Click to Listen to the current SciFiFanZine Theme song

S c i F i F a n Z i n e : Cool Free Stuff for the SciFi Fan : Deluxe Edition

Add SciFiFanZine to My Yahoo!

SciFiFanZine's Virtual iPod
(Background Surfing Music)
- select below -

ReBoot SciFiFanZine's Virtual iPod

The Daily Comics

Reload The Daily Comics Selector

SciFiFanZine's SFFH FTV-Superculture ®NetboX©
(The Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror on Film and TV - Daily News & Utilities Box)

Reload FTV Daily News & Utilities ®NetboX© Channel Selector

Sunday, May 28, 2006

A Bloody Good Question of Mars Skull Scale

Mood: Cephalopod'ish.
Todays Fact:The seven Endless siblings in Gaiman's stories are:
Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium.
Track Injection: "Angel’s Punishment" – Lacuna Coil <-- click to Download MP3

This Question and Observation is raised by a friend of mine nomened Denstat


She is very smart, she is very witty, she can turn a phrase (or sword - Ed) faster than Pazuzu can turn Linda Blair's head 360 degrees, and unfortunately dear readers presently injected with an overdose of spring pheromones (you-know-who-you-are - Ed) ..she is taken.

Her Raised Q,

are these massive rock structures, or is this macro photography of tiny strucures?

id est. What is the SCALE of this photo?

Took a bit of digging to get that answer.

First I 'ad to find out what took the photo, luckily NASA puts quite a bit of information about their photos into the URL they store them at.

see http://marsrover.nasa.gov/gallery/edr_filename_key.html

for the key to decyphering the skull-image url:


according to the key the 2P (following the 513) tells us its was taken with Spirit's Pancam.

So, off to find out what the Spirit's Pancam specs were, I (far-too-merrily-and-unsuspectingly -Ed) went.

Unfortunately the NASA website sucked larks vomit on this particular subject of the Pancam tech specs.

I'm sure they 'ave a wonderfully detailed page on it, until you ask them where it is, then I suspect they do a lot of coughing and mumbling and excusing themselves to go to the washroom.

Technically they did provide an overview that succinctly described the pancam as "human perspective" but I couldn't find anything much more comprehensive than that at NASA.

Next on my journey I decided to go looking for the Rover (Spirit's) specs. Which revealed this bit of info:

Spirit is 4.9 feet high (with pancam at top on mast) x 7.5 feet wide by 5.2 feet long and weighs 384 pounds with her pancam lenses a foot apart.

(so basically when they say "human perspective" it makes one wonder precisely which 5 foot 384 pound human with eyes 12 inches apart they were referring to - Ed)

und finally after some alarmingly technical geological sidetracking (that I only narrowly escaped some 14 hours later by asking talking door #2 whether talking door #1 was telling the truth)

..upon said narrow escape, I finally discovered a site with a detailed description of the Spirit's Pancam technical specifications (YAY!) containing a Spirit 360 degree Pancam user-controllable perspective viewer. (hyperYAY!)

Pancam Specs and Mars user-controlled Pancam simulator located 'ere: http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/pancam_techwed_040114.html

so, essentially, the short answer would appear to be that the Pancam is designed to take pictures from the perspective of a 5 foot human with 20-20 vision.

(which let us recall is pretty well much what NASA said before you went off on this epic journey of self immolation - Ed)


Point being, WITH actual Specs in hand, I found no reference to controllable zoom capabilities on the Pancam (hardware) side. Ergo, unedited raw images are at human-height+perspective. (give or take the linearization)


When we toy with the Pancam simulator (to get an idea of perspective in relation to the Rover, the 5 foot camera height and the size of nearby rocks)


ve combine this with analyzing the full-screen image of the rockskull, the (5 foot high human -Ed) perspective appears to indicate that

Conclusion 1: the rockskull is approximately 4-6 feet away, the object to the right about the size of a large tree trunk, ergo the rock-skull pretty close to humanoid sized.

Conclusion 2: as Denstat's observation displays, it's a bloody nuisance that NASA doesn't encode a SCALE into their photo stats.

(I've emailed NASA to inquire what the Panoramic camera's precise PIXEL SCALE RATIO is, with that in hand we ought be able to calculate the precise dimensions of the Mars rockskull to within a few millimeters - Ed)

While the rockskull appears human sized in the pancam photo, If the pic had been taken with the Spirit Rover's micro(scope)cam instead the answer would be entirely different. and that skull would be absurdly small and far less ominous.

(though no less absurd than a humanoid skull on mars - Ed)

Bugger off non-believer.

(btw, you forgot conclusion number 3 - Ed)

which is..

(never argue with a Sicilian when Death is on the line! - Ed)

Alright then.

(um, why are you so calm? - Ed)

2 reasons Ed.

1. You're not Sicilian.

2. You can be bought off with signed Photos of Ronald Reagan and a bag of jelly beans.

(you said 2 reasons, so what's the 3rd? - Ed)

3. ..I know something you don't know.

(doubtful, but I'll play., hunh-hunh-hem: "..which is?" - Ed)

I am not left handed.


(uh, Yes you are actually - Ed)

While true, for purposes of being strange, and honoring The Princess Bride, I am not at this moment, left handed.

Finally, props to SciFiFanZine poster Tyler-Durden's-Smoking-Revenge for posting one of my fave reactions to the rockskull image 'ere on SciFiFanZine:

"F*ck me, they finally found where I burried Hoffa"


Next up (for his next trick - Ed) *cough* please stop helping me Ed

We shall attempt to discover the answer to Anthony Knox question of whether or not NASA 'as to acquire U.S Government approval before posting Martian pictures online.

Note that, this is a bloody interesting Q because it doesn't matter whether the rockskull is an alien skull/scultpure artifact or a rock or not, what matters is that it looks like an alien skull, ergo if NASA does require approval from the U.S Government before releasing such (national-security related -Ed) photos, a paper-trail will exist for this particular photo, that can be accessed by The U.S Freedom of Information act.


The Avante Guardian.