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Using Cassini Raw Images, An Update
djellison
post Jan 27 2007, 11:47 AM
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Over the past 3 years, we've been fortunate enough to have an ever expanding library of nearly 200,000 images from the Mars Exploration Rovers thrown onto the web as uncalibrated JPG's for enthusiasts like ourselves to get our teeth in to. The success of this is written on the walls of UMSF and elsewhere, and most remarkably, the scientists and engineers involved were pleased to see people getting their hands on 'their' data. Jim Bell even commented on Planetary Radio in November '05 :
"The team really appreciates the public support, and we put the images out there every day on marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov and people download them and make their own mosaics and panoramas and do their own analysis and we think that's great - it's great to have the public along for the ride"


Cassini followed suit and after some trouble getting images that were not overly stretched the workflow was sorted out and amazing images have been making it onto the JPL website ever since. From time to time we've seen some great results - mosaics, colour composites, animation - great work and a fantastic credit to the Cassini team, their policy of putting images online and the example set by MER.

However - over the last 18 months or so there have been some rumours and unpleasant undertones regarding Cassini imagery. Some enthusiasts who have created amazing images found that their creations were not universally appreciated. There seemed to be an unspoken 'look but don't touch' policy in place regarding the raw JPG's and thus they stopped working with Cassini imagery or took down bits of their websites and so on.

Over the past year or so, the UMSF mod and admin team have been discussing this, and recently we contacted JPL for clarification. Could we find some way to give people the confidence to get creative with the Cassini images as they have with MER images? I want to thank the Cassini outreach team for responding to us so positively and for everyone involved in helping us establish in writing what we all hoped was true, but were perhaps a little unsure of. I'm happy to report that the Cassini images are out there for us to use and enjoy in exactly the same way we do with MER imagery.

To confirm that - recently there has been an addition to the text on the Raw Images page saturn.jpl.nasa.gov

"Welcome to the Cassini raw image section, where the Cassini mission and Cassini outreach are happy to provide these raw images for the public to use and enjoy. ... "

As with MER - if you do something with the Cassini images - you should cite where the data comes from. For MER it has always been NASA/JPL/Cornell and for Cassini it should be NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute. For those of you that may have had concerns or doubts about getting thoroughly stuck in to the Cassini imagery, then you can put those fears aside and get stuck in - to cite a senior Cassini team member:

"Our intent in creating the raw image page was to accomplish exactly what Jim Bell said for the MER Project. The public is paying the bill for this, so we should be doing everything we can to help them enjoy the ride"

So - crack open your photo editing software and start exploring Saturn!

Thanks to Alice and the team at JPL for helping us with this, and personal thanks to the rest of the mod and admin team who, as ever, knew the rights words to say at the right time.

Doug
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scalbers
post Feb 11 2007, 11:14 PM
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Interesting to hear today that CICLOPS may soon be posting "amateur" enthusiast processed raw images on their site.


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dilo
post Feb 12 2007, 07:10 AM
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To confirm what Doug report, I just received last ciclops mail update where Carolyn Porco tells:
"we will soon be setting up, under Sector 6, a page where we will
post the Cassini image products created by non-Cassini, `amateur' image
analysts from the raw images that we make available to the public. This
will be done in a similar vein to the Art Room, where we post the
contributions of astronomical artists. Right now, these image products
are being shared among Cassini fans in other places here and there on
the internet. But I would like to give those of you interested in this
activity a chance to post your creations to a central location on the
CICLOPS site, which (as you can imagine) gets many visitors per month
and hence great visibility. Once we set up the pipeline within CICLOPS
to support your contributions, we will send out another announcement.
So, stay tuned for that."
Seems great!


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djellison
post Feb 12 2007, 08:36 AM
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Actually the Sector 6 news is a new, very suprising but welcome development over and above what was discussed with JPL.

Doug
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ugordan
post Feb 12 2007, 08:59 AM
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Yeah, talk about a plot twist...
I'm curious, how's it going to work out with amateur raw composites? They'd have to release older stuff to avoid clashing with their own releases using new data. Amateurs will usually beat the team to a pretty mosaic and stuff.


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CosmicRocker
post Feb 12 2007, 09:50 PM
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This is really quite good news. I wasn't aware of the background developments described by Doug. I am on their email list and got that message too. The reworked web site is more interesting now, and I am optimistic about the future. I registered as an Alliance member while there, and spent some time looking around. There is some pretty nice artwork, among other things.

I wonder about the people here who work with Cassini imagery. Will you folks also post your work at the Ciclops site when they open that section? I have only dabbled with the Cassini imagery so far, but I may take up Doug's challenge and see what I can learn.


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mysagan
post Feb 22 2007, 01:46 AM
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To all of you from Carolyn Porco...

-----------------------------------------

February 21, 2007



Dear UMSF members,


Hello to all of you. It is a pleasure to finally `make your acquaintances'.

I don't believe I've ever posted anything to this website in the past. The little I know about what goes on here I know because the individuals working with me in CICLOPS have, from time to time, pointed out to me posts that they think would be of interest. As I am quite busy, they know not to do this often.

But recently, they pointed out to me a post by D. Ellison, the moderator of this site, concerning the use of Cassini raw images, that alluded to some `unpleasant' undertones regarding this issue. Since then, I have had communications with some of you to try to understand the real issues behind this statement.

I have learned that there seems to be a general impression -- I will say, rumor -- going around that I am very unhappy that people are working with and processing our images to make their own products, like mosaics and movies, and have made it known that I am not pleased.

I was very saddened to learn this. I don't believe there is a PI anywhere who has worked harder and with greater enthusiasm at trying to serve the public by giving them the opportunity to `go along for the ride'. I believe you only have to look at the care given in creating and maintaining the CICLOPS website, and in particular to my Captain's Logs going all the way back to Earth/Moon flyby, to know this. And I hope our eagerness is also obvious by how we at CICLOPS have presented, as quickly as workforce and resources will allow, and as appealingly, artfully and carefully as we can, the results of our imaging experiment. After our obligations to do uplink and downlink operations, nothing means more to us. So, to learn that the impression made on the public has been in fact the opposite was a great personal disappointment to me.

As it turns out, this `rumor' you have heard is a bad mangling of the truth and the facts, and it is obvious that the air needs to be cleared. Hence, this post.


I'll begin by giving you some history. When we Cassini scientists were first selected back on November 13, 1990, no one was talking of releasing raw images to the public. It had never been done. Nonetheless, as a former Voyager imaging scientist, and also as someone with a great deal of experience and interest in communicating science to the public, I had every intention from the beginning of my tenure as Imaging Team leader of doing the best job possible at publicly presenting our images. In one of my first `speeches' to the Imaging Team in 1991, I spelled out my intention for all of us Cassini imaging scientists to use our cameras, whenever possible, for taking `Photo Ops' -- images that were just beautiful, artful compositions -- and to take advantage of our healthy downlink to Earth to make movies of every time-variable phenomenon we could....something that Voyager did to a limited extent and Galileo, sadly, couldn't.

[An aside: The first Photo Op I ever suggested to the Cassini Project, a movie of the Moon going around the Earth as Cassini was departing the Earth after launch, was denied. The first real Photo Op we ever actually took was the Greatest Jupiter Portrait: ie, it was inserted into the timeline for the express purpose of making the most sensational portrait of Jupiter yet seen. And as many of you know, we took many beautiful movies of the Jovian atmosphere, orbiting moons, and Io aurorae. And now our Photo Ops (or Kodak Moments as some of them are called) and movies are standard fare. And at Saturn, many of the images taken for scientific reasons turn out to be gorgeous compositions anyway. We are indeed fortunate to be where we are, surrounded by so much beauty.]


The idea for releasing raw Cassini images to the public was brought up as we were approaching Saturn. The issue was discussed on the Imaging Team. No one expressed opposition to the idea of members of the public, per se, having access to the images, though to be honest, at that time we didn't realize that people would be interested in processing our images to make mosaics and the like out of them. All the concerns expressed about the matter had solely to do with scientific propriety: ie, since the images would be, obviously, available to other non-Cassini scientists as well, would public release make us vulnerable to being scooped?

Maybe it's not possible for someone who hasn't dedicated 14 years of his/her life to a single goal to truly understand this. But scientists don't live the lives they live for money or fame. All we want is the joy and credit of making discoveries. It's the main currency in our business. It is our lifeblood. So, the idea of being scooped at something we had worked so hard for, for so long, was a painful one indeed.

Nonetheless, just about everyone went along with the public release, so long as the images would be compressed and so long as it was made clear to the world that the images were not meant to be used for science. I believe this has been done.

I understand that comparisons have been made between the release of MER images and Cassini images. Such comparisons are not appropriate.

A very large fraction -- and I would claim, the major fraction -- of the results coming out of MER are derived from what that team's compositional analyses. Yes, MER observed concretions (`blueberries') which indicate formation in a liquid, and there is evidence in the sedimentary layers observed in the walls of some crater (I forget which) for ripples made not by wind but by water. But, the real hard-core evidence for the presence of surface liquid water, which is the BIG result coming out of MER, derives from the detailed analyses of the other instruments' data, when put in context with the images. Without the former, the results from the latter would be much less conclusive. The MER Team didn't have to worry about being scooped in their big discoveries, because no member of the public or the outside scientific community gets their hands on the MER compositional results except the MER team.

In the case of Cassini, if you are an imaging team member, the images are all she wrote. All of our scientific investigations that, for 14 years, we have long planned to do, and for which we were selected for membership on the Imaging Team, are *completely* derived from the images. Hence, whatever concern the team had about the release of raw images to the public had to do with this issue and this issue alone.

So, I hope you can see why, right off the bat, the Cassini Imaging Team would be more anxious about publicly releasing our images than the MER team.


On the subject of image products, once it became obvious to us that you folks were making such products with Cassini images, no one found that particularly disturbing, though we at CICLOPS (whose job it is to process images for public release) did feel pressure to work even faster in getting our own official products out. We didn't like the extra pressure -- I mean, we're working like crazy as it is -- but honestly, as someone who wants nothing more than for the public to feel the thrill and adventure that we feel in this great ride around Saturn, I was happy to see others so enjoying the fruits of our labor. It's like throwing a party and having LOTS of people come to join you in having an enjoyable time. Who wouldn't like that?

However, what did in fact disturb us at CICLOPS greatly, and the source of all of the misunderstanding surrounding this issue, was the fact that very public sites, like APOD and The Planetary Society, which we here at CICLOPS regard as the `grey media' were posting the amateur products. Why, you ask, would we find this upsetting? Let me try to explain.

Going back to the party analogy, imagine sending out an invitation to a party, describing how fantastically wonderful your party will be, working for weeks on end making all the arrangements for this party, expecting to have a big blow-out that no one will ever forget, and then having all your invitees go instead to the party next door. That would be pretty deflating, wouldn't it?

Now, instead of party and all I've described above, imagine it's not weeks but 14 years of very hard work, requiring enormously long periods of time during which you had to clear the decks of everything, including any semblance of a normal life, to achieve success. And that one of the things you *most* looked forward to, from all your hard work, was presenting to the world the best, most beautiful, most memorable images anyone had seen. In other words, having the world come to your party. And after all your hard work, someone else cuts you out of the equation, throws a party without you. After all your hard work, someone else presents your work to the world.

I ask you: Would *you* be disappointed?

Well, I certainly was. And I've been very clear in letting APOD and TPS know this. And I specifically said to both that I had no problem with people using the images and posting to their own personal sites or to non-official, non-`media' sites. But our very strong feeling here is that the media sites have an obligation to present CICLOPS' official image products to the world. And we still feel this way. After all, once a news story is out, no news outlet will touch it again. We know this, everyone knows this, and it is the same with image products. Hence, our stance on this matter.

[I will take this opportunity to state publicly that I was especially angered by members of TPS hawking our spoke images around the annual meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences, a *professional meeting*, before we, the Imaging Team, got to officially announce sighting of the spokes to our scientific colleagues. That was simply unforgivable.]


Unfortunately, my strong words to APOD and TPS have been mangled and used to convey the wrong impression, that I didn't want anyone to enjoy our images. And as a result, I see that some of you have expressed `surprise' that CICLOPS is soon going to invite submission of amateur Cassini products for posting to our site.

I hope now you realize that there is no reason for you to be surprised, that our intent is and always has been for everyone to enjoy what we are doing at Saturn, and that if making amateur products is what you like to do, then you can submit them and have them posted to our site. We will welcome you. Furthermore, you can expect to enjoy interaction with the very scientists who have made those images possible...thereby avoiding a lot of unnecessary time speculating about what the images are revealing or the significance of the science. To do any of this, you will need to join the CICLOPS Alliance. We already have hundreds of members, and we look forward to your participation.


I have had great plans for our CICLOPS website from the beginning of this adventure. Over these past Christmas holidays, when we had more discretionary time than usual, we made great strides in updating our site. And we plan to do a lot more. So stay tuned for that.


------------

Because you are a collection of humans, and human characteristics generally follow the usual statistical principles, most of you will completely understand this, and some of you won't give a damn. So be it.

I just wanted all of you to hear this `from the horse's mouth' instead of relying on behind-the-scenes gossiping and rumors.

In the future, if there are any questions about issues having to do with Cassini images, I would suggest that, instead of wasting your valuable time discussing things in this forum that might simply be wrong, just ask me. My email address is at the bottom of every CICLOPS home page: cpcomments@ciclops.org .

In the meantime, on behalf of the imaging team and the CICLOPS' staff members, we hope you join us.


Best to all of you,

Carolyn Porco
Cassini Imaging Team Leader
Director/CICLOPS
Space Science Institute
Boulder, CO
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dusty
post Feb 22 2007, 02:03 PM
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Hi folks. This is Dusty from #space on irc.freenode.net. Over the last few years it has been my honor to get to know the Cassini team somewhat, and have learned firsthand that they are forthcoming, honest and share our passion for space exploration.

I typically do not post on UMSF, and in fact this is only my second post, but I peruse this forum, and appreciate all of your discussions.

The complete fiasco that has resulted from the recent innuendos and rumours has one common thread. We all love space, and the amazing science that humanity can produce, and we all want to continue that voyage of discovery together.

This has been a serious issue for me because even though my images are pretty ugly, something is learned with each experiment involving both Cassini and the MER imagery. While not as technically able as a lot of you (slinted,Doug,Cosmicrocker,Dilo et al.) every image i color teaches me something. Therefore, it was disturbing to see the waters of calm roiled by all of this.

I have nothing against anyone, and I intend to trust the Ciclops folks. Heck, they got us this far didn't they?

As enthusiasts I hope and pray that we can come together in good faith and extend trust and faith to the Ciclops site.

It is really quite a testament to their openness and desire to dialog that they are represented here directly. That should be lauded, and appreciated....

Hopefully some middle ground can be found wherever that may be, here, or on Ciclops where we can all come together.

Flame wars and fighting is not productive, and only serves to weaken all of us.

I hope that we can all extend the hand of good faith to the Ciclops site, and through bridge building and increased trust strike a balance and forge a ground-breaking type of interaction with the Cassini team. All of this is very possible. The recipe for success calls for trust and cool heads. We need to maintain a dialog with the Ciclops guys, and they have shown a very real and tangible desire for dialog and discussion.

Hopefully we can all apply trust and give it an honest shot here, and on Freenode.

I intend to. smile.gif

Regards,
Dusty
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ngunn
post Feb 22 2007, 02:46 PM
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I appreciate Carolyn taking so much time to explain her position to us. I have just joined 'Sector 6' and look forward to seeing it develop.

I was a little concerned to read that the Cassini raw images are 'not meant to be used for science'. It is difficult to look at pictures of strange distant places and not have thoughts about what they might mean. When people on this forum exchange such thoughts and possibly arrive at new insights are they 'doing science?' I hope not . . . er, no, I mean . . .

Seriously, It shouldn't be too hard to avoid spoiling Carolyn's party.

It's another sentence from her post that strikes the biggest chord with me:
We are indeed fortunate to be where we are, surrounded by so much beauty
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climber
post Feb 22 2007, 02:47 PM
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I must say that having Carolyn Porco's opinion is a must here. She says that APOD and TPS are "real media" and her post confirm that UNMSF (us) is very important in her mind too. That's great great news.
It's always essential to read arguments from both sides.
The situation looks clear to my eyes and looks more as a misunderstanding than something else.
Let's continue our journey in the Saturnian system. smile.gif


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ugordan
post Feb 22 2007, 02:56 PM
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Actually she says APOD and TPS are "grey media" which I don't fully understand, but I take it to mean something of a media not using exclusively "official" channels to get information. It seems to me the thing that bothers them is not that these sites post raw image products, but that they get a lot of exposure. Which makes me wonder if they'd feel the same about UMSF if it were as well-known.

Just my 2c.


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elakdawalla
post Feb 22 2007, 03:45 PM
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I'll confirm that Dr. Porco has repeatedly asked for me not to post amateur-produced products on The Planetary Society's website. Each time, I have contacted Cassini Mission public information and/or project management staff and asked for clarification of the Mission's policy regarding fair use of the raw images. Each time, the Mission has confirmed that amateur-produced images, whether produced by me or others, whether they are mosaics, color combinations, or animations, or any description of them, constitute fair use of the raw images, and they say they are happy for me to post them. Thus this discussion results from a fundamental disagreement between Dr. Porco and her project management over the use of the Cassini ISS images. It has been extremely uncomfortable to be in the middle of this conflict between a senior scientist and mission management. In order to avoid this conflict, for about a year, I sharply cut back my coverage of the Cassini mission. But thanks to the recently updated public notice of the Mission's policy on the raw images home page, I have been emboldened to start posting them again. I am sorry to cause pain to anyone but I either have to avoid talking about Cassini or make a choice between these two sides, and in this case I prefer to err on the side of celebrating the current activities of the Cassini mission as well as the fine work of amateurs and professionals alike by making use of the publicly posted raw images. I hope that Dr. Porco and her management can come to a private resolution of this issue soon.

I would like to address the argument that little valid science can be done with Mars Exploration Rover Pancam images alone. There are a number of examples, like rock size/shape/frequency distributions, layer morphology, etc. that could be done with Pancam images alone. However, Pancam images are rarely used for science on their own in large part because of the (sadly) unusual level of cooperation among instrument teams on the Mars Exploration Rover mission; there is no need to attempt to use only images to make discoveries with MER. And the (in my view) blockbuster discovery of the Cassini mission -- the geologic activity of Enceladus -- was made by all Cassini instruments working together.

--Emily


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Littlebit
post Feb 22 2007, 04:15 PM
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QUOTE (Dr. Porco)
Maybe it's not possible for someone who hasn't dedicated 14 years of his/her life to a single goal to truly understand this. But scientists don't live the lives they live for money or fame. All we want is the joy and credit of making discoveries. It's the main currency in our business. It is our lifeblood. So, the idea of being scooped at something we had worked so hard for, for so long, was a painful one indeed.

I wonder if it is really possible to scoop the mission scientists. Even though an amatuer on this site first publicly speculated about the plumes of Enceladus, the Big Story was when this discovery was confirmed by Carolyn's team. It is hard to mention Cassini without mentioning Dr. Porco. (And for those of us who follow it closely, admire both what she is doing and how she does it.) She is the expert, the leader, the voice of Cassini imaging.

A couple of decades ago, there was a grad student who grabbed the images of Saturn returned by Voyager and ran with them: Developing a theory for the spokes that launched her career. Hopefully there are young people working just as hard on the science returned by Cassini today. Maybe some of them will publish, and lead the next generation.
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tedstryk
post Feb 22 2007, 05:07 PM
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QUOTE (elakdawalla @ Feb 22 2007, 03:45 PM) *
I would like to address the argument that little valid science can be done with Mars Exploration Rover Pancam images alone. There are a number of examples, like rock size/shape/frequency distributions, layer morphology, etc. that could be done with Pancam images alone. However, Pancam images are rarely used for science on their own in large part because of the (sadly) unusual level of cooperation among instrument teams on the Mars Exploration Rover mission; there is no need to attempt to use only images to make discoveries with MER. And the (in my view) blockbuster discovery of the Cassini mission -- the geologic activity of Enceladus -- was made by all Cassini instruments working together.

--Emily


I think the difference may well be that short of photographing a patch of grass or Marvin the Martian, the scientific discoveries from MER images are much less likely to be made by playing with the raw jpegs or simply looking at them. Still, Cassini is the fourth spacecraft to visit Saturn, and has imaged at least portions of all the major targets at relatively high resolution. The chances of it simply stumbling on something that could be understood from the raw jpegs is much lower than it could be.


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dvandorn
post Feb 22 2007, 05:21 PM
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There is really only one example of a Cassini discovery that was self-obvious in the compressed JPGs -- the Enceladan plumes. And y'all will recall that as soon as one of us spotted the plumes in the JPGs, we were immediately told by a member of the imaging team (who posts here) that all we were seeing were lens flare effects. And he didn't retract that opinion until after the imaging team went public with their own conclusion that there really were plumes coming off of Enceladus.

I'm not saying anything except that this coincidence caught my attention at the time, and I still note it in this discussion...

-the other Doug


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