LatLon Islands: Production Diary #9
Hello dear backers!
One more week and we meet you with great news: we finally got our Mars processing workflow running with the help of two great scientists and the final design is almost ready to print.
Custom Digital Elevation Model of Mars: The odyssey
[Warning: amazing geo-nerd information ahead.]
As we mentioned in the previous update there are many different sources of geo information for Mars, usually coming from different instruments aboard the spacecrafts orbiting Mars: MOLA, CTX, HiRISE, HRSC, MOC NA, THEMIS… even getting a clear picture of all the data available takes days.
Each camera's design makes different trades among resolution and areal extent and therefore they usually have different applications. As an example of this difference, you can see in the following image a comparison between area covered by CTX, HiRISE and MOC NA:
For the Mars notebook cover we had focused all our work in a very specific area in Ares Vallis where four beautiful teardrop-shaped islands can be seen very clearly. Unfortunately there was no super high resolution HiRISE photos for this area (maybe they would have been massive to process anyway) so we started working with CTX .
We were having problems calibrating our images. Trying to get a better understanding of the data and how to process it, we got in contact with two experts with the deepest knowledge in this area:
- Zachary Moratto is an engineer at NASA Ames Research Center. He maintains different open-source NASA projects and is the lead developer for the Ames Stereo Pipeline. His blog contains the most amazing public compendium on Mars imagery processing that we’ve been able to find.
- Dr. Angelo Pio Rossi is a geologist with ample experience in Planetary Science and Exploration. Having worked previously at International Space Science Institute and the European Space Agency is now Planetary Scientist at the Jacobs University Bremen.
Zack and Angelo were kind enough to take the time to answer our naïve questions about CTX and Mars DTM processing, and help us to generate a valid elevation model for the very specific area we wanted to use. Without their disinterested assistance we’ll still be looking around trying to understand the complexities of the data. Thank you guys!
The Last Cover
So after a lot work understanding Mars geography and imagery, and the usual painstaking manual polishing of the area, here is the almost final design of the Ares Vallis’ Islands notebook:
We’ll send the final PDF to Reykjavík Letterpress tomorrow and next week they will print the cover for the special Mars notebook. We’ll go again to their premises to take some pictures of the event of course, and after this quick print they will finally bind, trim and deliver all the notebooks to us. This last phase of the notebooks’ production should take 1-2 weeks only. We’re so close!
Early Digital Access
In the next few days we’ll send an email to all the backers that selected the $35 reward or higher. In this email we’ll include a link to the downloadable files (accurate geo shapefiles + cleaned up vectorial designs) that we’ve created for each one of our notebooks.
Our lovely backers are getting early access to all this stuff but we’ll eventually –in the following months– open source all the files and data generated during the production of this first series so any person can mix and match our sweat in her own creative works for free.
We’ve have had the opportunity to access some of the best geographical resources available on the planet without any kind of constrain and this is our way to say thank you and give something back to the scientific and creative community.
Next steps: binding and shipping party!
With the notebooks printed and prepared to ship we’ll proceed with the last stage of the project, the one that we have mention a few times already: The Epic LatLon Shipping Of The Summer of 2014™. The event will include lots of friends, a herculean amount of homemade pizza and gyōzas (or maybe a brobdingnagian BBQ), tons of envelopes and a moderate to high number of great quality spirits.
We’d love to invite you all to our homes for the launch party, but given we live in a rock in the middle of ocean, we understand our location will render difficult your attendance. You will be in our thoughts, though.
Talk to you soon,
Aitor & Brian – Remember, the future is analog.