Mars MOLA Viewer displays a fly-over rendering of the Martian surface, as measured by the Mars Global Surveyor, in real-time 3D animation. Mars MOLA Viewer downloads the Mars Orbiting Laser Altimeter topographic data files and uses them to drive the rendering.
The user controls the position and the angle of the camera, and can move seamlessly over the entire Martian surface from -88 to 88 degrees latitude. It is a Java Web Start program with 1-click installation from your browser (depending on platform/browser).
· Broadband internet access isn't required but it is strongly encouraged. The program downloads the topographic data files from the official MOLA site on the internet; there are 16 of these files, about 128 MB each, totaling 2 GB. If you don't have broadband each of these files could take 10 hours or more to download. You don't need all the files to view terrain; if you are going to download only some of the files I recommend the area around the Valles Marineris for interesting terrain. The program itself is about 2 MB; if you also need to install Java (see below) there is an additional 10 MB download.
· Mars MOLA Viewer has been tested and should run with Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Linux x86/Linux x86_64 PC's (if you are interested in helping with a port to other platforms that support Java and OpenGL, contact me.) It may well run with Windows ME or Windows 98 if you have correct OpenGL drivers. In order to get acceptable performance, you will need at least 256 MB of memory as well as a >1 GHz CPU and/or a video chip that provides transform and lighting acceleration, such as an ATI Radeon or NVidia GeForce. You'll also need working OpenGL drivers for your video chip. Most PCs sold since 2002 will do fine.
· The Java 1.4+ runtime with Java Web Start is also required. If you run Mars MOLA Viewer from the launch link below these should automatically download if you don't have them.
What's New in This Release:
· Mars MOLA Viewer now incorporates a Mars clock so the real time 3D terrain renders show the sun and lighting appropriately for your location, season, and time: you can watch the sun rise or set on Mars, and see the sun shift with the changing seasons.
· See the landscape as it would appear now, or at the date and time of your choice.
· A new bookmark feature helps you remember points of interest and return for further exploration.
· There's new support for Linux running native on AMD-64, as well as Linux and Windows on i386.