Thursday, December 27, 2007

Metadata Vacation

Metadata updates will resume on January 2.

The rovers are moving so slowly these days, I'm guessing not much will happen for the next week anyway.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

2.0 Dev Release 10

This update to 2.0 sees some reorganization to make it easier and less confusing to browse images.

The "Locations" view has been replaced by a new "Time Intervals" view. Previously, MMB panoramas contained all the images from one location. This doesn't always work very well, since increasingly, the rovers are staying in one place for long periods of time, and images often overlap. So now, panoramas and slideshows are organized by "time intervals".

In the "Viewer Settings" there is a new "Time intervals" section with controls for how panoramas and slideshows are split up. The options are:

- "Split by location": Images are grouped by rover location.
- "Split by sol": Images are grouped by sol (day)
- "Split by elapse minutes": Images are grouped by time interval. A new time interval is created if there are more than X minutes between images.

Another change is that the "Images" view now shows images from the currently viewed time interval only. The selected time interval is displayed at the top of the view.

So for example, take Spirit's "McMurdo" pan, which was split over two different rover locations (technically; actually the rover did not move). You can use the new controls to browse, in panorama mode, each day's images separately. Or, you can view the images from each location separately. Or, you can now (for the first time in MMB) view the entire panorama, including both locations at once - by specifying the start sol (809) and the end sol (1009), and turning off all the "split by" options. Here's a view:

As usual, you can get the latest version by using the Update Software feature. If you update, you may see an "unable to restore all workbench views" dialog the first time you start up. This is because the Locations view no longer exists; just click "ok" and open the Time Intervals view using the Windows menu.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


What a great idea: Spirit and Opportunity '08!!! At last, a ticket I
can really get behind.

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, September 30, 2007

September 30 Planetary Society Mars Rover Update

Another great rover update by A.J.S Rayl at the Planetary Society:


Highlights: Teams hopes to have Spirit winter at Von Braun/Goddard
after investigating Home Plate. Opportunity will be at her present
location for some weeks, investigating the top of the bright layer
inside Victoria Crater. The bright layer actually has three distinct
layers, which will be named after influential sedimentologists and
stratigraphers, the top layer being named 'Steno'.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Version 2.0 Development Release 8

With the unofficial end of summer, comes the unofficial resumption of work on Midnight Mars Browser. My hope is to slowly add some more "polish" to the application, and finally get to an official "2.0" release.

Dev version 8 is a small step in that direction. I've upgraded the framework to Eclipse 3.3, which buys us a few nice features. In particular the popup views are very useful, once you've figured out how to use them.

I've also added some icons for the views. Right now these icons are "borrowed" from Eclipse and; I'll have to work on making some proper icons later.

Unfortunately the Update Software feature doesn't seem to be working for some reason, so if you want this one, you'll need to download it from here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Version 2.0 Development Release 7

I've posted the latest and greatest... If you are already using MMB 2.0 dev5 or later, you can just choose Help -> Update Software (be sure to let it run... it should have a progress indicator but does not yet). Otherwise, here.

Important note: You will need to update to this latest version for the panorama feature to work correctly. This is because the metadata has changed to support the latest features (namely, the rover motion counter 'overflow' issue is finally fixed for panorama mode - you're welcome).

A lot of work went into streamlining the panorama feature in this release. I think it now officially kicks the stuffing out of 1.x's panorama feature.

Finally: there are literally dozens of items left on the To-Do List, but work on it will probably slow down considerably over the summer.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Movies Gone

I had to take down the movies, as they were using up too much bandwidth.

Friday, May 04, 2007

76m drive on Opportunity Sol 1163

76m drive on Opportunity Sol 1163, originally uploaded by marscat.

Opportunity has begun the trip back to "Duck Bay", where it's likely that she will drive into Victoria Crater.

Flickr's blog feature has been improved since I last tried it.

Drive on Opportunity sol 1162

Drive on Opportunity sol 1162, originally uploaded by marscat.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Rover Model Feature; New Movies

To go along with the rover tracking feature in MMB2.0, there will soon be a "Rover Model" feature, where you can move a 3D model of the rover along the rover's actual path to see what it looks like in relation to the surroundings. maestro Doug Ellison created the 3D rover model that MMB will use. Check it out an early version in these QuickTime movies:

Opportunity Sol 1061-1066 w/model

Spirit Summit movie

And there are some screenshots here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

New Movie - Opportunity Sols 1061-1066

Here's a new rover movie showing Opportunity's drive along the edge of "The Bay of Toil," at Victoria Crater, Mars, on sols 1061 and 1066. This is captured using MMB2.0's panorama screenshot feature. It's different from other rover movies in that the view is in ground-relative perspective instead of rover-relative perspective. There are many more sequences of images that could be captured like this.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Version 2.0Dev5

I've posted the fifth development version of MMB 2.0. This version includes:

- "Update Software" feature: The Eclipse "Update Software" feature has been added: this will make it easier to get updates to the software from now on. Just select "Update Software" from the help menu and away you go. Of course you need to download this one last version the old fashioned way, to get the software update feature.

- Panorama Info View: The Panorama Info View shows the direction, field of view, and other information about the currently viewed panorama.

- Image Info View: The Image Info View shows information about the current image.

- Separate "Get Latest Image from Exploratorium" and "Get Latest Images from JPL" menu options: I've split up the two "Get Latest Images" options. The single "Get Latest Images" option used to check both Exploratorium and JPL for new images, but when Exploratorium is up and running it is rarely necessary to check JPL, so checking just Exploratorium saves time.

The previous development version (Dev 4) also saw the introduction of the "Rover Tracking" feature, where you can see the rover tracking information visualized in the Panorama.

To download the development version of Midnight Mars Browser 2.0, you can go here

And no, this isn't meant to be an April Fools joke...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Version 2.0 Development Release

I've posted a development release of Midnight Mars Browser 2.0. "Development Release" means it's a preview version and not feature-complete. It may have problems. This release is for folks who are already using MMB 1.x and want to take a walk on the wild side. You can go here and read the notices, if you dare.

Friday, March 02, 2007


Well, sort of a vacation... more like work-related exile... Anyway, I will be away from MMBCentCom until next Thursday the eighth, so no metadata updates until then. But there's some fun stuff coming after that, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Version 2.0

No, Version 2.0 isn't done yet (and it's still kind of a tossup whether it ever will be), but if you're curious, you can see development screenshots here.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Comet McNaught

My heart longs to see this comet. It's now more or less exclusively visible in the Southern Hemisphere - certainly not visible from chilly Minnesota.

Oh well.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Metadata Interruption; Crappy Java 3D Colors

There's been a pause in metadata updates for the last couple days while I upgrade to a new hardware at Midnight Mars Browser Central Command. I hope to be back up and running later today.

However, I may not mess with brightness and de-vignetting adjustments for awhile, as a new problem has materialized. It seems that in newer versions of Java or Java 3D, the Panorama feature is rendering in "thousands of colors" mode instead of "millions of colors". As near as I can tell at the moment, this is appears to be a problem with Java 3D; and it's really unfortunate because I don't have a lot of time to dink around with it. So if you're experiencing this problem, I'm afraid you're on your own for now; if it's any consolation, I have the exact same problem here. I am slowly working on a (really) new version that will ultimately use OpenGL instead of Java 3D, so we'll see how that goes. Suffice it to say, I think my time is better spent working on MMB2.0 rather than fixing what appear to be Java 3D issues.