Sunday, 7 February 2021

Adventures in AR (augmented reality)

[ Update: see "Explore Mars with GIS", the app and the story HT @PhilipMielke ]

And now for something completely different... Lockdown gave me plenty of time to be armchair explorer, and my latest story map Mars revisited open with: 

As NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover prepares to land on the Red Planet, let's extend what started on #30DayMapCallenge Day 24 bonus images displaying tantalising pictures of what looked like solifluction and rock glaciers.

While I got most of NASA and USGS data on the Esri platform extended with this story map,  I also had the opportunity this weekend to explore Arizona State University's Mars Space Flight Facility online: to support the collection and processing of space imagery, they produced JMARS a complete planetary mapping system. I installed it on my old laptop where I use QGIS not Esri, and examined their pictures of the Jezero Crater where the Mars Rover will land in ten days. I focused on the crater rim, which is cut by a river channel and delta I tweeted about (wait for the tweet graphic):

The object of my post is their cool AR picture export facility, to allow imagery to be shown on your mobile phone (Android or iOS). Go to the third panel of my story map, Second Jezero delta?, where I explored a possible second delta, less distinct and perhaps older than the main one discussed. I show here my rendition of the Jezero Crater original delta atop and possible second older one at centre, next to ASU's original demo:

click to enlarge

The QR code and instructions to download ASU's AR viewer for Android or Apple and view it in 3D left me flumoxed at first. JMARS AR leader Robert  LiKamWa kindly sent me these instructions right away, promising to improve their interface &/or documentation. So try it yourself following this: 

Outside of the QR download screen, you'll want to place the terrain in your environment.  
0) Click the "Terrains" button to get the QR scanner and scan the code just created. It will say "{your image name} is loaded"
1) Click the "Terrains" button to make the QR scanner go away (It'll turn gray)
2) Click the "Move" button to enter the mode where you can place terrains.
3) Point your phone the ground and move it around slowly. You should see a whitish/grayish area start to form. That's where you can place the terrain. 
4) Tap to place your terrain anywhere.
5) If you need to move the terrain, hit the "Move" button again.

The "Help" button should give you additional information if you need it.
I'm a geologist, and it's not every day I see landscape formed billions of years ago on Mars, when water was purported to be present and created river-related structures not unlike what I discuss in today's Fenlands - the planet has been frozen solid since, and where windstorms haven't erased features, everything remained intact over aeons 

I'm also a mapmaker, and I can only be amazed to get 5 and 50 m. resolution data from a planet that was 38M mi. / 61M km. from earth at its closest approach last October!

 I hope that this AR technique will help you enjoy seeing these distant vistas on your phone.