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MER feature and target names


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Hi - I use the Notebook frequently for monitoring missions and finding data. Very useful, a great resource. But I want to ask about the names of features (such as small rocks or craters) and science targets on them.


OK, so for MER I go to the site maps and I can make a map of a site out to a specified distance with feature names on it. I have overlaid those maps on vertical projection mosaics to identify rocks at some sites. (Why? I'm beginning to compile a map and image-based history of MER operations, having just done it for Viking and Pathfinder in a book due out next year).


But... first, it's an inefficient way to find all named features. This is even worse at the Phoenix notebook where I can call up a list of names, then get an annotated photo of it, some of which don't show the named feature or are ambiguous in other ways - but at Phoenix, one site, a more efficient solution would be a panorama with labelled names right on it, as was done for Pathfinder. For MER, a series of labelled pans would be needed. Or maybe an album of photos, organized by site, then by name, showing the named feature and targets.


Second... it seems to me that as we go on in the mission, fewer and fewer names are being recorded in this way. I could be wrong in this example, but I don't think the craters in the Resolution crater cluster (Opportunity) are all available in the MER site maps.


Third, names pile up on other names until they are illegible in some cases.


The MER mission must have records of names used, to avoid duplication. Can we assume the records of names will one day be made available via the Notebook? I would point out that a much better record of feature names must have existed during Phoenix, but the current Phoenix Notebook system of name access is incomplete and cumbersome to say the least. Since names are important for tying observations to places (where is that RAT hole anyway?) an easy-to-use, efficient source of names is very desirable. Maybe MSL can plan for this from the beginning.


Thanks! - Phil Stooke

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Phil -


Thanks for your interest in the Notebook. I absolutely agree that the features/targets listing is lacking in the Notebook at present. For MER, the targets listed right now are taken from the science activity plans, and they occur only when a planner typed in the name of the target for a given observation. For Phoenix, targets were culled from a table provided by the science team, with varying levels of success for placement within finder frames.


We recently received a table of MER features from the science team and a working to incorporate the data within the Notebook. We are rolling this update in with some other "desirements", still a little ways off. We expect to be able to add features to the mosaics currently available in Mosaic Viewer (http://an.rsl.wustl.edu/mv/) as well. The plan is then to retrofit the same solution to the Phoenix site, as there are many similarities in the way the two missions operated.


The final solution will still have some ambiguity, though. Early in the MER mission, target positions did not get "saved" from one sol to the next. That means that someone had to recreate a target if they wanted it the next day, and the positioning was not always the same. Nevertheless, working from this new data source should make for better information.

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  • 6 months later...

Hi Tom - it was good to see the feature names being worked on when I saw the demo at LPSC. I am looking at Opportunity at the moment, and I certainly look forward to seeing the MER feature names when that function is available. (I know how time-consuming it is!). Right now the Notebook does not have the new name system, but it also has lost the old names function on the site maps. I can wait for the new version with names plotted on panoramas, but I would use the old system in the meantime if it were still available. To help me schedule that aspect of my work, can you suggest when feature names might be working again, one way or the other? Thanks! Phil

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