Mard Recon Probe Spots Viking Landers

It’s the spot in the center. For an idea of the size of the lander take a look at this photo of Carl Sagan posing next to a one to one scale model of a Viking lander. The two bright points on either end must be the wind covers over the RTG and propellant tanks.

NASA’s Viking Lander 2 landed on Mars on Sept. 3, 1976, in Utopia Planitia. The lander, which has a diameter of about 3 meters (10 feet), has been precisely located in this image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Also, likely locations have been found for the heat shield and back shell. The lander location has been confirmed by overlaying the lander-derived topographic contours on the high-resolution camera’s image, which provides an excellent match.

The camera on the probe is amazing, it was even able to capture pictures of Opportunity and Spirit as they were hanging out on the surface. I wonder if NASA will image the area where the Mars Polar Lander was lost so see what might be there.

[via New Scientist]

Viking Lander 1 (Thomas A. Mutch Memorial Station) Imaged from Orbit

Viking Lander 2 (Gerald A. Soffen Memorial Station) Imaged from Orbit

Auto Image Tags via ALIPR


In the endless battle of too many photos vs. too little time a program was born. This program can identify objects, places, colors, and even people within the photos that are given to it. After each photo is analyzed a selection of possible tags are given to the user for final approval. Select as many or as few as you think describe the scene or add your own. With the help of online users everywhere this tool will learn and be able to zero in on the exact image information that a real person would add for the image. I’ve tried it out with a number of photos and it does a pretty good job. I think if people do a good job teaching the software whats what it’s going to be a great tool. I can see Google or Flickr going this route someday.

[via Roland Piquepaille’s Technology Trends]

Automatic Lingustic Indexing of Picturesm – In Real Time

Remote Head-Mount Gyroscope-Controlled Camera Plane


Ooo, an R/C plane with a cockpit mounted micro video camera/transmitter that’s slaved to a gyro on the pilots head. Lots of discussion here. Video here, here, and here (best by far, lots of close passes with the ground).

Pretty much the idea is that the camera is sending a cockpit point of view back to the pilot where he views it on a set of head mounted goggles. To add a bit of extra zing to the equation the camera pans and tilts in response to the wearers head movements. You can see the fun that could be had with this, eh? Telepresence is amazing!

Some specs and build notes from the discussion group: (prices in Canadian I think)

My equipment is old. New equipment:
cam: $99
video tx/rx: around $150
antenna: 8dbi patch (optional) around $60
amateur radio license is req’d because you need to exceed 10mw of power.(it’s not hard to get and inexpensive in Canada)
and also it’s easy to plug, but not easy to get good video link without video dropout. It’s not easy to explain everything for me to someone who don’t have good electronic skill, for now it’s not for everyone.
The cam in this setup is glue on a servo and allow 45 deg of panning, the servo is plug in the rudder channel if not use or on slider etc. The servo can be modified to 180 deg easily by adding two resistor on pot. lead or buying a special circuit.

Remote Head-Mount Gyroscope-Controlled Camera Plane

Photoplane – Pinhole Camera of the Sky

Pinhole camera R/C rig

Pinhole camera of the skyCruising over city buildings, a small remote controlled plane attempts to hold steady, very steady. With a flick of a switch the ground controller send a signal that commands the plane to activate a small servo. One one thousand, two one thousand. The switch is reversed and the servo returns to its former position. The plane starts it’s decent to the field. What just happened? Would you believe that the plot of the remotely operated aircraft just took a photo of the buildings using a pinhole camera? By using fast film (ISO 1600) Daniel is able to take surprisingly sharp photos. Go have a look at his blog and take a look you might be inspired to build your own.



Robots Are Getting Smarter

s-bot swarm-bot Ok, the title is a little misleading, its not that the robots themselves are getting smarter it’s that the programming is getting better.

A "swarm" of simple-minded robots that teams up to move an object too heavy for them to manage individually has been demonstrated by robotics researchers.
The robots cannot communicate and must act only on what they can see around them. They follow simple rules to fulfil their task – mimicking the way insects work together in a swarm.

See? Nothing to worry about, no robot revolt is on the horizon. Well, the horizon is a long way off at any rate. But I will say, let me be the first to welcome our new robot masters. Let their reign be long and benevolent.

Robot swarm works together to shift heavy objects – tech – 17 October 2006 – New Scientist Tech

Swarm-bots website