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Unmanned Spaceflight.com > Mars & Missions > Orbiters > Mars Express & Beagle 2
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djellison
I heard about this 24 hours ago, and couldn't believe it - this is EXACTLY what has been missing from ESA. MASSIVE kudos to the ESOC MEX flight ops team for doing it

http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/VMC/index.html

The last time I wrote a post and hit 'submit' at UMSF with a smile this big on my face, was when Oppy successfully got out of Purgatory.
djellison
FWIW - I've attempted to debayer a tiny piece of image, by hand (using a 90x1 pixel selection again and again, to select alternate rows to cut them to a new layer - then again on columns, to split it into 4 layers. Then, I figured out which were the blue ones ( the darkest ) and from that established the red and the green. I then duplicated those layers to fill out the 2x2 pattern, and then copied into channels on a new image.

Hopefully someone will figure out a better method of doing this smile.gif

Click to view attachment
djellison
I THINK I got a bit cleverer in making selections - this may or may not be accurate.
Stu
ESA often get a hard time here for what they do - or don't do - but this is a BIG step in the right direction, and shows that ESA really are trying to do more with the wealth of data and material they have. As Doug said, congratulations to everyone involved, and here's hoping the site attracts a lot of attention, not just from dyed-in-the-wool spaceflight enthusiasts like ourselves, but from the public too. Will definitely be worth keeping an eye on, looking out for great images. I can hear my hard drive groaning already... smile.gif

And yaaay! An ESA crescent Mars image at last!!! Great job! tongue.gif
PDP8E

I always though that the Lunar Prospector team was absolutely CRAZY by not taking any type of camera to the Moon.

They did manage to bring an Alpha Spectrometer, Electron Reflectometer, Magnetometer, Neutron Spectrometer, and a Doppler Gravity thing-a-ma-jig.

Lunar Prospector was in a low polar orbit! and not a single image.
Then they decided to crash it into the Moon's south pole!
Any snapshot from a couple hundred meters would have been iconic.

And now, if you are not a Lunar scientist or a UMSF'er, the impact of Lunar Prosepector (pun intended) is ZERO

Note to spacecraft all designers: this non-science type of camera (MEX-VMC) is worth putting on all future space craft.
This is outreach at its best. This is how to capture the imagination of that next person.

This camera represents how we all pack for any trip ...DONT FOR GET THE CAMERA....and unmanned space craft take the most amazing trips!

Bravo to ESA and the MEXMARS Webcam! (...tons of images in the VMC archive...!)
ugordan
Wow, great work, Doug. My method of making a Bayer mask in Photoshop doesn't exactly work as I'd hoped. A new approach is in order.

Here's a messed-around crescent view, with an ad-hoc color balance. Might be completely wrong.
Click to view attachment
djellison
QUOTE (PDP8E @ Aug 22 2008, 04:24 PM) *
I always though that the Lunar Prospector team was absolutely CRAZY by not taking any type of camera to the Moon.


Spinning at 12rpm does kind of making taking pictures a bit hard - and if you do some research on the long term history of LP...it had NO money - none at all.

Doug
Tman
QUOTE (ugordan @ Aug 22 2008, 05:25 PM) *
Here's a messed-around crescent view, with an ad-hoc color balance. Might be completely wrong.

But absolutely a gorgeous perspective!
djellison
Oh boy oh boy


http://esamultimedia.esa.int/multimedia/vm...46/target0.html



ugordan
I'm gonna give it a go at writing an app for automatically converting the raw files into RGB. Doug, have you figured out what the exact Bayer matrix looks like, starting from top left - I'd rather not try reinventing the wheel?

EDIT: Nevermind, I think I have it figured out.
Juramike
Even better, it looks like they'd like submissions of your best images!
http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/VMC/SEMANKXIPIF_0.html

BTW, here is the syntax for the filenames of the individual jpeg images:
QUOTE
YY_DOY_hh_mm_ss_image-sequence-number.extension

For example: 08_213_14_25_16_vmc_img_no_8.jpg was:

* Taken in 2008
* On Day of the Year 213 (31 July)
* At 14:25:16 (hr:min:sec) UTC
* And is the eighth image taken in a series


Go ESA!

[Could they please do this for Venus too?]


Paolo Amoroso
Does the Picasa logo on VMC images imply that they are hosted at the popular photo sharing site? If so, double kudos to ESA.


Paolo Amoroso
ugordan
I've got a basic app going, it performs a rudimentary interpolation (if someone knows of a good de-Bayer algorithm, I'm open for suggestions) of the RGB data. When I clean it up a bit and sort out a command line interface I'll release it. Any requests in the meantime? biggrin.gif

In the meantime, two gif animations:

A crescent (2.3 MB) and a partially overexposed north->south flyover (3 MB). Looks like the camera could benefit from a flatfield frame, if one were to be made. For some reason the RAW frames appear to be truncated in the ZIP archives, the last frame the most.
Tman
Very nice Gordan!

What could that illuminated be behind the terminator http://esamultimedia.esa.int/multimedia/vm...20/target7.html

Something atmospherical or even one of the volcanos that get also already sunshine?
Paolo Amoroso
QUOTE (Paolo Amoroso @ Aug 22 2008, 06:42 PM) *
Does the Picasa logo on VMC images imply that they are hosted at the popular photo sharing site?

Or maybe it's just a gallery generated with Picasa.


Paolo Amoroso
Paolo Amoroso
Are you able to use the Celestia scripts? I downloaded a ZIP file with images and the corresponding script, placed them in the same folder and run the script with Celestia 1.4.1 under MacOS X. But nothing happens.


Paolo Amoroso
tedstryk
QUOTE (Juramike @ Aug 22 2008, 04:37 PM) *
[Could they please do this for Venus too?]

http://www.unmannedspaceflight.com/index.p...mp;#entry124259
ugordan
Nice catch, Tman! Looks like clouds to me, rotating into view over the terminator. Judging by the timestamps this would make the original imagery upside-down. Here's an animated gif (click to enlarge):

djellison
QUOTE (ugordan @ Aug 22 2008, 07:00 PM) *
When I clean it up a bit and sort out a command line interface I'll release it.


Well that took AGES! smile.gif

I'm happy to er.... 'beta test' it smile.gif

Doug
ugordan
To be honest, coding that particular bit was easy. I find providing a command line interface is more tedious and boring work. I'd still like to implement a better interpolation technique, something similiar to what digital cameras do.

Anyway, a couple of new takeouts, these have saturation kicked up. I don't know why the original images look so desaturated.

Click to view attachmentClick to view attachment
Click to view attachmentClick to view attachment
Click to view attachmentClick to view attachment
Stu
Hmmm... why do the words "Kids", "new toys" and "Christmas" spring to mind...? laugh.gif
djellison
I was thinking 'pig' and err...'poo'


slinted
Kudos to the ESA and MEX teams! This is an exciting and inventive way to engage the public through existing hardware.

QUOTE (ugordan @ Aug 22 2008, 01:34 PM) *
I'd still like to implement a better interpolation technique, something similiar to what digital cameras do.

Great work ugordan, it looks like you have these files well in hand. If you're looking for more advanced de-bayering, dcraw might be a good reference. It includes 3 different methods beyond bilinear. In terms of the color, do we know if there are any spec or calibration documents online? Pixel responsivity would be mighty helpful.
Astro0
QUOTE (Paolo Amoroso @ Aug 23 2008, 04:36 AM) *
..placed them in the same folder and run the script with Celestia 1.4.1 under MacOS X. But nothing happens.


Paolo,

I think that the intention with the Celestia script is just to show where MEX was at the time that the image was taken. Reading from their website it says that this will help users determine what surface features are visible and the timing of the images available. While the images are available in a folder of the same name as the script, I don't see that they are related beyond that. Simply a way to compare the Mars Webcam images to a visualisation of the same region using Celestia.

Astro0
Paolo Amoroso
QUOTE (Astro0 @ Aug 23 2008, 05:57 AM) *
I think that the intention with the Celestia script is just to show where MEX was at the time that the image was taken.

For each image, the script calls functions for selecting Mars and tracking it, which are supposed to bring the planet in the field of view. But I see only an empty star field. Also according to the script, the "M" and "N" should move to the next or previous image location, but this doesn't work. I don't see the instructions that the script should display, either.

Hmmm... I'd better check whether the version of Celestia I am using was compiled with support for the Lua language required by the VMC scripts.


Paolo Amoroso
ugordan
A dodgy first version of the tool:
Click to view attachment
It takes an input RAW file and writes out a PNG with the same filename and adds a "_rgb.png" suffix. For example:

CODE
VMC2RGB "08-183 12.23.52 VMC Img No 6.raw"

will produce "08-183 12.23.52 VMC Img No 6_rgb.png". Note that in windows command line prompt you need to use double quotes for filenames containing spaces such as these. The end qoute is not strictly necessary. If you associate the *.RAW file extension to the program (or if you just drag-n-drop the image on the program icon) you don't have to worry about this.

Also, the tool is dumb in that it will interpret any file you feed it as a 640x480 raw stream. I suppose I could make it grab PNGs as well sometime.

I'll consider adding an improved interpolation as slinted suggested later. I've done some reading and apparently the Bayer filter outputs have a fair amount of inter-channel "crosstalk" that causes saturation to go down which might explain the low saturation in these images. This is usually automatically handled by digital cameras with internal saturation boosting, in this particular case Photoshop's your friend.
Paolo Amoroso
QUOTE (Paolo Amoroso @ Aug 23 2008, 02:27 PM) *
Hmmm... I'd better check whether the version of Celestia I am using was compiled with support for the Lua language required by the VMC scripts.

I've checked, the Celestia version I am using does support Lua.


Paolo Amoroso
Astro0
Paolo, see if you can download Celestia 1.5.0. It runs the .cel script with no problems (perhaps a little slow to start, but then it hums along).
Astro0
jekbradbury
For those who would rather not manually run each of the 80-odd VMC pics through the demosaicker, here is a 16Mb zip of all VMC images to date demosaicked and PNGified with vmc2rgb:

http://www.filedropper.com/mexvmc

These images remind me of the early Mariner pics of Mars: albedo features, maybe a mountain or two, with some craters thrown in. It's also interesting how the CCD has a Bayer filter, yet the main use of the camera did not require color capabilities.
Paolo Amoroso
QUOTE (Astro0 @ Aug 24 2008, 01:32 AM) *
Paolo, see if you can download Celestia 1.5.0. It runs the .cel script with no problems (perhaps a little slow to start, but then it hums along).

This did the trick, thanks. I upgraded to Celestia 1.5.1 and the VMC script worked. At first it didn't occur to me to try an upgrade because the script didn't mention dependence on any specific version of Celestia.


Paolo Amoroso
Tman
The VMC public gallery has opened http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/VMC/SEM3FR0SAKF_mg_1.html
Stu
In advance of him joining UMSF I've been asked to pass on greetings and a couple of messages from Thomas Orsmton, who is the "VMC team coordinator from the technical side on the Mars Express Flight Control Team":

"...all of us here on Mars Express have been very impressed with the work being done by members on the forum and we've been downloading and playing with ugordons' colour extraction application too. "

... and...


"...I would be very grateful if you could pass on the message on the forum that all of us on Mars Express are really pleased with what people on the forum are doing and would strongly urge them to send their results to us at vmc@esa.int, with the details at the bottom of this page: http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/VMC/SEMANKXIPIF_0.html. "

So there you go! Nice to know all of your efforts are appreciated, you Imagemages out there, and keep up the good work! smile.gif
ormstont
Thanks to Stu for passing on the message, I'm registered now and can pass on my thanks to you all once more for the wonderful work you've been doing with our VMC images. I hope that through this forum I can keep in touch with you all as the VMC project continues, with this instrument we're just the tool, you'll be making the discoveries! Especially the users here on Unmanned Spaceflight forum have given one of the warmest welcomes to this new initiative so it's great to be in touch with you directly.

As Stu passed on, I'd really urge you to send in your results to vmc@esa.int - Daniel runs our website at ESOC and we'd love to publish your VMC results along with the routine updates as we get them from the spacecraft. With him looking after the website I look after the camera (as much as I can - my 'day job' is power and comms on the spacecraft) so if you've got any suggestions on what we should do with it that might help us too (although we are heavily limited by operational constraints - with the wonderful results we get from our science instruments the science mission must come first!).

I'm open to questions on the e-mail or here on the forum - if we keep the images coming you can help keep VMC fresh with new processing techniques, image analysis and ideas for the future. VMC is meant to be everyone's camera, I hope that despite our somewhat basic images we can still get some wonderful results.
imipak
I'm only an "armchair UMSFer", with no image manipulation skills, but as such I'm delighted to see images flowing from ESA, and I'm equally delighted to see your post. Welcome aboard, ormstont!
Juramike
Here is an GIF animation I made from a sequence of MEX VMC images taken on July 31, 2008. (here).

I think it shows a cloud near the terminator under the changing lighting conditions of sunrise:

Click to view attachment

(Anybody recognize the location? I couldn't figure it out!)

-Mike

[EDIT 9/16/2008 00:04 EDT: OK I think this cloud is over the highlands near Kepler Crater at [-47S, 220W] in Terra Cimmeria]
Paolo Amoroso
QUOTE (ormstont @ Aug 27 2008, 09:18 PM) *
I'm open to questions on the e-mail or here on the forum - if we keep the images coming you can help keep VMC fresh with new processing techniques, image analysis and ideas for the future.

Speaking of ideas, are there any operational constraints that prevent imaging Phobos or Deimos with VMC?

Thanks to you and the MEX team for the great images and opportunities.


Paolo Amoroso
ormstont
Phobos and Deimos would both be fun targets, the biggest problem is the distance between them and the spacecraft (and the relatively low resolution of VMC). Even with our high-altitude pericentre (~10,000 km) we'd have issues imaging Deimos (as it's quite a bit further out). We do come pretty close to Phobos at times but on those opportunities we usually use our primary science instruments to observe (see some results of the recent campaign here: http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Mars_Express/SEM5H48N9JF_0.html) and VMC is not allowed to be ON with other instruments. That said I'll keep my eyes out for any encounters where we could try something with VMC.

Maybe someone on the forum would like to do a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation to see at what range we'd start to be able to resolve the moons. This would of course rely on working out the resolution of VMC from Martian features, which again might be a fun job for someone if anyone fancies it!
chiron
Hi everybody

I worked the last days on a program for automatic conversion of the VMC images.

The version i provieded on my website at http://www.bernd-leitenberger.de/download/vmc.zip

The Help is missing but will added in the next update.

Whats working is:

- Demosaiking of the bayer mask
- Removing of Hot Pixels

What must be made better is :

- Correction of the color and saturation
- Better debayer Filter (still big differences between near pixels)

I recommend to process the files (multiply can be selected in the open dialog) by it and then use a image processing tool to adjust saturation and to do an unsharp mask.

When someone has more experience with image processing i would be glad if he can provide me with an better debayer algorithm

The program runs under Windows XP , i think also under other Windows version from 98 up.
tedstryk
I had a go at the July 29, 2008 dataset. Man, this is some tough stuff to work with!

Click to view attachment
ormstont
Tough stuff to work with indeed wink.gif makes it all the more impressive when you produce something like that image - it's going up on the wall in the control room for sure! Great work there Ted, I'll ask Daniel to put it on the website as soon as we can (although with Rosetta's Steins flyby next week he's pretty busy!).

Got two observations from last week that we've just downlinked from the spacecraft too, and there should be 4 (I believe) more over the weekend...but I'm taking a brief holiday Monday and Tuesday so they might have to wait til Wednesday I'm afraid! Keep up the good work!
tedstryk
Thanks! I am headed out on vacation, but I will try some more images when I get back on Monday.

Ted
Juramike
Assembled mosaic from June 22, 2008 series of images (specifically image 3, 6, 9, and 12):

Click to view attachment

Argyre Planitia above the south pole.
[EDIT 20080916 00:14 EDT: This is an image of Huygens Crater at center[-15S, 305W] above the bright Hellas Basin (lowest point) and the Terra Sabaea is to the right, and the dark zone to the NE of Huygens Crater is Syrtis Major.]

-Mike
Juramike
Handy little guide and detailed explanation of the outreach plan for the MEX VMC:

http://esamultimedia.esa.int/multimedia/esoc/Mars_Webcam.pdf

-Mike
JTN
QUOTE (Juramike @ Aug 30 2008, 04:56 AM) *

"the latency makes this camera the most recent available view of Mars from any spacecraft"

"It is also possible to add files containing the raw pixel values from VMC, as part of the future website developments [...]"

They slew the spacecraft specially for us VMC obs (albeit at times when the other instruments can't observe) -- that seems quite generous!

QUOTE (PDP8E @ Aug 22 2008, 04:24 PM) *
Note to spacecraft all designers: this non-science type of camera (MEX-VMC) is worth putting on all future space craft.

"The [VMC] design has flown on several ESA missions to date, including Ariane 502, Cluster-II, XMM-Newton and INTEGRAL. VMC cameras are currently also scheduled to fly on the Herschel-Planck ESA astronomy missions."
Paolo Amoroso
It would be useful for the VMC site to have an RSS feed for announcing new image releases.


Paolo Amoroso
ormstont
Sorry for being a bit quiet - as you can probably see from the ESA website we're going full steam ahead on the blog for the Rosetta Steins flyby tomorrow. Daniel who maintains the VMC website is hoping to get the latest images up soon. In particular you should take a look at the ones from the 29th August - there's something really strange on those pictures. Seems to be large (~100km is my rough calculation) and very bright, casting a dark shadow on the planet and the shadow is detached from the object. Doesn't seem to be anything on the map there so I'm puzzled...ideas on a postcard?!

P.S. Thanks for the idea for the RSS feed - we're definitely thinking of implementing that as soon as we can so you can get reminders of new images available.
Stu
re your "mystery object"...

Perhaps...?

ohmy.gif
ormstont
Definitely hoping for Martians (then we'd have something to blame spacecraft anomalies on!) wink.gif We're hoping to get the images up today...latest probably Monday - sorry to make you all wait!
ormstont
Ok...image gallery is online on the website, along with a couple of public submissions from UMSF members (more to come I'm sure!). We've got some more standard image galleries from August and September still to put online but these will come next week after things with Rosetta have calmed down.

Really interested to see what you make of this object!
djellison
That is unusual. At first I thought it might be a moon/shadow issue, but that close to the terminator the geometry is totally wrong. It's so close to the terminator, that can't be very tall.

It's a nice challenge - I like it.
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