It was amazing to see everyone in person again this year at LPSC 2023. It was the first time I had been to a conference in person since the pandemic. Even though people wore masks and everything appeared to be relatively safe, still a number of people came down with a COVID infection. (To my knowledge, must cases were mild. Although I didn’t hear about anything serious, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t.)
I put a lot of work into two poster presentations of my own and contributed to others as well. Fieldwork in Hawaii yielded some pretty impressive results from an experiment that I designed, built and tested. Here’s a link to the abstract and some cool 360 degree panospheres inside the lava tubes at Mauna Loa!
Work on mapping fluvial systems on Alba Mons has progressed well and is probably coming to a close. I presented results from that study and preliminary results from Amphitrites Patera. Here’s a link to our abstract and a nice write up on PSI’s website.
Perspective view of a hill shade topographic model of Alba Mons, Mars looking from the northeast. A map of interpolated drainage density is projected. The darker the blue color, the higher the concentration of mapped valley networks. Hopefully publishing these results soon…
My main function: analyze geospatial data on the computer. The data show images looking down at Earth and Mars and are interesting to look at: lava flows, sand dunes, river channels, mountains. These are valuable to science, but the patterns and abstractness have artistic value. Many people recognize this and celebrate this by contributing to The Art of Planetary Science Exhibition in Tucson, AZ. There were many submissions from almost a hundred artists, and I’m happy to be one this year in 2018. I carved a HiRISE DTM, my first completed 3D carve of topography. I’m happy with the way it turned out!
Description of Piece: A place on Mars in miniature Fissure and Channel Southeast of Olympus Mons. Carved by a homemade computer numerical control (CNC) milling machine; surface tone painted by hand. Image data were provided by The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera in orbit around Mars, which were processed into a digital terrain model by the HiRISE Science Team.
The location of the data is from a location (square mark) east of Olympus Mons, Mars.
Perspective digital rendering of the HiRISE visible image data showing the fissure and channels.
Perspective digital rendering of the HiRISE DTM data.
This is the table top of my CNC machine. On the right is a practice carve, aka, attempt No. 1.
Carving in progress. You can’t see the spindle and milling bit because of the dust shoe. A 4″ hose is connected to a blower, pulling dust off the piece as it carves.
This is the completed carve after roughing (1/4″ square end mill, 1500 mmpm, 3 mm doc) and finishing (1/16″ ball end mill, 1500 mmpm, 0.254 doc, 0.33 mm stepover). I would definitely do it differently next time as I made many mistakes. Even though a machine is doing the carving, there are still plenty of “artistic” choice to make.
Because of the scale of the model, topography is subtle. The large cut in the middle is actually about 500 meters wide. On the model, it’s only about 1.5 cm.
Finished it with a black border, a typical view when viewing satellite data on a computer. Hand painted the surface. Ready for this weekend’s exhibition.
Just another view. I was experimenting with the piece upside down. (The bottom is North.)
I have to admit: Flying an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) such as the Trimble UX5-HP is a lot easier than flying a kite over lava flows. We covered several square kilometers in no time with this bird! There were two location: the south of Iceland (the Laki lava flow) and in the north of Iceland (the Holuhraun lava flow). We worked with a great group of students in the field participating in the Keck Geology Consortium. They helped us run our mobile UAV airport! I’ll post more details about our field work and the student projects soon. For now, here are a few images of us doing our volcanological mapping. The data will result in orthoimage data at 1-4 cm per pixel, and digital terrain models at 10 cm per pixel!
This is a taste of the data we’re creating at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. On the left is an orthoimage of a series of cones along a fissure in the Laki lava flow. On the right is a colorized digital terrain model (DTM) of the same area. No scale; map oriented north.
Setting up for launch near the Holuhraun lava flow
Ground control; our mobile UAV port.
Stepping through launch preparations with Dr. Christopher Hamilton.
Removing the pitot tube cover just before launch.
Somewhere out there is an expensive bird that we’re tracking.
Going through post-flight checklist.
It took several flights to cover the area surrounding the vent of the Holuhraun lava flow with the UX5-HP.