintering at the Martian polar regions.
Because of the tilt of Mars, its polar regions, like the arctic and Antarctic on Earth, experience periods of complete darkness. Because the Martian year is much longer than the Earth year, at the geographical poles this polar winter lasts almost a whole Earth year. During the Martian polar winter carbon dioxide snow falls and it can be up to two meters thick at the Poles and nearly a meter thick around the edge of the Martian north pole.
In this image we see two explorers returning to base after a challenging overwintering foray. Perhaps they have been collecting samples for scientific analysis. Maybe they have been to collect some of the winter snow for scientific analysis. Or perhaps it was just the need to get out of the station – a daring midwinter expedition. Outside the base another explorer waits for them on skidoo.
As we look across the polar plain we see light shinning out of the station and illuminating the fluttering carbon dioxide snow that is settling around the station.
Marilyn Flynn, the artist, says of this painting ‘I was trying to keep that lonely outpost-in-dark-of-winter feel…. I also personally have a vivid memory from when I was a child of waiting outside my grandmother’s house on a very quiet, dark street corner in winter with falling snow being illuminated by a single streetlight, which I was trying to incorporate into the picture where the snow sparkles in the light from the habitat windows’.
Copyright status : Marilyn Flynn/Earth and Space Foundation 2002
About the Artist
Marilynn Flynn is one of the few astronomical artists who can truly be called a Space Artist. Several pieces of her artwork have been launched into space. Her acrylic painting “Cosmic Cauldron” orbited Earth for several months on board the Mir Space Station as part of Ars Ad Astra, the first art exhibit in orbit.
A professional astronomical artist for over 20 years, she combines her artistic talents with a lifelong interest in space exploration. Mars has always been a favourite subject, as she has wanted to leave Earth for the Red Planet since she was a child. The fantastic geology, desert-like terrains, swirling polar ice caps and the unusual weather of Mars have provided inspiration for many paintings. She is particularly interested in volcanic features on other planets, and Mars provides plenty of subject matter in that field. As a natural extension of her own life-long desire to settle on Mars, she frequently depicts people living, working and exploring Mars in her landscape paintings.
Ideas for her Mars paintings may come from various sources. A new discovery by scientists, a photo of some interesting geologic feature taken by a spacecraft, or simply visualizing a scene which she wishes were actually happening. Or she may find inspiration during field trips on Earth, where she photographs and sketches landscapes which are analogs to the Martian terrain. These pictures are then used as a basis for her Martian landscapes. She also creates paintings on her computer, using USGS digital elevation maps of Mars to produce existent landscapes in artworks depicting people exploring particular locations on the Martian frontier.
All images in the Foundation’s collection are copyright to the artists or the Foundation. Reproduction of these images is not allowed without permission (in some cases permission for reproduction can be obtained directly from the artists who maintain reproduction copyright). These images are low resolution versions of the originals.