Anyway, if astronomy in general and Mars in particular make you giddy, then the hard work which poured out of 3D Artist Doug Ellison should excite you. Mr. Ellison spent quite a bit of blood, sweat and tears (well, I'm not sure how bleeding was involved) creating a virtual "fly-by" of Mars with stills pulled from the USGS' HiRISE image cache online that were taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The result? Simply stunning, if you ask me, and really, why WOULDN'T you ask me? I mean seriously.
Here is the video:
Tech news site Gizmodo explains Doug Ellison's feat:
The flyby uses 3D data gathered from HiRISE, the 0.5-meter reflecting telescope on board NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The 3D data set was calculated by comparing HiRISE's ultra-crispy images taken from two different points of view. The photos were matched using picture recognition software and converted in a 3D surface map using the position of the orbiter. The result is the most accurate terrain information on the surface of Mars yet. The best thing: All this data is being published by NASA for everyone to use.
I always dreamed of hopping on a spacecraft of some sort and slingshotting towards distant planets with reckless abandon (it was a bit later in life, however, that blowing up asteroids like in the movie Armageddon became part of that fantasy). Now, I can do that whilst I sit at my MacBook, sipping chocolate milk and being unapologetically un-showered.