Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Roving Mars: IMAX and Orbiter

MER Spirit in Orbiter
The new Disney film "Roving Mars" is set to open in selected IMAX theaters this Friday (it looks like the closest one for me is in Providence, RI - surprising that there are no Massachusetts locations). This 40 minute film tells the story of the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) missions, and uses high resolution images pieced together from hundreds of smaller images sent back from Spirit and Opportunity in the last two years. The official site has a lot of information, including a trailer for the movie, production notes, timelines, pictures, and even a PDF educator guide. The New York Times has a good article about the movie and how it came to be made. It really looks amazing and I can't wait to see it.

The graphic here is not from the movie, it's from Orbiter (surprise!). The ground-level surface of Mars in Orbiter is not visually impressive (it's made for viewing from high altitude, and unless you install add-ons that create small 3D regions, it's smooth). So you won't be driving the rovers around and looking at rocks. But if you are interested in how the mission was flown, from liftoff in 2003 to the bouncing airbag landings in January 2004, the MER add-on from SimNASA will let you fly the missions for yourself.

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