JMARS – Java based Geographic Exploration System for Mars data sets

Hmm, yea I used Geographic Exploration System again in one of my posts. Once you start using the term you can’t stop (kinda like “consume web services”).

Well beyond all that I saw that Arizona State University has a Java program called JMARS (Java Mission-planning and Analysis for Remote Sensing) which “provides easy access to many different Mars data sets, including MOC, MOLA and THEMIS, and allows the user to combine these into a single image”. JMARS supports Java Web Start so you can launch right from your web browser. In typical Java frustration though it requires J2SE 1.4.2 and of course I had 1.5.x only. Once you get that figured out is a really impressive way to view raster information from Mars.

One really interesting feature is that new datasets are constantly being added to JMARS because the Mars Odyssey spacecraft is still taking THEMIS pictures of the surface. You can also load shapefiles, GML or even ASCII (assuming you have such files for Mars).

JMARS map window - Go Sun Devils!

Shape2Earth Beta 2

Google EarthI’ll be honest, I haven’t even taken a quick look at this shapefile to KML converter Shape2Earth by Tim Beermann, but some might want to check it out. Unlike many of the GIS to KML products I’m familiar with, this one doesn’t seem to need ArcGIS to get its data into Google Earth making it a pretty good choice for those not running ESRI’s ArcGIS. One good new feature in this beta I can see is that Shape2Earth will project on the fly so you don’t need to worry about making sure all your data is in WGS84.

I’ve been playing around with the NASA World Wind shapefile “import” tool and its not exactly as easy to use as I would have hoped. I can’t see how in its current form that my clients would be able to use it, but hopefully as the project continues the tool will become more robust and easier to use.

ArcGIS Explorer beta 1 snapshot 1 available to beta testers

E2 IconIn contrast to my post yesterday about the ArcGIS Explorer public beta (this snapshot release is a closed beta), a new “snapshot 1” beta is available for download from the ESRI beta site to those in the 9.2 beta program. I don’t see any release notes, but it appears to be similar to the version demoed at the Developer Summit last month. I guess keep an eye out on the ESRI beta forums for what is new and what to test as this is a closed beta so you can’t get any info from this blog.

Update – Actually the “What’s New” has been posted to the ESRI beta forums in the ArcGIS Explorer section. Take a look.

O’Reilly on Mapdex

I noticed in my aggregator this morning there was a post about Mapdex and how it has done a wonderful job of indexing web map servers on O’Reilly Radar. Jeremy has noted similar problems with the web map servers on his blog before.

Of course the O’Reilly self promotion is really in full force getting ready for Where 2.0.

…it’s good to see the geospatial industry taking its first steps towards Where 2.0, with the Internet connecting everything.

Apparently us professional GIS types are just beginning to understand how the Internet connects everything and we can thank the good folks at O’Reilly for showing us how to do it. PLEASE!

Rolling my eyes...

Zillow.com now uses Birds Eye from Virtual Earth

One of my favorite sites using mapping is Zillow. Not everyone has been on board with the concept, but I really do think this site could be huge in a few years. Now we find out that at least in certain areas where the birds eye view is available, you can view a 45 degree angle view of the house you are interested. You can see the yard, the roof, the driveway, the neighbors, the backyard and even local parks, schools and shopping.

The biggest issue I see with this and one that I was critical about Zillow in the first place is that there is no metadata as to when the image was taken. The image could be old and not showing the true condition of the home. This is why it is still important to at least investigate houses on the ground to make sure that you are satisfied. Everyone from Ask to Zillow (Wow we can go from A to Z now with online mapping) needs to realize how important metadata is to applications and mashups.

The house that I grew up in, how I do miss it...

What’s new in NASA World Wind 1.3.4 Beta

NASA - From Space Shuttle to World WindI finally found a wiki page with some info on the 1.3.4 beta. I’m not sure why this isn’t linked on the front page of the World Wind Central community portal. I want to find some time to play around with using World Wind with shapefiles and see how well it works as a Geographic Exploration System (I hate that term, but it seems to be gaining traction). Many of our clients can’t use Google Earth because of its license and I’m sure others will begin to run into that problem. World Wind might just be the solution and we’ll see how well it handles Shapefiles.

Oh and NASA World Wind 1.3.4 Beta 3 is out. Grab it while it is hot.