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Gale Crater, Mars

3D model description

This is a model of Gale Crater, where the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity is roving around and blasting holes in the landscape.

It's 1:1925000 scale. The Curiosity Rover would be about two microns long, or about the length of one E. coli cell.

There is already a model of Gale Crater on Thingiverse (see thing:28190 by neurothing, and its derived thing:28619 by Doomcow), but I suspect the data they used to create the heightmap is not simple elevation data. Also, the way they did the mesh simplification resulted in a model without a flat bottom.

I loved their idea, but I decided to start over.

I wanted to be sure I was capturing the actual topography of the crater rather than some other optical property, and so I used the survey data from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) Topography experiment aboard the Mars Global Surveyor. The data is available here :

http://www.mapaplanet.org/explorer/help/data_set.html[hashtag mars]_mgs_mola_topo

I then squelched the grayscale image to range from 0-200, and used Vincent Sanders' png23d tool to create an STL file :

http://kyllikki.github.com/png23d/

I then used MeshLab to apply a quadratic edge collapse decimation, reducing the face count from 779300 to 10000 (preserving mesh boundaries and topography).

http://meshlab.sourceforge.net/

This should be easier to print and more accurate.

I've printed two versions so far, both with Cura :

https://github.com/daid/Cura

The print shown in the photos is actually a "low" quality print. The "normal" quality print came out even better.

-- UPDATE --

I printed a copy of this model on our lab's Ultimaker, and gave it to Dawn Sumner. She is a co-investigator for the MSL camera team led by Malin Space Science Systems, one of the Long Term Planners (LTPs) for the mission. She's also co-chair of the mapping group. Dawn was on the Landing Site Working Group, and helped choose Gale Crater as the landing site for the Curiosity Rover.

http://mygeologypage.ucdavis.edu/sumner/Dawns_Research/Home.html

If figured it was only fair that she get my first print, especially since she's also at UC Davis.

Here's her post on Twitter about the print :

https://twitter.com/sumnerd/status/245937514752405504

  • 3D model format: STL

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