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Our first banner. One of UMSF's early banners.

On the 8th of February 2004, a much younger Doug Ellison set up and made the very first posts on a new forum called Unmanned

Here are those very first posts: Welcome | First Image

Ten years and many, many more images and posts later, hundreds of members and guests regularly visit and contribute to these pages to share their enthusiasm for space exploration.

Thanks Doug for getting us all started on this journey. smile.gif

The byline in our Unmanned banner is 'exploring the solar system and beyond from the comfort of home'.

To celebrate that idea, here are some images of 'home' from across the solar system along with our 10th anniversary logo.

1.Click to view attachment 2.Click to view attachment

3.Click to view attachment4. Click to view attachment

1. Mars Exploration Rovers | 2. Voyager | 3. Cassini | 4. Curiosity

Two more wallpapers for good measure wink.gif

Click to view attachment Click to view attachment
By the way, it would be nice to hear from readers about their best memories or moments on UMSF or how they came to find the Forum originally. smile.gif
For me it was when Steve Squyres introduced me to the Forum on the day that Spirit reached the summit of Husband Hill. The rest is history!
Also, if you happen to tweet about UMSF's anniversary, use the hashtag #UMSF10
Who would have thought that the scrappy forum I threw up on spare webspace back in February 2004 would still be around today. I'm e a little bit proud, but largely astonished that people have stuck around despite my bombastic efforts as an admin smile.gif I know of at least two people who now have careers within the fields of space exploration and planetary science because of this place. That's probably what I'm most proud this place has achieved.

A huge thank you to the admin team - especially Glen, Emily, Dan - who do a far far better job of keeping this place in shape than I could ever have imagined doing myself.

Thanks must also go to Emily and the rest of The Planetary Society staff for giving UMSF a roof over its head since 2010

To the members, this dysfunctional, creative, brilliant, knowledgeable and inquisitive bunch crazy enough to call this place their exploration home - thanks for sharing your creativity with us and helping share the excitement of exploration with the rest of the world.

But the most thanks of all have to go to Steve Squyres and Jim Bell - for being brave enough to let us come along for the ride when Spirit and Opportunity landed ten years ago.

Who knows what adventures we will have, what landscapes we will see and what incredible discoveries will be made in the next ten years.


This forum is very special to me. It started on the very day of my 50th birthday...
Thanks for the best birthday present I'll ever have Doug.
Thanks to admins to have kept it this way up to my 60th birthday.
Thanks to the others for sharing your pictures and passion

ADMIN: From all of us on this day - happy birthday to you - we're in good company. smile.gif
I came here after doing a search on the rovers. It quickly became the first site I'd check in the morning. I am grateful to Doug for starting the forum and keeping it at a high level from the start. A lot of cool and knowledgeable people have posted. I look forward to Pluto!
Gilles, you're in good company, it's my birthday too wink.gif (number 39, for real). Glad to be a part of this place.
ADMIN: Seriously, this day is turning into a real party. Happy birthday Emily from all of us. smile.gif
Happy birthday to Gilles, Emily and, obviously, UMSF! smile.gif
I first got here from a link on Phil Plait's old Bad Astronomy forum right around the beginning, with the old domain (by who, I don't know). Lurked for six years, but I never looked back! I first figured out how special this place was when Doug interviewed Steve Squyres the first time:
(check post #5 for a not-so-accurate prediction on rover longevity wink.gif )

Thanks to the mods for the stability from the forces of chaos (to which I have unintentionally contributed on occasion!)
Here's to the next 10!
I was a bored space enthusiast/student with too much time on my hands and looking at many different space-related internet fora. There was a link in one of them to this place. I really enjoyed (and still do) all the magic images people make here and knowledge about things (mainly geology) about which I know nothing about. smile.gif Everyone has done a great jonb and hope to enjoy it for many more years!
Heck, it's being at home!
Thank you, Doug, it definitely wouldn't be the same without UMSF.
Looking forward for the Ithacas to come on the horizon in the next decade!
Fran Ontanaya
I joined when I saw on the news Oppy had been roving for two years, and I couldn't believe she was still working (yeah, about that...)

And one of my first forum memories: the high speed turtle!
I was searching for information about unmanned spacecraft fault protection systems for my MS thesis, and the rest is history. UMSF's been far more valuable to me than that stupid degree ever has been! smile.gif

The most amazing thing is that I've met a number of REALLY neat people and made some true friends thereby, some of whom I've actually met in person. That's just astonishing, really. This special place has had an extremely positive impact on many lives including mine.
Many Happy Returns & Thanks to everyone at UMSF, you epitomize the sharing of the joy of exploration...
...memorable highlight : Iapetus close ups coming down, what a night!
And, the best is yet to come... smile.gif
I was an occasional visitor to the yellow forum-- top result on google-- and got fed up with magenta scribbles on B&W rock pareidoila for the nth time and finally this place was ranking on google.
Wrote this on UMSF's 5th birthday:

And this sometime later:
Why I am here

Both still hold, and my attachment to this community has only grown in the meantime. We've gone through successes and failures, victories and disappointments, and have laughed and been reflective (just like in baseball, there's no crying in UMSF!). I've learned so much here, and hope that we can continue on with the high standards set, and met, to Mount Sharp, Ceres, Pluto, Charon, infinity, and beyond!

Member No. 9
QUOTE (elakdawalla @ Feb 9 2014, 05:32 AM) *
Gilles, you're in good company, it's my birthday too wink.gif (number 39, for real). Glad to be a part of this place.
ADMIN: Seriously, this day is turning into a real party. Happy birthday Emily from all of us. smile.gif

Thanks all and happy birthday Emily!
39, I guess it' Oppy's km so far...let's wheel.gif to 60...
"special cookie"...just noticed that I keep my rank after all this time. biggrin.gif
It's well-earned. smile.gif

Me, I'm going for "Master Of The Observable Universe" but the admin/mod team keeps votin' it down…they're pending for a bending!!! tongue.gif
For me personally (and a lot of people around me, too), UMSF has literally been a life-changing experience.
I'm very excited to see what the future brings.

<bleeping bleep!!!> Yes. smile.gif

You all DO realize that I'll be looking for job references once I retire from my current position, right? (Don't worry…not looking for anything that involves microphones because I'm real tired of melting the damn things…)
The earliest snapshot in the internet archive is from the 20th Feb 2004 - 12 days in. Banner is lost, but here is a screen-grab. So many memories. smile.gif
QUOTE (Astro0 @ Feb 8 2014, 10:52 PM) *

Our first banner.

Our first UMSF banner, post mer.rlproject was acutally:

I was 20, a young space enthusiast who had just entered university when I discovered the UMSF forum. I was so glad to find a forum for sharing my passion for space exploration. Now I'm nearly 30 with a PhD in planetology and I continue to go everyday on the forum to follow the epic journey of Oppy and Curiosity biggrin.gif
QUOTE (jamescanvin @ Feb 10 2014, 04:00 AM) *
The earliest snapshot in the internet archive is from the 20th Feb 2004 - 12 days in. Banner is lost, but here is a screen-grab. So many memories. smile.gif

Ah, yes -- every forum "owned" by Doug and by Alex Blackwell, the guy who e-mailed me about this place starting up. I was already a member at this point, member number 15, joined on 2/9/04. So, I have been here, in and out of lurker mode, for the entire 10 years.

It has added much to my life. Thanks for taking the leap of faith and setting this up for all of us, Doug!

-the other Doug
When did the MER Forums start up? I still think of the MER forums as the real beginning.
10 years ago. That's what we're celebrating. It's the same forum, it just got it's name changed after about a year.
It would be nice if Alex were to resurface and say hello.
Well, I joined the band quite late as you can see. I lurked for two years before posting. I got into deep trouble for that (I still remember a quite uncomfortable three-hour meeting with lawyers, and managers!). Still posting from time to time and trying to keep a low profile. Especially on the MER days you have no idea how many times UMSF, the mosaics and comments come up during our tactical shifts. Unfortunately I failed in trying to include this amazing group in the mission but I see that the enthusiasm and quality of work has not declined. Thank y'all.

Bombastic indeed ! ohmy.gif
QUOTE (jamescanvin @ Feb 10 2014, 09:38 PM) *
Our first UMSF banner, post mer.rlproject was acutally:

Ooh! I'd never seen that one before. Very retro!

Thanks James. We'll have to stick it in the archive. smile.gif
For those wondering where the UMSF logo came from - the little stylized spacecraft is a 3D version of the spacecraft icon from the plaque onboard the Pioneer spacecraft....

Bjorn Jonsson
QUOTE (jamescanvin @ Feb 10 2014, 10:00 AM) *
The earliest snapshot in the internet archive is from the 20th Feb 2004 - 12 days in. Banner is lost, but here is a screen-grab. So many memories. smile.gif

And with me as the newest member smile.gif. And this was 10 years ago - wow. Time flies.

UMSF has had a big 'indirect' effect on my image processing skills over the years (especially when dealing with really complex seamless mosaicking and shape from shading generation/processing). If I see that something (for example an exceptionally high quality in an image processing product) is possible it encourages me to try something comparable - usually with success if I have enough time available. But the biggest fun (and challenge) has been to experiment with something new (e.g. stereo and shape from shading DEMs, really big Voyager Jupiter color mosaics etc. etc.).
If I'm not mistaken, UMSF has also been the conduit for your work & that of many others to be published rather widely, Bjorn. That's a terrific thing right there…pure outreach with pure beauty. smile.gif
Whenever I look back at the beginning of the MER mission and the first years @ UMSF, I smile.

It was the first time in my life I really felt part of something.

That something was like a dream come true. I did not have the luck to be raised in a family where
education was stressed to be of vital importance, and by the time I realised this for myself, it had
become hard to catch up on anything, especially maths.

This frustrated me to hell. I was forced to start working at the age of 13 and in my spare time I read
Ciel et Espace, Astronomy and Sky & Telescope. I tried to catch up on math, at my own pace.

It was as if was two persons in one, a moaning & frustrated working class young man, and a kid that
kept 'dreaming' about graduating in astronomy.

In the years I worked I managed to educate myself a bit for the problems that
had arised at school I could not seem to make up for.
I bought myself a big telescope, learned photography, and combined the two for some basic astrophotography.

At the age of twenty, I bought myself a big fat computer my mother had kept promising me for over 5
years, and a high-class internet account. I learned everything I needed to learn about computers to work
with image data in general.

Then came Pathfinder and very soon I found myself downloading, archiving and processing colors and mosaics.
I remember the extreme joy of local contrast enhancement to isolate giant dust-devils in some of Pathfinder's

I could not share the images though since I lacked knowledge on html so I started learning about that.
But then I started working more, as it was needed, and then came children...
I began to accept I had become a 'viewer' and I could still enjoy astronomy and Mars in general and just be
happy being a hobby photographer and 'armchair'-amateur-astronomer.

But then, finally, one night, I watched Spirit's descent being broadcasted. As I write this I still shiver just
as back then... as I enjoy watching the people behind any mission today when a milestone is reached.
I started making time to download and processing 'pretty pictures' again, and I stumbled upon the 'MER'

Doug introduced me to PTgui, and then the fun began! I started sharing mosaics and panoramas and
this time I was not alone, there were others and I wasn't any longer the 'lone' geek playing around with
Photoshop. I explored other software, started reading technical articles, and cooperated with other
'Spaced out maniacs'. I got to meet Steven Squyres himself and Emily Lakdawalla thanks to Doug,
and got splendid source material for my panoramas thanks to 'slinted', who wrote software to create true
color calibrated data, and who sparked my interest for coding and automating some tasks.

After some years, my kids started needing more and more attention, and to keep this part as short as
possible, since 'nature' or 'god' or whatever you call it was the only reason for this; my wife got cancer.
I found myself frustrated again not having time to pursue my involvement on the forum, and tried to
stay optimistic. I missed out on a lot of things in the last months of her life, including the big change in
Doug's life, and many more exciting events and stories here on UMSF and elsewhere.
In my darkest hour, a few years back, I even wrote Doug to 'take me off the list', as I felt awkward
not having time nor the right set of mind to be of any value here.... but he would not accept. I'm forever
very thankful for that!
Last year I started to feel better again, my 'purple pills' started working ( laugh.gif ) and, all joking aside now,
I'm slowly succeeding to get back at 'living' again... I started promoting my photography work and I hope
for this 10th anniversary, to dig up some stuff from Spirit and Opportunity too, in these coming months.

I'm not telling this because I feel pitty for myself though, instead, I've learned to be proud of myself for
the things I've managed to achieve despite my childhood and happenstance, and to encourage others,
that whatever happens, you can learn from it and often, even use it to your advantage, if one accepts
'time', and effort.

My biggest achievement I cherish, is to witness the wisdom and knowledge I seem to pass on to my kids.
They have dreams just like I had; one of my daughters says she wants to visit the ISS one day. I will help
her with that, or for any dream they will have in the future, just by keep repeating that life is all about
learning, and practising what we've learned in a wise manner, with the future in mind, yet making sure to
enjoy each split-second of life today. Cause split-seconds are all we can call present, all the rest is past, or
unknown. I hope they have more luck than me, but it's still up to them of course...
This guy sums it up, really, in a letter to his daughters;

Thanks to all of you, for your understanding, your involvement and dedication, to one of the coolest
hangouts on the net!

And thank you, the MER team and Spirit & Opportunity, to be there, and share.

Thank you for sharing. I wonder how many other similar stories are tied to MER. I will make sure to mention how our work affects people on Earth next time I get asked why we explore Mars.

Looks like I missed all the fun while I was doing a trip in Britain, in France smile.gif.

I just want to wish a very happy 10 Years birthday to UMSF, on of the best places I know over the Internets smile.gif.

For me, it's the place where I have truly share my work. And thanks to Emily, Stu, and some other, outside the web, on paper, even on TV screens ! This place is inspiring to me and is giving me the envy to continue smile.gif

This is also the place where I met my guru : Olivier de Goursac. Thanks to his books, I literarily dreamt of Mars, touch the sands of the dunes near Viking 1, feel the cold air around Viking 2 during Winter. Thanks to him, I was able to conduct my work in the right way. And all of this will probably never happened without UMSF smile.gif.

So, happy FIRST 10 years UMSF wink.gif

Oh, and I would like to thank UMSFers about their tolerance concerning my transition smile.gif
As I see, in comparison with other members, I'm still newbie here. smile.gif
I also didn't found UMSF due to MERs but because of other missions, especially Voyagers, Galileo and Cassini.
UMSF was (and still is) place where I can found new products based on data from my favourite missions
and lots of answers on every questions.
I found here many friends and inspired by many members (Ted Stryk, Björn, Ugordan, Emily and others)
I begun with my own works and this was life changing experience for me
and for this I sincerely thank to this forum and its founder - Doug Ellison.
Very hearty thank you to Doug, Emily, Stu et al for growing a beautiful Tree of Knowledge. And very special thanks to posters and mods who have patiently answered my rather n00b-ish questions over the years! It has taken me a while to learn better discipline about simply asking something here when many of the answers to my questions are available on the webs if I dig a little deeper, which usually means those answers are already here in threads at UMSF! I often have a similar problem in markets. Just yesterday, I was looking for cat litter; I could see cat food, no litter. A uniformed worker walks by and I ask her where I can find the cat litter; she smiles and points right behind me. Voila! huh.gif

I am also grateful for many real-life friendships I have formed with participants here. smile.gif
@Paolo; I guess there's quite some stories tied to MER and other missions. I just felt like it was time to elaborate on my absence here for years, and sadly, the reason I have lost my domainname

But I'm working on something, especially this year!

Best regards and please, keep on 'rocking' us smile.gif

@Ant103; Thank you, for keeping up my link to on your website, as did Jim Bell, and Tedstryk. I'm working long days these last weeks to make those links 'working' again. I'll let you know the new name/extension for that when I'm done, as now is some chick's blog huh.gif

After nearly (10 years / 2.5 kposts) of activity, I decided to leave the forum.
It was a great stay, I met fantastic people and most of them appreciated my contribution ... Thank you for this!
I for one will miss your contributions to this Forum and hope you will return one day soon...
Dilo, your contributions will be greatly missed. The statistics you presented were like a good pie(chart)...a bit dry on the outside but full of juicy meat when chewed over. Thanks.
This is sad, when the actions of a few force old timers that helped make this forum so great feel they are no longer welcome. We all lose when this happens.

Stalwart, linchpin, statistician extraordinaire...what's happened??!
dilo - your stat posts have relieved my unceasing urge to see these rigs simply wheel.gif up to the highest peak, out to the best view, etc. It's like getting safe little spoon feedings of elevation and distance achievements that I can enjoy while all that boring science stuff goes on! rolleyes.gif

Anyway, I'm sorry for your decision - it's our loss.
You and your contributions to this forum will certainly be missed.
All good things come to an end (and who will replace you?!)
Phil Stooke
Sorry to lose your very useful contributions.

James Sorenson
Dilo, I will surly miss your excellent contributions aswell. You have been a great asset to UMSF. Take care, I hope you come back again someday. dd.gif wheel.gif pancam.gif
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