posted on Jun, 5 2008 @ 01:48 AM
There are actually a few decent reasons why photos sent back from space are not what you'd expect.
First, there's a technology lag. The stuff on Mars represents the technology available when it was originally planned, so we're looking at 10 year
old technical capabilities. Even counting possible inline upgrades during development, the latency is FAR behind the consumer market. If you find that
hard to believe, look at your own computer. Mine was state of the art when I bought it 18 months ago. I can get a more powerful machine today for half
Second, data transmissions are not coherent, and therfore not lossless, so even if the source data is high resolution the receiving end would not be.
It's also not streaming, which means the images are not composites. Any interference in the tens of thousands of miles of contaminated space will
disrupt a singular image. Also, black and white photos carry a very small fraction of the info in their color counterparts. And color is sort of
pointless for an extra-terrestrial lander anyway; they're not sent up as photojournalists. Those pictures are add ons to give the media something to
chew on and not much more. Spectroscopy is much more valuable than a color snapshot, and that data contains numeric values describing radiant
variables like temperature and frequency - which can be extrapolated as color, but is not inherently "colorized."
Most people who challenge NASA have never managed a technical project of any scale and seldom see the complexities. Strap your cell phone to a model
rocket, set the photo timer, launch it... what are the odds that it'll take a picture of a target you have specified with the clarity you'd expect
from its hardware specs? Sure, NASA has better equipment, but even if you had all of that do you even begin to know how to compensate for thrust and
atmospheric conditions, crunch the numbers so that your shutter goes off when it should, at the right angle, with the right lighting, and accurately
predict the landing zone so you can retrieve your phone intact? That's just your back yard. Add a hundred thousand miles between you and your target
and factor in gravity wells and a target mass that is moving out of synch with your launch pad at velocities your rocket can't keep up with. The fact
that NASA is hitting their landing zones, piloting sensitive and yet intact equipment across the surface of Mars, and sending back any kind of
information at all puts them far outside the league of all but the most elite criticisms.
Complaining that the rover doesn't take photos as clear as your cell phone only demonstrates that the critic has too much time on his or her hands.