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).

Spirit Sol 611

Spirit Sol 611 Pancam False-Color
More false color from Spirit Sol 611.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Spirit Sol 611 Pancam False-Color

Spirit Sol 611 Pancam False-Color
Some false-color from Sol 611 while Spirit was parked at "Cliffhanger Drift".

Spirit Sol 592-597 Inner Basin Stereo Imaging Pan 2
In other news, the L257 pan of the Inner Basin appears to be completely down now. Here is a view toward "Home Plate".

Spirit Sol 592-597 Inner Basin Stereo Imaging Pan 2
Double-wide view.

Spirit Sol 612

Spirit Sol 612
Spirit moved on Sol 612. The wheel marks on the drift that Spirit scuffed and analyzed for several sols are visible.

Spirit Sol 612
Spirit's next destination is the "true summit" area, where she will check out some rock outcrops and take in the view to the north and east down Husband Hill. Funny how this area looks like an observation platform.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Monday, September 19, 2005

Opportunity Sol 588 - Erebus from a Distance

Opportunity Sol 588 - Erebus from a Distance
Getting closer...
Anaglyph version
Anaglyph closeup

Done-ness

A few of you may want to know that I am taking a break from programming Midnight Mars Browser, and this break will probably be permanent. I've spent much of my personal time for the last 8 months or more working on this program, and, much to my own surprise, I feel I've accomplished 90 percent of what I wanted to accomplish with it. It feels like it's time to move on. Needless to say, I'll probably do the occassional bug fix as circumstances require. But there won't be any major new features.

However, please understand that I will still be updating the metadata for the program - the metadata being the downloaded definitions that allow MMB to display panoramas, amongst other things. I'm still going to be using the program to view the MER imagery as long as the rovers are still sending back pictures - that's what the program is for - so I'll keep the definitions up to date and post the most striking images here on the website. Doing that is a lot more fun than the actual programming was anyway.

New Movies

The movies page has been updated:

Spirit Sol 605 Navigation (Quicktime 945K) shows the Navcam navigation images as Spirit drove up to the summit drift; a nice little dust devil can be seen on the plains in the background. This movie gives a sense of how slowly the rover was actually moving: the images here are displayed one per second, but they were actually taken once every two or three minutes.

Spirit Sol 605 Forward Hazcam shows the Forward Hazcam images as Spirit scuffs the drift and looks at it with instruments on the IDD arm.

My favorite, Opportunity Purgatory to Erebus Navigation (Quicktime 7.84MB) shows Opportunity's navigation images as it drives away from Purgatory Dune and heads south, then east, then south on its way to Erebus Crater. This movie is large, and it will also have to be updated as time goes by: Opportunity hasn't arrived at Erebus yet, and probably more navigation images have been taken but haven't been downloaded to Earth.

UPDATE Added one more: Spirit Hazcam from Larry's Lookout to Husband Hill Summit (Quicktime 18.4MB) documents Spirit's trek from Larry's Lookout (or therabouts) around Husband Hill and up to the summit, from Sol 503 to 583. The movie includes both forward and rear hazcam images since the rover sometimes drives forwards and sometimes backwards.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Spirit Sol 606 - Sunset Shadows

Spirit Sol 606 - Sunset Shadows
The two false-color Pancam images in the center were taken at around 5:20 local Mars time on Spirit Sol 606, when the sun was low in the west.

Spirit Sol 606 - Sunset Shadows Context
Context for the above.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Spirit Sol 605 - Drift Heaven

Spirit Sol 605 - Drift Heaven
Spirit has driven up onto a drift on the summit. According to Steve Squyres' latest Mission Update, Spirit will be examining a drift and later checking out an outcrop near the true summit, which is probably visible here on the right.

Spirit Sol 592-596 - Inner Basin Pan Continued
Pieces of the color pan of the Inner Basin continue to arrive.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Spirit Sol 603 - Back on Top

Spirit Sol 603
Closeup of the drifts at the summit.

Spirit Sol 603 - Back on Top
Spirit has moved back to the high point of the summit.

Spirit Sol 603 Closeup
Closeup of Pancam images.

Opportunity Sol 582

Opportunity Sol 582
Opportunity is driving south.

Opportunity Sol 582
Closeup of Sol 582's Pancam images. Erebus is starting to show more detail. (Click "All Sizes" on the Flickr image page to see the large and full-size versions.)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Spirit Sol 601 - Local Color, Broken Rocks

Spirit Sol 601 - Local Color
Pancam false-color images on Navcam context. The viewing angle is 45ยบ downward.

Spirit Sol 601 - Broken Rocks
Broken rocks, Spirit Sol 601 pancam false-color closeup.

Spirit Sol 594 Pancam False-Color Context
These Spirit Sol 594 Pancam images came down today. They are shown here in MMB adjusted false-color.

Spirit Sol 594 Pancam False-Color Closeup
Closeup of the above.

Opportunity Sol 580 - View from "Above"

1_6000_580_4

Opportunity Sol 580 - Erebus Highway?

Opportunity Sol 580
Looks like Oppy decided to stop zig-zagging and just go for it.

Opportunity Sol 580
No official confirmation, but surely this is the "Erebus Highway"? This is the view to the south.

Opportunity Sol 580
Pancam view to the south.

Exploratorium seems to be working, at least for Opportunity images. The JPL raw images site is still showing all sols as "new" (see below).

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Spirit Sol 600 - Rover Crossing

Spirit Sol 600 - Rover Crossing
Spirit took these navcam images of her own tracks on Sol 600.

Spirit Sol 600 - Back Up the Hill
This is the Pancam view back up the short distance to the summit. (The reports suggest that we're still on the summit, but obviously we're not at the very top at the moment.)

Unfortunately both the Exploratorium and JPL raw image sites seem to be having problems right now. On the JPL site, currently all of the Spirit sols and raw images are marked as new. This is a problem for MMB, as with all the sols marked as new, the program will try to update all of the images on an auto-update. That's a lot of images - 58,984 to be exact, according to the JPL site. I'm afraid the best thing to do at the moment is turn auto-update off until somebody fixes the JPL raw image site. I'll post a message here whenever it seems that that's happened.

On Exploratorium, I noticed that the Spirit Sol 600 images that made it to the JPL site have not been posted there. This probably means that Exploratorium is not able to retrieve images from JPL at the moment. So I'd guess manually updating from Exploratorium won't work either, for awhile. I downloaded these Spirit Sol 600 images in MMB by selecting "Advanced Update Images" and choosing to download images from Spirit Sol 600 from JPL.

I hope this will get cleared up soon and we'll see new images (and only new images) coming down.

P.S. I have finally update the Sol Info metadata, bringing it up to date. I'll try to keep this updated from now on. I also uploaded a few new Spirit navcam pans, slowly working my way back to Sol 360. (Sol 360 is currently the latest sol for which the image data is available on the PDS. After Sol 360, all the MMB pans have to be figured out by adjusting the images manually until they line up.)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Version 1.3.4

Version 1.3.4 makes updates slightly more robust. I've been noticing some strange behavior at the JPL raw images site in the last couple days; amongst other things, new index files may have been posted with earlier modification times than previous versions, which MMB wasn't handling well. This update downloads index files if they have an earlier modification time or a later modification time.

Right now there are a lot of sols marked "NEW" on the navcam section of the Spirit raw images page at the JPL site, and apparantly there were even more previously. I don't know exactly why that is. I haven't been seeing a lot of actual new images. This may cause some long downloads if you are just starting using the program. You can always stop the update and manually update from Exploratorium using the commands in the Update menu. Hopefully the situation at the JPL raw images site will get cleared up before too long.

Download the latest version of Midnight Mars Browser

Friday, September 09, 2005

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Spirit Sol 598 First Navcams

Spirit Sol 598
Spirit has driven back west a bit to the point where she came down from the summit. This is probably the position (or close to it?) where she will take the second pancam mosaic of the "Inner Basin" area, this time using multiple filters. Two mosaics are being taken of the area from different locations to perform long baseline stereo imaging; this will be used to plan Spirit's eventual descent down the hill, according to Steve Squyres in an interview with Doug Ellison. One long-range goal is to visit "Home Plate" (not visible in this image).

Spirit Sol 598
A view back up the hill.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Opportunity Sol 575 ...

Opportunity Sol 575 ...
Not much going on, so here is a view toward Erebus.

Thumbnail Developments

It's now clear that we're getting thumbnail images on Exploratorium before the full images have come down. So you can preview what images have been taken, before the full versions have been downlinked to Earth - just like mission control. Amazing! Just go into the Slideshow Image Criteria dialog and check "Other" image types if you want to see them.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Opportunity Sol 576 - Zig-Zagging Along

Opportunity Sol 576 - Zig-Zagging Along
Opportunity is making slow progress zig-zagging between the drifts. (The drifts don't look that intimidating to me, but I guess it's better safe than sorry.)

Edit: On second thought, looking at some of the drifts in 3D just now, maybe it's best that I'm not driving...

Spirit Sol 596 - Pancam False-Color Context

Spirit Sol 596 Pancam False-Color Context
A couple false-color pancam images from Sol 596, overlayed on the navcam view.

Spirit Sol 591 - Rugged Terrain

Spirit Sol 591 - Rugged Terrain
Pancam images from Spirit Sol 591 continue to trickle in. The latest fill in the view to the southwest.

Version 1.3.3

Midnight Mars Browser version 1.3.3 makes it the default to ignore image thumbnails and "other" product types in Slideshow. Exploratorium is suddenly including thumbnail images and other strange types, which usually (but not always) just get in the way. 1.3.3 also fixes image generation to avoid problems that might occur since more obscure image types are showing up. A bug in metadata authoring is fixed.

Download the latest version of Midnight Mars Browser

Updates & Thumbnails

Midnight Mars Browser metadata will be updated later tonight with today's images, and I'll post any new screenshots at that time. In general from now on I will be updating in the mornings and evenings Central Standard Time, just FYI.

I've noticed that thumbnail images are now getting posted on Exploratorium... Presumably there was some change either at Exploratorium or, more likely, on the JPL side where these are showing up now. This would be neat, except we're not actually seeing them until the regular images are available anyway, which makes the thumbnails a rather useless and annoying distraction. If I have time tonight I'll post a new version of MMB which ignores the downloaded thumbnail images by default. In the meantime, you can get rid of the thumbnails in Slideshow by selecting "Adjust Image Criteria" and deselecting the "Other" checkbox under Image Types.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Version 1.3.2

Version 1.3.2 fixes a problem with date localization where Exploratorium updates would not work in some locales. Also, metadata updates are improved to reduce the amount of image regeneration.

Download the latest version of Midnight Mars Browser

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Spirit Sol 591 - Home Plate View

Spirit Sol 591 - Home Plate View
The view toward "Home Plate" on Spirit Sol 591. Anaglyph version.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

New Screenshots

The Screenshots section has been updated.

A big welcome to Slashdot and Linkswarm readers. Over 800 visits today, mostly from one comment on Slashdot. Neat. Check out the new screenshots and don't forget to donate to the Red Cross.

Version 1.3.1

Midnight Mars Browser 1.3.1 is now available. Here's what's new:

- Support for adjusting brightness of raw images and color balance for false-color images based on metadata.
- Faster metadata downloads for first-time users. Metadata is downloaded in a "package" file if the {mmbhomedir}/metadata/downloaded directory does not exist yet.
- Metadata is now updated before image updates, so that images can be generated using updated metadata.
- To reduce menu clutter, some of the more advanced commands, mainly those used for authoring metadata, are now invisible until you enable them. To enable the advanced options, open the Preferences dialog and check the "Advanced mode" checkbox, then restart the program.
- "Half-resolution", "thumbnail resolution" commands in Panorama.
- Pancam raw image filter selection in Panorama selection dialog.
- Support for fixing false-color image mismatches through metadata.
- Miscellaneous bug fixes, small feature additions.
- Made the program Donationware, donations to go to the American Red Cross.

And a reminder, 1.3.0 added support for Radiometrically Calibrated Color Images by Daniel Crotty:

Opportunity Sol 96-100 - An Early View of Endurance Crater

Spirit Sol 317-325 Calibrated Color Panorama

Download the latest version of Midnight Mars Browser