Thursday, August 2, 2012

Why do I do this?

I am throwing a zombified lobotomized Omoikane back into the atomic banana peeler, just for its compute power. I have Unplugged All the Things (drives) and am going to run it just off of a USB stick with Ubuntu Precise on it.
I'm no Dan Maas. I don't have the time necessary to give this the attention it deserves. I don't have enough computer power to get a full model of both the lander and the terrain into view at once.

What I can do is easy. Spice kernels take all of the work out of predicting where things are. I don't need an aero model, I don't need a guidance program, I don't even need a numerical integrator.

So why do I bother? Especially in the face of this?

Because I like it. I love doing computer animations. I love collecting data and models. It's tradition started from Phoenix. If I had MER data I would probably do them too. And above all, Absurd Accuracy is Our Obsession. I have seen how SUFR works and how the balance masses deploy. They look weird, but a bit of though suggests its probably right. I have seen the lander scream into Gale Crater and descend against the backdrop of Mt Sharp. I have seen the parachute deploy and the backshell swing on it. I have seen the Skycrane Maneuver, and it doesn't look half as crazy as it once did. To be honest, its the part of powered descent before the skycrane that has me most worried.

Besides, it's not all bad. I finally found a nice map of Gale crater. So, my model of Mars lacks in detail, dozens or hundreds of meters resolution in topography, smaller but still large blocks in image map. Better is available, but not in color and difficult to mosaic. Besides, I don't have the memory for better. POV is particularly inefficient with meshes, and the maps I do have tax Aika's memory.

Anyway, with that map in place, with the backshell scorched, and so on, it looks good to me. Maybe I am comparable to Dan Maas. A little more time, a little more greeblies on the descent stage and rover (and perhaps Santa will bring me a copy of SolidWorks to do it with) and a little more patience and memory, and I might have a world-class animation. I at least hope to have a LASP-class animation to show on Sunday night.

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