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Emily LakdawallaSeptember 23, 2009

Beautiful 3D animation of Spirit's environs in Gusev Crater

Doug Ellison has done it again: he's created a spectacular overflight of Gusev crater based upon digital elevation models of the terrain produced by the United States Geological Survey from HiRISE data. This time he gave the atmosphere a marvelously dusty texture. You can visit Doug's website to download the movies, or view the reduced-resolution version I posted to Facebook below. (Go to Facebook for HD resolution.)

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Interestingly, the very day before Doug completed this work, Mark Powell posted a video he made showing a 3D view of the Spirit traverse being developed at JPL in order to help the mission team (engineers as much as, maybe even more than, the scientists) visualize the rover's relationship to its 3D environment. Doug's version is for public enjoyment; Mark's version jumps off the same source data but results in something intended to be functional. You'll need the sound on to appreciate Mark's video -- he provides a commentary as he demonstrates the capabilities of his visualization tool.

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Read more: pretty pictures, data art (was amateur image processing), Spirit, Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars, 3D, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, animation

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Emily Lakdawalla

Solar System Specialist for The Planetary Society
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