Monday, February 04, 2008

2.0 Dev 14

A little fix: the processor usage was reading high, even when the program should have been idle. Thanks to Doug over at Unmanned Spaceflight for pointing it out. I think the fix even boosts the performance a bit, but it's hard to tell.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


Eagle-eyed readers may notice that there is a new mission statement for the project, over on the right-hand side there. (It's under the heading that says "Mission Statement".) Currently MMB2.0 is a program directed at a small set of fairly hard-core space enthusiasts, who already know quite a bit about the robotic Mars missions. My new goal is turn MMB2.0 into a program that anyone can download and start learning about the Mars Exploration Rover missions immediately. The way I intend to do that, in short, is to bring back the "Browser" in Midnight Mars Browser.

Right now the program could more accurately be called "Midnight Mars Downloader" - it is geared toward downloading images from the missions, and then viewing them. In contrast, a true "Browser" would mean wandering around "areas", and having the images download more-or-less automatically as needed. This is not a trivial excercise with missions as data-rich as the rovers, where there are many gigabytes of image data involved. Managing how much data is stored on a user's computer may be a challenge. But for our new target audience of casual users, especially ones who can't dedicate 10 gigabytes or more of hard drive space to MER image storage, this is the way to go.

A secondary shift here is one from where MMB was a program for following the latest images in the ongoing rover missions, to a mode where it is more a record of the missions gone by. This would be a natural progression to begin now, since the rovers are moving slowly with age these days, having already been successful beyond anyone's dreams. One could eventually view the software as a new "book" about the rovers. The content is data made publicly available by NASA; the program is just a new way to gather and organize it.

That's the plan. The good news is, a lot of the program is already in place. The changes just made with regard to movement in panorama mode (see the previous post) are a step in this direction. But there's a lot of work yet to get to this goal, and as always, it's just a spare-time project. So we'll see how things go. If you can support the project, please consider donating. Even a supportive comment on the blog would be appreciated.

2.0 Dev 13 - Movement by clicking on hotspots

In panorama mode, the rover model now automatically appears in position when you hover the mouse over a 'hotspot' in the rover tracking. And, when you click on the hotspot, the panorama view now shifts to that position. So now you can wander around in the rovers' footsteps just by clicking with the mouse.

As usual, you can download the latest here, or if you already have 2.0, you can use the "Update Software" feature in the Help menu.