A Simulated Day On Mars

The Mars Sundial on the Spirit rover

Spirit-Sundial-Animation.mpg (400kb) VCD-compliant MPEG-1 file
Spirit-Sundial-Animation.avi (8mb) uncompressed AVI

Ok, so it's really only a little more than four hours centered roughly on mid-day, so this is more like "An Executive Lunch on Mars". I built these images and this animation from the raw pancam images and caption data at http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov. Many many thanks to the hard working folks at NASA/JPL for going to the extra effort to make this data so promptly available to the general public.

These are pretty much all of the left pancam shots of the Mars Sundial on Spirit for a period during which Spirit remained stationary (roughly Sol 016 through part of Sol 036), and for which there were a full set of R/G/B images (filters 4, 5 and 6) available. In some cases, a shot through filter 6 was not available, so filter 7 was substituted. Those are the ones with a slight yellow/orange cast to them, most noticable in the white areas of the dial, and which carry the notation "(4,5,7)" in the lower right corner.

The numbers across the top of the frame are the approximate local Mars Solar Time of capture for the first and last images in each set of three which comprise a single full-color frame, according to the image captions on the JPL site. The notation in the lower left corner of the frame is the "Sol" on which the images were captured, which is the number of elapsed Martian days since landing. You will notice that the time of day runs sequentially through the animation, but the Sols do not run sequentially. This is to simulate a single passage of the sun over the rover, although the images were captured at various times of day over a period of several days. Also please note that the passage of the time-of-day is *not* smoothly linear. This would be a lot cooler if I had adjusted the duration of each frame and cross-faded them to simulate a true linear time-lapse acceleration of a single mid-day period. I am too lazy at the moment to do so, but anyone who wants to tackle it can feel free to download the uncompressed AVI and give it a try.

I attempted to manually align the frames, to minimize wiggling and jumping. The abrupt jump at the loop point is more due to the sudden change in the light and shadow than it is to a mis-alignment of fixed elements in the frame. Note how the angle of the sunlight makes a dramatic change in the appearance of the various rocks, including which details are more noticable. This is a good object lesson in the significant role that lighting and time of day has in the interpretation of photographic data. This, along with the sometimes over-active pattern recognition facilities of the human brain, was definitely a factor in the infamous "face on mars" controversy that started with a single raw Viking orbiter image.

Here's a link back to Andy Warhol's Mars, and other not quite so goofy stuff.

3D Anaglyph Stereograms (Red/Blue Glasses) of Martian scenes are accessible by clicking on this link or image.

Please click here to read my somewhat entertaining resume, and offer me a somewhat entertaining job.

Please click here to listen to my songs and let me know what you think! Rights to the compositions and the recordings are available for licensing.

Still bored? Why not click here to check out these links to all of my other online junk, like a 3D anaglyph gallery, and fan sites for Man or Astro-man?, MST3K, etc.

Annoyed? Confused? Impressed? Click here to tell me about it, I'm bored!

Textual content Copyright 2004 by Michael "Mookie" Kepler. All modifications and collages of NASA/JPL images, which excludes the icons for my Resume and Mookie Melodies pages, are released to the Public Domain, inasmuch as it may be within my rights to do so (frankly, not entirely sure about that).

Link back to the top of this page (Mars Sundial Animation)