September 4, 2010
And the Walls Came Tumbling Down
LROC WAC image processed by Maurice Collins, New Zealand
In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell and millions of people were liberated. Today, a techno-barrier has crumbled and billions of pixels are free. The analogy is over-wrought but reflects the feeling of elation that what had once been locked up is now available for widespread use. The LRO camera scientists were not trying to keep the magnificent Wide Angle Camera images from being used, indeed the WAC files are readily accessible, but no software had been released to process them so that useful images could be reconstructed. In the last few days a revolutionary wave of amateur innovations has seen John Moore manually assemble WAC images, Rick Evans write software to work with other programs to automate the process, and yesterday Jim Mosher wrote a quick, utility program for LTVT to make processing WAC files easier still. The huge WAC repository of thousands of best ever images of the Moon is now wide open. Here is the best ever image of Cassini, processed with Jim's program by Maurice. A cautionary note is that the process of innovation is not over. These unofficial WAC images have only been unpacked from the data files. There are geometric distortions yet to be removed (see the far right edge) and radiometric calibrations are required for photometrically precise images. But these liberated images are terrifically useful as is, and I have no doubt that totally corrected images will appear. And then the next wall can be breached - construction of full color WAC images. Great thanks to Jim Mosher and all the rest of the entrepreneurial amateur community!
I hope that Maurice and his family are safe after the magnitude 7 earthquake there.
Jim's program and additional discussion.
Rükl plate 12