MARTIAN SKY COLOR CONTROVERSY
Disinformation about Martian sky color apparently started with an order by NASA Administrator Dr. James Fletcher when Viking 1 touched down. Updated 2/4/2018.
"What Gil Levin, Ron and Patricia Straat did not know (even to this writing) is that the order to change the colors came directly from the NASA Administrator himself, Dr. James Fletcher. Months later, Gil Levin sought out the JPL Viking Imaging Team technician who actually made the changes and asked why it was done. The technician responded that he had instructions from the Viking Imaging Team that the Mars sky and landscape should be red and went around to all the monitors ‘tweaking’ them to make it so. Gil Levin said, ‘The new settings showed the American flag (painted on the Landers – below as having purple stripes. The technician said that the Mars atmosphere made the flag appear that way [emphasis added].’"
FIGURES 1 AND 2 ABOVE: (1) THE CONTROVERSY STARTS WITH HOW OLD GLORY IS DEPICTED. Figure 2 - Dr, Fletcher seen with President Nixon. Fletcher began 36 years of disinformation by ordering the sky color seen at Viking 1 altered from blue to reddish. Figure 3 Below: Look what happens to our sky color at 83,600 feet (with pressure ~11.3 mbar)..
Account of the Start of the Martian Sky Color Controversy (as portrayed on pages 39-40 of DEAD MAR, DYING EARTH by Dr. John Brandenburg):
The following day (sol 2 for Viking 1) was equally auspicious for JPL when the first color images were received. As a crowd surrounded the monitors, the colors of the Martian landscape displayed themselves like an Arizona picture postcard: bright sunlight, blue sky flecked with hints of high clouds, reddish-brown soil and gray rocks. The technicians, scientists and media representatives were spellbound. It looked just like home – at least it looked very familiar to anyone who had seen the desert regions in the southwest of the United States. Who would have imagined that our first look at another world would appear so earthly? An American flag was proudly emblazoned on a domed compartment of the spacecraft which figured prominently in the scene. Never had its red, white, and blue colors glowed so brightly as they did beneath the Martian sky that day. For the first time humans beheld the sky of a planet different from their own – and it was a reassuring deep blue.
Amid the celebration, a very perplexed, newly graduated high school student named Ron Levin sat at a console at JPL. For over two hours Ron watched with the others as color images came in. Ron, the son of Dr. Gilbert Levin, a scientist connected with one of the tests aboard the lander, was fascinated. Like the rest of us, Ron saw the “blue sky” of Mars in the first color image. Unlike us, Ron also saw images of rocks with greenish patches on them (see Figure 2 below). While he watched, a Viking imaging team technician adjusted the color controls on every monitor in the laboratory, increasing the red channel so that the sky lost its blue tint and the color of the rocks shifted from an earthly reddish-brown to an unearthly, deep rusty-red hue. When Ron attempted to adjust the monitors back to the original settings, he was told he’d be ejected from JPL if he persisted. To this day, Ron, now Dr. Ron Levin, physicist, makes it clear that, in his considerable estimation, there was no scientific justification for the adjustment in color. He speculates that the color was changed primarily because the planetary scientists took a dim view of the greenish patches on the rocks, which might have suggested to the public that some primitive form of plant life might be growing right on the surface of Mars. The sky of Mars has been red ever since. (Update of February 26, 2015 - Finally, after 36 years of disinformation with Viking 1, Viking 2, Mars Pathfinder, MER Spirit Rover, MER Opportunity Rover, and Phoenix; with Mars Science Laboratory we are allowed to see that the Martian sky is blue).
Note: The picture of the green patches is taken from an important article by Gil Levin at http://gillevin.com/Mars/Reprint87-color-files/colorReprint87.htm.