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...)