Friday, December 30, 2005

El Dorado


2_AL00_706_4
Originally uploaded by marscat.
Some nice Pancam false-color images are now coming in of "El Dorado". I happen to be home today so the MMB pan metadata has been updated with the new images.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Things to Come in 2006 (Maybe)


2_AKSR_705_2
Originally uploaded by marscat.
As far as MMB programming goes, I'm officially "retired" - not that I was ever "hired" - but there are still some things I'd like to get done in 2006, if I can find the time.

One of the smaller things to do is to make it easier to update the metadata on this end. That might result in timelier metadata updates on your end, plus make my life easier.

One other, larger, task would be to rewrite the program as an Eclipse Rich Client Platform (RCP) application. This might allow me to give the program a much nicer user interface. Reasons why this might actually get done include the fact that I need to be learning Eclipse plugin and RCP programming anyway, and this would give me another area to develop my "skillz".

Another thing I'd like to do is get rid of some of the program's remaining memory leaks and improve the performance of the Panorama feature (especially switching between panoramas). Unfortunately no one bought me JProfiler for Christmas. :(

Anyway, those are things I'd kind of "like" to do with the program - whether they actually get done or not depend on whether I find time and focus in the New Year. We'll see what happens.

To all twenty or so of you who read this blog: Happy New Year (Soon)!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Comanche Tidbits


2_AKFF_697_1
Originally uploaded by marscat.
New Mission Update by Steve Squyres at the Athena site. Summary: Similar to the other rocks around here, Comanche is relatively unaltered and has lots of olivine, but it otherwise appears to have a different composition from anything so far, so it may be yet another new Gusev rock type. Next Spirit target is El Dorado; expect lots of driving. Oppy, on the other hand, won't be going anywhere for awhile as they are still figuring out how to safely stow the arm. "64KC" now probably the best-imaged site on the planet. :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

"Comanche" Up Close and Personal


2P188061742ESFAKE1P2584l257
Originally uploaded by marscat.
Some false-color closeups of "Comanche" now coming in...

I couldn't begin to speculate what we are looking at, but it's interesting to me that the rock is broken up, and appears to be much darker than the bedrock beneath it. I've been puzzling over this one for a while, in my clueless non-geologist kind of way. I hope somebody more knowledgable throws some commentary out there soon... This just looks like a rock that is trying to tell us something new.

Friday, December 16, 2005

"Comanche"


2_AKE1_694_3
Originally uploaded by marscat.
Spirit is on final approach to "Comanche", seen here.

Meanwhile, Opporunity's arm is working again, mostly, which is great news. See the latest Mission Report by Steve Sqyures", here.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Opportunity's Shadow


1P187593770EFF64KCP2425l247
Originally uploaded by marscat.
Opportunity took this image of her shadow on Sol 669. Pancam false-color.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Opportunity Hits a Snag

Planterary Society Blog article (with a MMB screenshot)

Here's hoping the rover operators can figure out a way to get the arm working again. Good luck to them and Opportunity.

If not, well... there are worse things to have than a mobile camera platform with a working MiniTES on a still largely unexplored planet. But let's not go there yet.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Inner Basin


2_AJQV_671_7
Originally uploaded by marscat.
Spirit is spending the weekend investigating a rock outcrop and returning this magnificent panorama of the Inner Basin. I've created the brightness-adjustment metadata so this is what you'll see in the Midnight Mars Browser program. There are a bunch of other images on the Flickr page.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Happy Birthsol, Spirit!

Spirit Rover has now survived a complete Martian year (almost two Earth years!) at Gusev Crater on Mars. Congratulations to Spirit and the entire MER team!

Here are some great synthetic images of Spirit on Mars:





Here is the official JPL website feature.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Pictures Site Back Up

I'm going to try posting images to the pictures site again, and keep this site for software updates.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Spirit Sol 651-653

Spirit Sol 651-653

A view of Lower Haskin Ridge from Spirit Sol 651-653. The depression where Spirit is currently parked as of Sol 656 is at center bottom.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Spirit Sol 651 False-Color

Spirit Sol 651

Pancam false-color is being returned from Spirit Sol 651. Meanwhile Spirit has reached Lower Haskin Ridge, completing the first part of her descent from the Husband Hill summit.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Version 1.4.0

Midnight Mars Browser version 1.4.0 has been posted. This version features some performance enhancements, particularly for the Slideshow feature. Also, for the first time I am releasing the program source code under the GNU General Public License. A few people have expressed an interest in seeing the source code for learning purposes; a few people may be interested in actually extending the program. Personally, I'd like to see a Midnight Saturn Browser, and I don't have time to do it myself.

Download the latest version of Midnight Mars Browser

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Opportunity Sol 631: Erebus West

1_63[[_631_3

Back on "land". And the tall drifts are beautiful:

1_63[[_631_1

Fortunately we don't have to drive over them.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Opportunity Sol 630 - Approaching Erebus West End

Opportunity Sol 630 - Approaching Erebus West End

Approaching Erebus west end. No obvious signs of dust storms to be seen.

Anaglyph version

Spirit Sol 649-650: Leaving Kansas

Spirit Sol 649

Spirit has finished up with "Kansas" and is continuing downhill.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Exploratorium Mega-Posting

No doubt because of their recent server outage, Exploratorium has posted a huge number (thousands) of old Spirit images on October 31. MMB users who haven't previously downloaded all the images should just keep auto-update off for a day or two more and then choose "Reset Last Download Time..." from the Update menu to avoid downloading all these images. Sorry, not much I can do about it at this point.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Calibrated Color Posted for Sols 360-450

2_A800_3

2_A800_2

Daniel Crotty's calibrated color images for Sols 360-450 have been posted at his site. You can download these using MMB and view them in the Panorama feature. MMB Pan metadata has been updated again to take the new images into account. Above is the view from "Larry's Lookout" (Spirit Sol 409-414).

PDS Update: Sols 360-450



PDS-based MMB panorama definitions for Sols 360-450 have been posted. Since I fixed some bugs in the part of MMB that reads PDS metadata and generates MMB panorama definitions, I've updated the definitions for Sols 1-360 as well. (A trick to download all the new definitions faster for big updates like this is to delete your MMBHome/metadata/downloaded directory and then do a metadata update.)

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Dust Storm

news update

Opportunity Sol 626: Clear Shot!

Opportunity Sol 626: Clear Shot!<br />

Opportunity has made substantial progress westward through the difficult terrain, and now appears to have a clear path ahead of her. The Pancam frames here are to the south back toward the western end of Erebus crater. The path west also appears fairly clear, but I'm guessing the path South looks too good to pass up.

My internet access has been restored, so pan definitions from the new PDS release and the new MMB version 1.3.8 should be up before too long.

Exploratorium is Up (Maybe); My Internet Access is Down (Definitely)

My primary internet access has been down for a few days now. Posting will be light until it's back up. However stick around, there's a bunch of new stuff coming soon including pan metadata derived from the latest PDS release, new Daniel Crotty true-color images, and version 1.3.8 of the software. Plus I should be able to catch up with what the rovers are doing this weekend.

Also, it looks like Exploratorium is back up, although I haven't seen new images posted there yet.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Back to Opportunity Sol 615

Back to Opportunity Sol 615

A couple new Pancam false-color frames form Opportunity Sol 615. Exploratorium remains down.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Exploratorium is Down

Exploratorium appears to be down. MMB users will need to use the "Update Latest from JPL" option under the "Update" menu, instead of doing automatic updates, until Exploratorium is back up. I'll fix this in a future version - automatic updates should be able to just go on to JPL when Exploratorium is down.

In other news, a new minor release is coming up, with some nice performance improvements to the Slideshow feature. I've also 80% decided to go the GPL open source route, but we'll see.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Spirit Sol 642-643

Spirit Sol 642

Is it really Spirit Sol 643 already? Spirit is checking out the light-colored rock unit shown here in two Pancam false-color images. Dark drift fields are visible on the distance at top of frame.

Opportunity - Berryless?

Opportunity Sol 617 - Berryless?

The Oct. 24 Mission Update by Steve Squyres mentions that some of the bedrock seen recently appears to be completely without blueberries. It hadn't registered with me before, but some of the bedrock does indeed appear berryless. It's also scultped into lovely shapes. The Pancam false-color and navcam context mosaic above is from Opportunity Sol 618.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Opportunity Sol 619

Opportunity Sol 619
Still dodging the drifts. In the background are the large drifts north of Erebus.

Spirit Sol 639

Spirit Sol 639
Looking back up the hill.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Spirit Sol 639 - Interesting Striations?

Spirit Sol 639

Likewise, Spirit has made several drives. There are what appear to be interesting striations and bedrock on the ridge. Also, it's more obvious in the anaglyphs, but Spirit seems to be approaching a bit of a drop-off. Good luck, Spirit. Drive carefully.

Opportunity Sol 618

Opportunity Sol 618
Updates have resume and Opportunity has driven quite a bit west and north (there are several new panoramas posted). This is the current view west. It looks pretty flat; one wonders if it's flat enough to just drive, or if we'll keep dodging the drifts.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

(Flashback) Opportunity Sol 421

Since Exploratorium doesn't seem to be updating, here's a flashback to almost 200 Martian Days ago, when Opportunity was rapidly travelling south after leaving Endurance crater...

(Flashback) Opportunity Sol 421 - Viking Crater

(Flashback) Opportunity Sol 421 - Viking Crater

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Opportunity Sol 616

Opportunity Sol 616
The large drifts along the north rim of Erebus, now immediately south.

Opportunity Sol 616
The way west seems fairly clear for now.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Opportunity Sol 615

Opportunity on the road again:

Opportunity Sol 615

Opportunity Sol 615

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Spirit Sol 635 - Dark Drifts

Spirit Sol 635
Dark drifts northeast of Husband Hill. It looks like Spirit has begun roving toward Haskin Ridge (see the October 4 Mission Update by Steve Squyres).

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Spirit "Everest Pan" Complete

Spirit Sol 619-622 -

Spirit's "Everest Pan" is now complete. I have adjusted the brightness of the L257 Pancam frames for Midnight Mars Browser. The color balance is obviously not perfect (I'm guestimating brightness adjustments for many individual frames), but I'll say it's better than no adjustment at all.

Opportunity Sol 608 - Six Wheelin' (Again)!

Opportunity Sol 608 - Six Wheelin' (Again)!
Tracks where Opportunity stopped mid-drift, then proceeded south after backing out.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Version 1.3.7

Midnight Mars Browser version 1.3.7 fixes a possible performance issue with the Slideshow feature and changes the order in the Panorama selection dialog so that the most recent panoramas appear at the top of the list. Also, when panoramas are downloaded in a metadata update they appear with "NEW" or "UPDATED" next to them in the Panorama selection dialog until they are viewed.

Download the latest version of Midnight Mars Browser

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Spirit Sol 625


Spirit Sol 625
Originally uploaded by marscat.
Spirit is lining up to take a look at "Hillary", and also has a nice view its own tracks on the summit, which are covered by some Pancam images. MMB metadata has been updated.

Meanwhile, Opportunity has freed itself from the drift with little or no fuss, so the anti-getting-stuck-in-drifts software must be working well. There aren't enough new navcam images to do a new panorama yet, but there are navcam subframe images of rover wheels that make a nice little slideshow movie, similar to what we saw at Purgatory but with much less being stuck.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

New Minor Revision Coming

P.S. I've got a minor revision of the software in the pipeline. The main change is a performance enhancement for the Slideshow feature which seems to help on Mac OS X; it might improve performance on other platforms as well. The new version will see the light of day as soon as I have time to package it up, probably this weekend.

Down from the Summit

New Mission Update by Steve Squyres. Spirit has come down from the true summit and will check out a rock called "Hillary" before starting her descent down the east side of Husband Hill. Opportunity is finding it slow going but they want to get quickly past Erebus and on to Victoria Crater if possible.

MMB Metadata will be updated later tonight.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Opportunity Sol 603

Opportunity drove a bit south on Sol 603, and now is resting right on a drift. The wheels appear to have dug in just a bit, so I hope this is not an "incident". The drift does not seem as intimidating as the one that came to be named Purgatory after Oppy was stuck there for over a month.

All of the L7 Pancam frames from Spirit's "Everest" Pan (Sol 619- ) are down and more false color has arrived. I'll have a go at adjusting the brightness/color balance of the frames when I have more time and energy; it's actually quite a bit of work for these 360ยบ panoramas. The image at right shows a part of Thyra Crater (I think) on the western horizon.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Hmmm

Don't know if I'll continue the Image of the Day page... odds are, probably not. It's time consuming, and reaction has been underwhelming (listen and you can hear the crickets chirping...) Instead, maybe I'll just post updates here on what's going on. If you actually want to see rover panoramas, you can see them better in Midnight Mars Browser than looking at any screenshot. That's what MMB is for. If you want downloadable jpeg panoramas rather than virtual reality, check out unmannedspaceflight.com.

The Opportunity Sol 592-596 pan seems to be complete (Erebus from South Shetland). The L7 images of Spirit's "Everest Pan", a full 360 degree pan from the true summit of Husband Hill, appear to be mostly down; more false color will follow soon, probably.

Opportunity's Sol 601 navcam pan and pancam images are down. There are some drifts immediately west; I'll be interested to see if Oppy goes over them or around them.

(When I mention images are "down", I generally mean both that they have shown up on one of the raw images pages and that I have incorporated them into the Midnight Mars Browser metadata for VR panoramas.)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Midnight Mars Picture of the Day

For fun, I am spinning off a separate site, Midnight Mars Picture of the Day, where I can post large versions of the images I've been posting here. Please check it out. The formatting I'll improve later.

Going forward, then, this weblog will just note metadata updates and any software updates. Pictures will be for the other weblog. This should help the overall organization of this site.

Spirit Sol 618

Assuming anyone's paying attention, you'll probably notice that I forgot to set the "North" direction in the latest Spirit panorama, Sol 618. I'll get to it this evening.

In the meantime, here's another screenshot:

Spirit Sol 618

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Spirit Sol 617

Spirit Sol 617
Pancam images looking from the true summit back down to Larry's Lookout.

Spirit Sol 617
Spirit's rover tracks are visible in this closeup.

Version 1.3.6

Midnight Mars Browser 1.3.6 fixes a problem with 1.3.5 where panoramas would load slowly on some machines. In addition, the command keys for next and previous panorama have been changed to "N" and "P".

Here again is the new documentation from 1.3.5:

View Orientation

The "View orientation" popup menu in the Panorama selection dialog allows you to specify whether the panorama will be viewed in rover-relative orientation or ground-relative orientation. In rover-relative orientation, 0 degrees azimuth 0 degrees elevation is always the view straight forward from the rover. In ground-relative orientation, 0 degrees azimuth is facing North in the panorama, 180 degrees is facing South, etc. For panoramas where rover orientation data is publicly available (currently sols 1-360), ground-relative orientation also corrects for rover tilt so that the horizon appears level. For sols where the data is not yet available, "north" orientation is estimated in the metadata and rover tilt is not corrected.

Start Resolution

The "Start resolution" popup menu in the Panorama selection dialog allows you to specify whether the panorama images will automatically be loaded in full resolution or half resolution after the thumbnails are loaded. As loading images in full resolution is time- and memory-intensive, thumbnails are always loaded first. The best overall compromise for browsing is probably "Navcam full", which automatically loads the Navcam images (which cover a larger area) in full resolution but does not automatically load the Pancam images. You can always press "F" or select the "Full Resolution" menu option to load all images in full resolution.

Panorama Mouse Movement

Panorama mouse control is meant to be similar to Quicktime VR. When you drag the mouse in the panorama view window, movement is continuous in the direction that you drag the mouse until you release the mouse button. Unlike Quicktime VR, you can drag up and down using the right mouse button to zoom in and out in the panorama. Hold down the alt/option key on the Macintosh and drag up and down for the same effect.

Download the latest version of Midnight Mars Browser

Back to 1.3.4

I've taken down version 1.3.5 at it seems to have a problem with panoramas loading very slowly on Windows. I'll have to figure out what's going on; it may take awhile. In the meantime version 1.3.4 is back up.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Version 1.3.5

NOTE: Version 1.3.5 has been taken down temporarily because it had some problems loading panoramas. This should be fixed in the next day or two and version 1.3.6 will be posted.

Midnight Mars Browser version 1.3.5 features significant improvements to the Panorama feature. The biggest change is the new "View Orientation" popup menu in the Panorama selection dialog, which allows you to view panoramas in ground-relative as well as rover-relative orientation. As mentioned earlier, this makes it possible to switch from panorama to panorama while facing the same direction relative to the ground, say north, which makes it much easier to get a sense of the rover's environment. For panoramas where the PDS data is available, ground-relative mode also compensates for rover tilt so that the horizon appears level. There are also improvements to panorama loading and mouse control. Here are the relevant new sections from the README file:

View Orientation

The "View orientation" popup menu in the Panorama selection dialog allows you to specify whether the panorama will be viewed in rover-relative orientation or ground-relative orientation. In rover-relative orientation, 0 degrees azimuth 0 degrees elevation is always the view straight forward from the rover. In ground-relative orientation, 0 degrees azimuth is facing North in the panorama, 180 degrees is facing South, etc. For panoramas where rover orientation data is publicly available (currently sols 1-360), ground-relative orientation also corrects for rover tilt so that the horizon appears level. For sols where the data is not yet available, "north" orientation is estimated in the metadata and rover tilt is not corrected.

Start Resolution

The "Start resolution" popup menu in the Panorama selection dialog allows you to specify whether the panorama images will automatically be loaded in full resolution or half resolution after the thumbnails are loaded. As loading images in full resolution is time- and memory-intensive, thumbnails are always loaded first. The best overall compromise for browsing is probably "Navcam full", which automatically loads the Navcam images (which cover a larger area) in full resolution but does not automatically load the Pancam images. You can always press "F" or select the "Full Resolution" menu option to load all images in full resolution.

Panorama Mouse Movement

Panorama mouse control is meant to be similar to Quicktime VR. When you drag the mouse in the panorama view window, movement is continuous in the direction that you drag the mouse until you release the mouse button. Unlike Quicktime VR, you can drag up and down using the right mouse button to zoom in and out in the panorama. Hold down the alt/option key on the Macintosh and drag up and down for the same effect.

Download the latest version of Midnight Mars Browser

(And yes, my vaction from Mars browser programming starts now...)

Spirit Sol 616 - At the Observation Platform, Continued

Spirit Sol 616
Tracks back to "Cliffhanger Drift".

Spirit Sol 612-615
This is the view south from a sol or two previous, in false-color.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Spirit Sol 616 - At the Observation Platform

Spirit Sol 616
Dust devils to the east.

Spirit Sol 616

Spirit Sol 616
The view north.

Spirit Sol 616
The view down into "Tennessee Valley".

Big Metadata Update

The big metadata update is complete and I hope I won't have to do that again for awhile. It may take awhile for MMB to download the new metadata files as every panorama definition has been updated with either the rover orientation (Sols 1 through 360) or my estimate of which direction is "north" (every panorama after Sol 360).

Back to posting new images tomorrow, and the new software version (see previous post) should available soon.

Missing Titles

If you're using the Panorama feature, you may notice that some of the panorama titles have been truncated. This is because I'm in the middle of a big metadata update in preparation for a new version of MMB. The new version handles panorama titles better (you'll need it to see the full titles again), and more importantly it allows you to view panoramas in either the rover or ground frame of reference. The ground frame of reference feature is nice because it allows you to stay facing the same direction (north, say) while switching from pan to pan, and for sols where data has been posted to the PDS, it also compensates for the rover tilt so the horizon appears level. The new version should be up in the next day or two. Yes, I know I said there weren't going to be any major software updates, but this was unfinished business.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Opportunity Sol 593 - Erebus from "South Shetland"

Opportunity Sol 593
Erebus Crater seen from "South Shetland" (see the Sept. 23 Steve Squyres Mission Update for details).