Saturday, June 28, 2014

Planetary GIS – why start a blog now?

For more than 10 years, apparently since 2002, I have used various discussion sites to list common GIS issues for the community. To get the ball rolling, many posts were just questions sent to me in emails that I would try to answer. I actually started posting the questions from a generic user called “planetary researcher” and then logged in as myself, “thare”, and answered the question. Using the wayback machine, it appears in the second discussion site incarnation, the top read threads included answers to:
  • How do I read the MOLA MEGDR 128 [pixels/degree] images?
  • How to get a level 2 ISIS image into a GIS?
  • Polar glitches in the MDIM2.1 files?
Obviously the Mars MOLA topography was still the new kid on the block and very popular (frankly still is). And while some GISs now have direct support for ISIS files, loading map projected ISIS and PDS files is still a common issue for GIS users. And the “polar” glitch thread was more about the new MDIM2.1 projection style changing to Equirectangular from Sinusoidal and the fact the Jpeg images had too many pixels for Photoshop CS ( version 8 ) . BTW, Looking at those “small” file sizes now, newer images released continue to explode in pixel count and size. We now have several 1TB mosaics in the community! The challenge is not really how to open them, but how to deliver them.

Anyway, that second discussion site incarnation lasted only year before the ISIS started a discussion forum and all the GIS topics were co-located with the ISIS topics. But in that one year more than 100 thousand threads were viewed. I assume many hits were from general GIS users who quickly bounced once they figured out we were discussing planets (or false hits from indexers).

Anyway, to get to the point, our latest discussion software platform has been down for about a week from an apparent PHP breach. While many topics even on the latest site become stale, there are still plenty of useful threads for folks to stumble upon. I will start transferring some of the those older topics (but still relevant) and post new topics into this blog. We still get plenty of email questions weekly which posts here can be based on. I don’t see using a blogging tool really any better than a discussion site for keeping threads from becoming stale, but perhaps I can remove or edit sections more easily.

For my first real post I will try to summarize how to load/convert ISIS files – again.

-Trent

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