Archive for February, 2009

When Barack Obama took his presidential oath on January 20, a piece of the Mars rovers was there to commemorate it. Sort of.

obamamarsAbout a year ago, two scientists from NASA Ames and Carnegie Mellon decided to bring the Mars Rovers’ panoramic photo capabilities back to Earth. The resulting gadget, called a Gigapan, is a robotic camera tripod that pans and tilts to automatically take enormous photos. I wrote about it about a month ago (also on January 20, coincidentally) for my internship at SLAC Today and symmetry–the webmaster at the Exploratorium took some pictures of SLAC’s linear accelerator. They’re extraordinary. You can click on any point in the image and zoom in almost indefinitely without losing resolution.

The picture above was taken by photographer David Bergman. You can find the fully zoomable Gigapan image here; NASA reported the history of the photograph here. According to the article,

You can see Hilary Clinton’s white earrings, Barbara Bush’s fuzzy black earmuffs, the word “Obama” stitched on spectators’ winter hats, Yo-Yo Ma taking a picture with his iPhone…

It’s so poetically satisfying. The Mars rovers (now in year five of their 90-day mission) are a perfect symbol of tenacity, resourcefulness, and progress that actually works. Let’s hope Obama can do the same.


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