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Graphics Software Science

Deep Impact Comet-Smashing Video 133

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the mmm-delicious-space-porn dept.
DynaSoar writes "Dan Maas is the animation expert who produced NASA's Mars Rover animation which was subsequently used in the PBS Nova episodes 'Mars, Dead or Alive' and 'Welcome to Mars,' the majority of which was done while he was a Cornell student on a summer internship at NASA. His most recent release is NASA's best 'artist's conception' of the Tempel 1 Deep Impact mission. Nobody knows what will happen when 820 pounds of metal slams into the comet with 5 kilotons of force, but whatever happens, Maas's digital precreation is probably way more entertaining than NASA's imagery is likely to be. Two versions of the Deep Impact QuickTime video are available. A couple notes of interest: the original Mars video was produced as a music video, using Lenny Kravitz and Holst as soundtracks. This is available only to K-12 educators. Also, in the interview in the first link, when asked for an inspirational quote, he quotes John Carmack."
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Deep Impact Comet-Smashing Video

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  • by Transcendent (204992) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @09:41AM (#12914035)
    Is if running this damn thing into the comet puts it on a trajectory to hit Earth down the line...

    Talk about one of the biggest "oops" of all time...
  • by szyzyg (7313) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @10:25AM (#12914236)
    From the days when I was still an astronomer
    Impact video [arm.ac.uk] mostly fragments, looking kinda dated now. Of course I must include my essential link to the most complete map [arm.ac.uk] of the inner solar system.


    And I recently re-did some density visualizations [djsnm.com], a lot. more abstract, but cool in a trippy visuals kinda way.


    And finally - the most relevant - is an old movie I made to visualize a comet diverting mission, it's about 10 minutes and if shows a spacecraft [djsnm.com] flying through space with a nuke intended to give a nidge to an incoming comet. It's not great resolution, but I can't find the high definition versions that were used in a couple of TV shows. There are some ultra high definition stills in a book by Duncan Steel.

  • by Inspector Lopez (466767) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @10:53AM (#12914378) Journal
    I thought the animations of the Mars Rover landings were quite satisfactory, and were a genuine aid in conveying the critical and unusual sequence of events (unusual because of the beach ball landing scheme.). Of course, I wasn't expecting to be entertained by these videos; I was expecting to be educated. Entertainment is Lucas' job, and education is (part of) NASA's.

    Consider the adjacent Slashdot article about Lucas's new studio,
    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/06/26/133217 &tid=186&tid=101 [slashdot.org], which is nicely and expensively appointed to generate additional cinematic circuses. I'm sure that Lucas et al. could provide a splendid animation of the comet impact. But:
    1. Would you pay $10 to see it once?
    2. Do you expect NASA to produce it for "free"?
    3. Do you expect NASA to subcontract the video to a "real" CG house?
    The box office from the Star Wars movies, and related paraphernalia licensing, sufficed to pay for several Shuttle missions, or perhaps ten major satellite programs, or a century's worth of space science at NSF. It may be that these films have inspired a few people to go into science and engineering, But these films are, of course, pure fantasy in their depiction of space and space travel. I don't mean to diminish the splendid entertainment that Lucas offers, but I can't help the following comparison:
    The Star Wars movies are, to the perception of space travel, what pornography is to the perception of sex.


    Items 2 and 3 above will strongly impact NASA's budget; high quality CG added to a documentary structure could easily run in the mid seven figures for a single film. For a tenth that amount you can get Pretty Good results, and keep a hundred grad students in beer and chips for a year.

    Those hundred grad students will get you to Mars in twenty years. Or, you could help George Lucas buy a spare yacht today.
  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @11:49AM (#12914628)
    Tempel-1 isn't even a NEA. The orbit doesn't even cross the orbit of the earth.

    However, the orbit does occasionally pass near Jupiter. This makes its orbit chaotic and unpredictable over the very long term.

    One day, its orbit may get significantly altered by one or more close encounters to planets. It might end up being ejected from the solar system, sent into the sun, put into an earth-intersecting orbit, or countless other possibilities. It's unlikely that it will stay in its current orbit indefinitely.

    This impact will most likely change the ultimate fate of the comet's orbit over millions of years. (As will countless other events that affect the comet, such as changes in the solar wind due to solar flares.) The infinitesimal chance that it will eventually hit the earth due to this satellite is probably exactly balanced out by the infinitesimal chance that it was already going to hit the earth and we've just saved our planet.

  • Mars Rover IMAX (Score:3, Interesting)

    by captaineo (87164) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @08:41PM (#12917293)
    Hah pretty funny to wake up and see myself on the front page :).

    Three other artists and I are currently working on an IMAX film about the Mars Rover mission, to be released sometime next year. The image quality will be much better than my old NASA animation. We are re-creating the Rovers' actual environments on Mars using returned images and terrain data.

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