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Formal Pro-Am & Pro UMSF Involvement?
algorimancer
post Sep 7 2007, 01:39 PM
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Looking ahead to MSL (2010 isn't that far away), it occurs to me that it would be of mutual benefit to try to establish some sort of formal involvement between UMSF (or an interested pool of UMSF members, possibly coordinating through a private sub-forum) and the MSL PI's and associated teams. We've certainly got the talent pool, professional and otherwise, particularly considering the cartography, software development, and analysis which appears here. They could get the benefit of some competent assistance in a variety of forms (gratis), and we could acquire an inside line to the data products we care about. Anyone else think this would be a good idea? I'm not entirely sure how best to go about establishing this relationship, but we already have some members of the MSL team onboard here.

From my own perspective, I would like to be able to hit the ground running from the software perspective from the moment of landing. This means knowledge of such things as vehicle and instrument models (camera models) as well as locations and formats of data products - images, color calibration, and something to the effect of the pancam tracking database. Some aspects of data analysis might also be handled here, and I'm sure we'd all enjoy sharing opinions about mission planning smile.gif
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nprev
post Sep 7 2007, 02:36 PM
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I think that's a terrific idea, man! smile.gif There's a long tradition of pro-am collaboration in amateur astronomy, which in fact has become even stronger in recent years as equipment has improved. The computing revolution has obviously had the same effect on the tools available to pro & amateur image enthusiasts.

The only problem I see is that the amateur products may need to be approved before release. Not only is review manifestly essential in order to validate scientific findings, but the pros must publish or perish themselves, and they might not appreciate being scooped by an am.

The way that the pro/am process generally works in astronomy is that the pros either have established long-standing relationships with organized groups like AAVSO or ALPO for long-term observation campaigns, or the pros send out a call for observations of discrete events like asteroid occultations, comets, novae, etc. Discoveries of new objects or phenomena by everybody (pros & ams alike) are reported to the IAU via (in the case of asteroids & comets) the Minor Planet Center at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

Sorry for telling you more than you wanted to know (or what you knew already! tongue.gif ), but thought it might be helpful to look at precedents & processes when formulating an UMSF pro/am collaborative schema.


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mcaplinger
post Sep 7 2007, 04:48 PM
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QUOTE (algorimancer @ Sep 7 2007, 06:39 AM) *
Anyone else think this would be a good idea? I'm not entirely sure how best to go about establishing this relationship, but we already have some members of the MSL team onboard here.

I'll be more than happy to answer what questions I can about data formats, camera models, etc. but I don't think a formal collaboration is in the cards, at least for the science cameras, whether it's a good idea or not.
QUOTE
and I'm sure we'd all enjoy sharing opinions about mission planning smile.gif

Sorry, but I think we have enough trouble with the mission planning opinions that are already available rolleyes.gif


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Guest_AlexBlackwell_*
post Sep 7 2007, 05:27 PM
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QUOTE (mcaplinger @ Sep 7 2007, 06:48 AM) *
I'll be more than happy to answer what questions I can about data formats, camera models, etc. but I don't think a formal collaboration is in the cards, at least for the science cameras, whether it's a good idea or not.

Oh well, I guess when MSL comes around some UMSFers are going to be experiencing PSTSD (Post Squyres Traumatic Stress Disorder) laugh.gif
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Nix
post Sep 7 2007, 07:04 PM
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Something collaborative regarding MSL has been on my mind too! We have plenty of talent in the house..

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Guest_AlexBlackwell_*
post Sep 7 2007, 07:09 PM
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QUOTE (Nix @ Sep 7 2007, 09:04 AM) *
Something collaborative regarding MSL has been on my mind too! We have plenty of talent in the house..

The other side of this putative collaborative effort apparently isn't interested, and it takes two to tango.
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mcaplinger
post Sep 7 2007, 08:18 PM
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QUOTE (AlexBlackwell @ Sep 7 2007, 10:27 AM) *
Oh well, I guess when MSL comes around some UMSFers are going to be experiencing PSTSD (Post Squyres Traumatic Stress Disorder) laugh.gif

Exactly what kind of formal collaboration has Squyres supported? AFAIK the MSL data availability will be just as good as it is with MER. But I'm not on the science team and I don't speak for the science team or anybody but myself on this forum.


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slinted
post Sep 7 2007, 08:24 PM
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This sounds like a great idea. Planning and organizing any sort of collaboration will require effort on both sides of the table, and talking through how that could be done well before landing would give all parties time to plan a solid cooperation.

As for a few starting questions: shy of any formal arrangement between the PIs and the amateur community, what is the plan for public image release? MSSS has relied on press releases or 'image of the day' for previous missions, is there any expanded plan for MSL? Will MastCam/MAHLI be posting all images in realtime, a-la MER and Cassini? If so, will they be de-bayered, auto-stretched, or calibrated before release? Will any ancillary (PDS-tag-esque) data be provided with those images?

Having knowledge of the public image release policy seems necessary before we can suggest any expansion beyond that. The amateur community has a great deal to offer to the professionals and vice-versa. Opening a dialog seems a natural and mutually beneficial step for both sides to take, given the proven capability of the amateur community (given minimal direction and assistance) for doing internet outreach on behalf of the PIs and mission managers.
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elakdawalla
post Sep 7 2007, 08:27 PM
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I've heard nothing about the plans for MSL but based on the popularity of the MER and Cassini raw image output I'll bet you'll see the same from any mission that's managed by JPL.

Things may be different for PI-led missions though. MSL's a while in the future. In the shorter term, I'll be curious to see what gets put out from Phoenix, or Dawn for that matter.

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paxdan
post Sep 7 2007, 11:38 PM
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how about am-indie?
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nprev
post Sep 7 2007, 11:54 PM
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Yeah, I noticed that... smile.gif


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algorimancer
post Sep 8 2007, 01:02 PM
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QUOTE (mcaplinger @ Sep 7 2007, 11:48 AM) *
...happy to answer what questions I can about data formats, camera models...

Thank you, I very much appreciate that. I'm guessing that it is still early times for much of this sort of thing - I was surprised to learn that the Phoenix camera model calibration is underway while the spacecraft is in flight. Of course, the thing we'll all be interested in is the sort of web access to images and associated data which we can expect. I'm hoping that at a minimum we'll see more-or-less real-time availability of this sort of thing, ideally without the very lossy compression of images we're getting from MER prior to the formal posting on PDS. One difficulty I have with MER is that accessing the pancam tracking database is a little touchy in the sense that excessive access might lead to that access being restricted, and as a result none of our software products access it directly. If this information (vehicle orientation quaternion, camera orientation, image properties, etceteras) could be packaged in parallel with the publicly available imagery, that would be really helpful.

QUOTE (mcaplinger @ Sep 7 2007, 11:48 AM) *
...don't think a formal collaboration is in the cards, at least for the science cameras.

I'm not entirely clear as to what specific collaboration involving the science cameras might be attempted, other than sharing the software we develop (which we already do). It had occurred to me that we might direct our software development so as to meet some of the needs of the MSL team, and thus avoid the need of redundant in-house development.

QUOTE (mcaplinger @ Sep 7 2007, 11:48 AM) *
...enough trouble with the mission planning opinions that are already available rolleyes.gif

Darn!

At this point I'm mostly just trying to plant the seed of the notion of drawing upon the resources here at UMSF. I figure, get the MSL team thinking about it, then as applicable ideas arise over time, to have it become a topic of discussion at the planning meetings, possibly leading to something more serious. Simply conveying an awareness of the available resources would be a good first start. There is of course an understanding that the MSL team expects first crack at data analysis and publishing.
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algorimancer
post Sep 8 2007, 01:37 PM
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QUOTE (nprev @ Sep 7 2007, 09:36 AM) *
...The only problem I see is that the amateur products may need to be approved before release. Not only is review manifestly essential in order to validate scientific findings, but the pros must publish or perish themselves, and they might not appreciate being scooped by an am.


Agreed, validation and review are of course essential prior to any formal publication. Understanding that the pros live in the world of publish or perish should be fundamental assumption going into this (I work in biomechanics research myself - a couple of years ago I concluded that I have gotten over the idea of getting myself a Ph.D since all the doctorates I know spend most of their time writing grant applications and dealing with administrivia, leaving little time for actual research). I think that what UMSF brings to the table is the possibility for more publications than would otherwise be possible, at the minor expense of adding a co-author or acknowledgement.

It seems to me that, considering the expected pace of MSL and the volume of data returned, the MSL team may find itself a bit overwhelmed - more data than they have time or people to analyze in depth. UMSF may offer a mutually beneficial solution. Note that the contribution of UMSF need not be direct involvement in research, but might alternately involve facilitation of the infrastructure of the mission (software, hazard detection, identification of targets of opportunity, [naming rocks biggrin.gif ], etceteras) which allows the MSL team to spend more attention on research than they otherwise could.
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nprev
post Sep 8 2007, 01:48 PM
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Oh, okay...I'm with you now! How could they no to a bevy of grad-student-equivalent (but much more experienced!) volunteers to help lighten the load?... smile.gif

Not to rain on the parade, but there might be some ITAR/FOUO issues in the way, though. (Not likely, but possible.)


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CosmicRocker
post Sep 9 2007, 05:13 AM
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QUOTE (algorimancer @ Sep 8 2007, 08:02 AM) *
...Darn!

At this point I'm mostly just trying to plant the seed...
Planting a seed is an incremental step forward. wink.gif You can't necessarily expect a bumper crop the first year.


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