A View from Jeff Foust

Mars Rover Image Interfaces

One disadvantage of the success of the Mars rover missions is the difficulty trying to sort through the thousands of images the twin rovers have returned. There are a couple of different ways the general public can sort through the…

  • February 20, 2004

One disadvantage of the success of the Mars rover missions is the difficulty trying to sort through the thousands of images the twin rovers have returned. There are a couple of different ways the general public can sort through the “raw” images returned by the rovers. JPL has a fairly standard interface to sort through the images returned by Spirit (5,327 as of Friday morning) and Opportunity (4,342 as of Friday afternoon). The images are sorted by the camera used to take the images and the date; selecting a particular combination of camera and date yields of page of thumbnail images that can be viewed at larger resolutions.

An independent site, the MER2003 Image Workbench, offers an alternative approach. Rather than drilling down through a series of pages to get to a particular image, this site offers a frames-based interface. The images are still sorted by rover, camera, and date, but this site offers some additional options, including the ability to view pairs of images in stereo and select several images and view them in an animation. (The site cautions that animations that include images from both the left and right lenses of the rovers’ panoramic cameras “tend to rock back and forth, and there may be a risk of motion sickness.”) This site takes a little bit of practice to get use to all the options, but does feature some helpful online documentation.

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