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Good Night Oppy - Film and Reflections, A place for discussion of the Film "Good Night Oppy" by Ryan W
paxdan
post Nov 24 2022, 09:57 AM
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Hello All,

Just thought I'd make a post to celebrate the streaming release of Good Night Oppy, a new film by Ryan White about the MER mission. I watched it last night on Amazon. It was amazing to reflect on the success of MER rovers and the intertwining of people's lives with the rovers. As someone who lurked on the mer.lp forum which was a precursor to unmannedspaceflight I want to pay special tribute to Doug, the founder of this forum, for creating this space and congratulate and celebrate his eventual ascension to nerdvana, JPL itself, to work on the MER missions by way of bootleg postcards!

Watching this forum grow, seeing the panoramas, postcards, and maps posted to bring along a bunch of folks on the first overland exploration of another planet is an experience I will never forget. For 15 years I checked in everyday without fail to the MER rovers, I strongly suspect I've seen every one of the half a million or so photos returned by the mission. But more importantly I remember with such clarity the stops along the way - For Oppy: Eagle, Endeavour, Victoria, Endurance. The Blueberry bowl, bounce rock, etched terrain, Purgatory, Spirit point, Homestake vein visiting the backshell and so much more. For Spirit: the sol 17 anomaly at Adirondack, Bonneville, the trek to the Columbia hills and the pot of gold, summiting Husband hill, Homeplate and the mystery of 'Ultreya', dust devils galore and the discovery of evidence for a thermal spring.

The MER rovers were literally the adventure of a lifetime, and what was amazing and made it possible was the decision by Steve Squyres to put the raw images online immediately. It made possible the armchair exploration which became such a big part of our lives. I am so grateful for all the folk who made maps and panoramas, who poured over images and made anaglyphs movies and animations.

So I just want to say thank you to Steve, Doug and all the folk who got involved, both at JPL and in the wider community for Sprit, Opportunity and the MER rover experience.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and reflections on the MER Mission, and maybe share a few memories and images too.

Daniel
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djellison
post Nov 25 2022, 11:41 PM
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I'm proud to have been a tiny part of MER right near the end, especially of realizing that ridiculous dream of an MER selfie that I think I first thought about in 2008.....but thanks to the policy that Steve and Jim put in place right back at the start to release all those images....all of us here were a small part of MER from the very beginning.

My screen time in the movie definitely outsizes my contribution to the mission a thousand fold - but I'm still really happy with how the movie came out. This is not NOVA PBS / Nat Geo etc etc - it's not the detailed scientific/engineering story that some might be searching for. But it IS something no other documentary has managed to be - a very accurate look at the emotional story of the people involved.

It takes plenty of creative license in doing it - things are out of order, the VFX for solar flares - personifying the rover a LOT - but at the service of telling that emotional story accurately.

I will credit ILM with doing a lovely job in making some nice patches of Mars. I was on Zoom with them for several hours showing them how to get into the PDS data, how to use HiRISE DEMs, Pancam RAD .img files and they did a beautiful job of bringing all that together ( a few screenshots attached )

Ryan White has done something really rather special - he's put the emotional closure on to the end of the mission that I think many of us have been missing since Sol 5111. As a movie it has the power to show the world that despite being robotic spacecraft, these was a very very human project.
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vjkane
post Nov 26 2022, 02:02 AM
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QUOTE (djellison @ Nov 25 2022, 04:41 PM) *
I'm proud to have been a tiny part of MER right near the end, especially of realizing that ridiculous dream of an MER selfie that I think I first thought about in 2008.....but thanks to the policy that Steve and Jim put in place right back at the start to release all those images....all of us here were a small part of MER from the very beginning.

My screen time in the movie definitely outsizes my contribution to the mission a thousand fold - but I'm still really happy with how the movie came out. This is not NOVA PBS / Nat Geo etc etc - it's not the detailed scientific/engineering story that some might be searching for. But it IS something no other documentary has managed to be - a very accurate look at the emotional story of the people involved.

It takes plenty of creative license in doing it - things are out of order, the VFX for solar flares - personifying the rover a LOT - but at the service of telling that emotional story accurately.

I will credit ILM with doing a lovely job in making some nice patches of Mars. I was on Zoom with them for several hours showing them how to get into the PDS data, how to use HiRISE DEMs, Pancam RAD .img files and they did a beautiful job of bringing all that together ( a few screenshots attached )

Ryan White has done something really rather special - he's put the emotional closure on to the end of the mission that I think many of us have been missing since Sol 5111. As a movie it has the power to show the world that despite being robotic spacecraft, these was a very very human project.

Doug - I watched the movie last night, and needed to get a tissue for the tears. Yep, loved those rovers.

Your quotes spoke beautifully to the mission and what it meant to many. Thank you..


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john_s
post Nov 26 2022, 02:41 PM
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Really enjoyed it- and great to see Doug making such an eloquent contribution (though with so many personal stories included, I wish they'd found room for his remarkable story too). Not surprised he played a big role in getting the CGI right. Yes, I wish they'd included a bit more of the science that drove the mission, and more actual spacecraft imagery (would have been nice to see the real dust devil footage along with the CGI dust devils, for instance), but still a great piece of work.

John
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MahFL
post Nov 27 2022, 02:37 AM
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It's been an awesome journey.
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mcaplinger
post Nov 27 2022, 03:27 AM
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QUOTE (djellison @ Nov 25 2022, 03:41 PM) *
It takes plenty of creative license in doing it... - personifying the rover a LOT - but at the service of telling that emotional story accurately.

I suppose that's true. My opinion, FWIW: It's not like I was deeply involved in MER (and a tiny bit miffed that my small role in the MER-A landing didn't make the cut) but I've always felt that this degree of anthropomorphism was either something other people felt, or was being played up for the cameras. I see less of it on MSL and M2020, though perhaps I just don't run in the right circles. Perhaps the "plucky underdog" aspect of MER played into it. Guess I'm just a heartless engineer.

"How strange -- indeed, how perverse -- to weep for a machine!" - Arthur C. Clarke, GLIDE PATH, 1963


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Disclaimer: This post is based on public information only. Any opinions are my own.
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MahFL
post Nov 27 2022, 04:49 AM
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QUOTE (mcaplinger @ Nov 27 2022, 04:27 AM) *
"...Guess I'm just a heartless engineer."


I am, at a lot of times, a cynical old fart, but my eyes were watering...
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djellison
post Nov 27 2022, 05:24 AM
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FWIW having been on both MER and MSL - there’s nothing like as much…for want of a better phrase…..identifying with or attachment to the rover on MSL like there was on MER. It’s very different.
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djellison
post Nov 28 2022, 10:52 PM
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QUOTE (john_s @ Nov 26 2022, 06:41 AM) *
Really enjoyed it- and great to see Doug making such an eloquent contribution (though with so many personal stories included, I wish they'd found room for his remarkable story too).


I was literally just on a media call for the doc with Ryan White (the director) and Jessica Hargrave ( his producing partner ) and they said they did have some of my personal story edited together but it ended up on the cutting room floor ( as did the science results of Spirit ) as the movie was just getting too long. I'm very pleased that Bekah, Abby, Ashitey, Vandi and Jennifer's stories all are a part of this movie - my story is out there in a few ways already, but I hadn't heard theirs told before

To their credit - every time we're on a media call together, they go to great lengths to make sure that my story is a part of what we talk about.
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nprev
post Nov 30 2022, 06:31 AM
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Just saw it. Not normally at a loss for words, but I'm stunned. Mrs. nprev (not a spaceflight enthusiast but most tolerant of me!) was in tears, and then declared that she finally understood what it was all about and why it mattered...and that is a BIG deal if you think about it globally. Apparently the movie is currently #9 on all of Amazon!

Doug, you were the glue that held the narrative together. Spectacular job, mate!!!


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tdemko
post Dec 2 2022, 01:48 PM
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It’s good to see Member No. 1 here (and the rest of you under-Member-No.-500 folks). I boohooed the WHOLE way through this tear-jerker. Sorry, ACC, strange and perverse it is then.


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vjkane
post Dec 3 2022, 02:00 AM
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QUOTE (tdemko @ Dec 2 2022, 06:48 AM) *
It’s good to see Member No. 1 here (and the rest of you under-Member-No.-500 folks). I boohooed the WHOLE way through this tear-jerker. Sorry, ACC, strange and perverse it is then.


Member No. 9

Now replying to see what my membership number is! Joined in 2005


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Explorer1
post Dec 3 2022, 04:50 AM
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Loved the film for all the reasons in the above posts! My only pet peeve was repeatedly showing the rovers at the edge of various cliffs, much closer than it ever really got (and I know some of the additions like the little power lights in the side of the main body were put in for empathy reasons)....
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