Stack ‘em up…

Oppy isn’t doing much at the moment – she’s doing some “hard science” at Cambridge Bay, studying the exposed rock there with the suite of instruments on the end of her robot arm – and there are very few new images to play with. Here are a couple of images taken with the Microscopic Imager, showing details on those rocks and in the gravel around them. Note: these have been enhanced and tweaked mercilessly, simply and unashamedly to make them look more dramatic!

So, with some time on my hands, rover-wise, I thought I’d finally try something I’ve been meaning to try for ages – using the very popular astronomical image stacking freeware program “Registax” on Mars rover images, just to see if it works. (If you don’t know what registax is, basically it’s a program that imports video files, chops them up into individual frames and then stacks those frames up, like pancakes, to make a single, much cleaner, much sharper image. Astrophotographers use it a lot nowadays for making hi-resolution images of the Moon and planets.)

I really want this to work because I think – I hope – it might allow me to bring out subtle details on those farside walls of Endeavour as we get closer to them. If it can do that, well, it should help me see some of the smaller craters and ridges on the opposite side of Endeavour before they show up clearly on the raw images.

Anyway… I gave it a go. First I tried it on two recent Pancam images of the Far Side (Im going to start calling it that now, Ive just decided, so get used to it! :-) ). It didn’t turn out too bad, I think it shows a little more detail than a single image, but to be honest not really much more…

Unconvinced by that I thought I’d try stacking a different subject – our old friend the “Chocolate Hills”… Better result, I think? Certainly more detail visible than on the raw images, and it helps boosting the contrast a bit too… as usual with my stuff, not claiming any new scientific insights or special worth, just, hopefully, a pleasing-to-the-eye image…

But clearly a stiffer test was needed, so I decided to really get stuck in and use Registax on half a dozen different images of one of the meteorites Oppy found on Mars, waaaay back in October 2009. So I took half a dozen raw images like this…

…which are nice, but a bit blurry… and then Registacked them into this…

Now that’s quite a big improvement, I think. Obviously the fact that the original images were all taken with different coloured filters means that final image is a real mish-mash, but that’s not the point and it’s not important anyway, I’m just trying to make a new, crisper, more attractive image here,not win a Nobel Prize for science! Anyway, taking that stacked image, and enhancing and then cropping it, rewarded me with this, which I must admit I’m really very pleased with…

No doubt there are distortions and processing artefacts in there, but seriously, I don’t care, I just think that’s a very attractive, very striking image, which is what I try to make; I’m happy to leave the science and data analysis to other people!

So, yes, I think it’s safe to say that little experiment worked. I’m looking forward to trying this with other subjects now, and especially on the Far Side of Endeavour. Come back and see what I come up with… :-)

Update: I tried this with another of Oppy’s meteorites, and it worked pretty well, I think…

From 5x this…

… to this…

Nice! :-) Then I thought, why not try stacking that b/w pic with a colour pic I made of the meteorite originally? That resulted in this…

…which I am really pleased with. :-)

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One Response to Stack ‘em up…

  1. Buck says:

    That’s really nice! It’s like doing HDR from far, far away…

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