Friday, May 20, 2005

Coming Soon: ViewSpace

We're continuing on in that neverending quest to keep CyberSpace as current as possible. Part of that is effort involves using RSS feeds to update the displays, another part is using content provided by partners such as EventScope. We are closing in on another big piece of the pie, by showing ViewSpace from the Space Telescope Science Center. ViewSpace is a really nice streaming multimedia program that is continually updated. Anyway I just got it running on my desktop - it looks greak! Unfortunately it looks like were are going to have to purchase another PC to run in in the classroom, however. I'll post another message once we get everything sorted out and have it running. I'm hoping that it will make a really nice addition to the classroom.

Resource Center

For a while I'd been thinking that it would be really great if there were a place in the classroom to hand out all the lithographs, brochures, posters, etc. that we get at the planetarium. For the unveiling of the 15th anniversary Hubble images I was sent 100 copies of the M51 and Eagle Nebula lithos, but they arrived a couple of days after the event, so there wasn't an opportunity to give them out. Anyway, last week Randy stumbled upon a great magazine rack, and this afternoon we got it mounted to the wall. Just going through my desk, bookshelf and rooting around the Astronomy department I was able to come up with enough stuff to fill all 20 slots on the rack. It will be interesting to see how quickly the stuff disappears.

Friday, May 13, 2005


The EventScope group at CMU has been providing content for our Vision Stations for the last 18 months or so. Their Education manager Ron McCloskey creates a set of 5 planetary geology lessions each week which step through different sections of the 3D terrain imaged by the Mars Odyessy orbiter. Right now these lessons are running on two Vision Stations (one for even weeks, one for odd week)

The most recent weeks lessons have to do with images taken in late April of the Kasei Valles region of Mars. Some of the cool things in these lessons are "multidepth chanels" where the different levels of the channels indicate that there were different episodes of flooding, there are also regions where material is falling from the steep chanel walls and spreading out into into alluvial fans, and one region where half of a large crater wall has collapsed into one of the outflow channels.

Eventhough these lessons are best viewed in the immersive Vision Stations at the Planetarium you can still download EventScope on your computer and follow along with the lesons at home.

NASA web feature on CyberSpace

NASA is doing a feature story on their website about our use of their RSS feeds! The story is at
It's really hard to try and keep the gallery current with more than 20 different displays, so using RSS seemed like a great solution. Turns out that it was pretty easy to parse the xml in Macromedia Director (at least once I stopped trying to use their xml parser and just wrote my own). The first thing I tried was just making a slideshow of the NASA image of the day feed. It worked pretty well, but the images it linked weren't high enough resolution to use in the gallery. I sent an email to Colin Engar at NASA about this and he was nice enough to set up a special feed with links to hi-res images. Three months later and it's finally up in the gallery. Right now we have two displays taking information from RSS feeds, and I hope we can add a couple of more soon. There is the image of the Day one which loops through the last five NASA images of the day, and our new intro screen which runs the "breaking news" fees as a ticker across the bottom.


I've decided to keep a blog about the CyberSpace gallery at the Adler Planetarium. CyberSpace is an all electronic gallery consisting of a series of 16 plasma displays that we create content for, four hemi-spherical displays called Vision Stations from the ellumens corp, a bunch of overhead displays one attached to an IR camera, a computer classroom with 16 computers which can be folded down into desks and a distance learning studio. In this blog I'll talk about the latest upgrades to the gallery and our plans to improve things in the future.