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Welcome to my journal. This journal was set up to log thoughts and developments regarding my Second Life NASA Ames CoLab Project, the project proposal of which can be found at the beginning (first entry) of this journal. This journal was created to separate my CoLab project from my work experience project (a similar eco-system project), which can be found here: The idea for this terraforming project was an initial consideration for my work experience based project, when I was brainstorming ideas based on 'creating an eco-system in a virtual environment'.

The current location for the prototype of my CoLab project can be found in Second Life at: Space CoLab Mars Island, Space CoLab (28, 211, 24).

If you would like to reference this journal in your own blogs etc, please leave notification in a comments section of this journal, or email me, and if possible contain a link. Thank you :-)

The journal will include images, mainly snapshots of Second Life, and chat transcripts. I will edit and format the transcripts in a way that makes them easier to read (mainly taking out the junk that can occur in between e.g. "user offline", putting sequential text from one person in one text block, and colour coding names). 

If anyone has any objections to the images or chat, or feels like the edited chat transcripts misconstrue what was being said, please feel free to either comment on the relevant journal page, IM me in SL (Camden Mitchell), or email me at I will edit or remove the offending material.

The journal entries are in chronological order, oldest last to newest entries. I would do some html and create an index but I don't have time at the moment. Therefore, I will list all entries in the hope it makes it easier to navigate the journal. I have colour coded the entries for easier reference; blue = meetings & chats, green = project developments, red = design ideas. I apologise to anyone who is colour blind.


23rd Nov. 2006. Info Center Design & Troy's Models of CoLab Earth

22nd Nov. 2006. SL Education Classes. Discussion of Terrain Development & Social Research with Troy

22nd Nov. 2006. Further Model Design Ideas

21st Nov. 2006. SL Reference & Info Center Basement Design

21st Nov. 2006. Reflection on yesterdays meeting & clarification of long & short term project goals.

20th Nov. 2006. Project Meeting

20th Nov. 2006. Further Designs for the Info Center

17th Nov. 2006. Parcel of Land

16th Nov. 2006. First CoLab Meeting

15th Nov. 2006. Planning & Visualising the Project Design

14th Nov. 2006. Project Acceptance

14th Nov. 2006. NASA Ames CoLab Project Proposal

During January I worked on finishing the structure of the Euro-MARS habitat by including the upper deck (figure 1). This building work was carried out part time whilst reading through chapters in An Introduction to Astrobiology (Conway, A., Gilmour, I., Jones, B., Rothery, D., Sephton, M., Zarnecki, J. 2004. The Open University: Cambridge University Press.) to gather information on the differences between Earth and Mars, find out why life on Earth is abundant, and what kinds of life may survive on Mars during early terraformation processes.

(figure 1. Upper deck of the Euro-MARS which is for sleeping quarters and storage of future technology. Each room is individually textured to illustrate how Second Life residents living in the habitat can change the decor of their room, making the experience more personal, and signifying the importance of human factors in the real life mission).

The Euro-MARS habitat was not the main point of my project, which was to create a virtual environment. However, the building of the Euro-MARS took precedence when the director of the Euro-MARS project (The Mars Society U.K.) spotted my habitat in Second Life and expressed an interest in working together to complete the build to revised designs. 

The requirements of using design material with officially obtained permission from The Mars Society U.K. were to make sure that all material was cited and credited to The Mars Society U.K., include a passive or active link to The Mars Society U.K. website (, and display The Euro-MARS/Mars Society UK project logo (figure 4).

The work on the Euro-MARS habitat was further made a priority by a request to have a copy of it to be on display in the teen-grid version of Second Life. 

During February I continued to work on the habitat, which mainly involved making a few structural changes to fit in with new design plans, and applying texture and colour to the habitat to make it visually aesthetic (figures 2a - 3d). At it's current stage, some parts are still awaiting textures, such as the communications room (figures 2d and 2e). The choice of tiles in the bathroom area (figure 2f) is partly creative licence for the habitat simulation in Second Life, but also a consideration for human factors in the real life habitat.

(figure 2a. Finishing the EVA-prep room on the lower deck) (figure 2b. Coming up to the middle deck. Lounge area & kitchen)

(figure 2c. View of the lounge area from the stairs)                 (figure 2d. Communications room, located off the lounge area. 
                                                                                                             Includes sleeping bunks, and is the storm shelter area)

(figure 2e. Opposite view of the comms. room. The door       (figure 2f. The bathroom area. Shower/Sauna cubicle, space left
near where the server textures are to be placed leads to       for the instalment of wash basin, behind this view is a separate
the bathroom).                                                                                 area for the toilet.) 
(figure 2g. Exiting the bathroom through the opposite door,  (figure 2h. the storage area, and leading on to the fitness area).
through to the storage area. The toilet area of the                       
bathroom is behind the screen shown on the right).

(figure 2i. The fitness area backing on to the storage area.
Behind is the doorway which leads back in to the lounge area)

(figure 3a. Coming up to the upper deck. The area here is   (figure 3b. The first two rooms. High bunks with storage and
empty and reserved for 'future technology'. There is                desk space underneath was a slight modification on the plans.
another large storage area to the right, and 6 rooms              However, this will be changed in future when the domed roof is
 feeding off the central area).                                                         included in the design).

(figure 3c. Third and fourth rooms. This image shows the    (figure 3d. Fifth and sixth rooms. Includes the fold down desks
incorporation of concertina style doors, scripted by                 and chairs mentioned in the design plans).
Eloise Pasteur, for the habitat).

(figure 4. The view of the Euro-MARS habitat. The blue information sign gives out a notecard with design updates. The notice boards wither side rotate through the floor plan images of the Euro-MARS, a website link is provided upon touching the boards. The Euro-MARS logo is displayed in a rotating banner above the habitat).

Over the Christmas break I decided to start work on building the Euro-MARS habitat. I sourced floor plans through and wikipedia after the The Mars Society U.K. informed me that there were no clearer images of floor plans other than those provided on the official website.

I thought using my break to build the Euro-MARS would be a good way to practice my building skills in SL, practice using photoshop for texturing (useful in creating the Mars skybox), and to also work on basic functional scripts such as doors etc, to gain practice in scripting.

Below are pictures taken in December of the lower deck of the Euro-MARS habitat.

(figure 1a. Lower deck layout)                                                      (figure 1b)

(figure 1c. Texture development)                                                (figure 1d. Lab 1 - Medical)

(figure 1e. Overview, Labs 1-3, EVA prep room, airlocks)      (figure 1f. EVA prep room)

(figure 1g)                                                                                        (figure 1h. Editing the floor so the textures don't flash due to overlap)

(figure 1i. Lower deck at an almost finished textured state)

The lower deck took the longest to complete. The second and third decks we quicker to do as I became more used to building, especially how to build while trying to keep the amount of abjects I was building with to a minimum (refered to as prim count).

(figure 2a. Planning the middle deck)                                      (figure 2b. Lounge area with sofa, chairs, kitchen bar)

(figure 2c. Kitchen area)

An empty deck was added for the Upper deck and the Euro-MARS structure was moved to CoLab Projects from where it currently was at SL Campus land.

For the observation station I wanted to section each floor into different topics. Therefore on arrival into the observation station a poster was created within PowerPoint to explain the basis behind the observation station design, and also what content could be found on each floor (figures 1a - 1b).

(figure 1a. Arrival into the Observation Station)                         (Figure 1b. Welcome sign)

Continuing on to the middle floor by way of an elevator platform (figure 1c) the middle deck is reached which is where the viewing pods are located. The middle deck is to be the gallery for space designs. The images used are art work produced by Don Davis during the 1970's for NASA. 

Each image was annotated in PowerPoint to reference the work, provide a description for it, and then applied to a metal background so that the art appears to be on the interior wall of the observation station (figures 2a - 2j).

(figure 1c. Elevator shaft between levels)                                  (figure 1d. Middle deck - Viewing booths and space art gallery)

(figure 2a. Exterior view of a toroidal colony)

(figure 2b. Interior view of a toroidal colony)

(figure 2c. Exterior view of the rim of a toroidal colony)

(figure 2d. Exterior view of a Bernal Sphere colony)

(figure 2e. Internal view of a Bernal Sphere colony)

(figure 2f. Cut away view of a Bernal Sphere agricultural module)

(figure 2g. Exterior view of a Cylindrical colony)

(figure 2h. Exterior view of several Cylindrical colonies)

(figure 2i. Interior view of a Cylindrical colony)

(figure 2j. Artists impression of the finished ISS)

As well as space colony art on the middle deck, on the lower deck I wanted to incorporate some art that would illustrate the ideas behind how Mars could be colonised, ranging from habitat ideas to agriculture (figures 3a - 3i).

(figure 3a. Example 1 of a Mars colonisation habitat)

(figure 3b. Mars habitat and underground agricultural units)

(figure 3c. The Mars Greenhouse Project Experiment)

(figure 3d. Computer generated image of the Mars Greenhouse Project)

(figure 3e. Computer generated image of the Mars Greenhouse Project)

(figure 3f. Computer generated image of the Mars Greenhouse Project)

(figure 3g. Computer generated image of the Mars Greenhouse Project idea expanded to a greenhouse farm)

(figure 3h. Another Mars greenhouse farm image)

(figure 3i. Mars Habitats. The Mars Society, and The Mars Society U.K. habitats are similar in design to this image)

After the restored prim count I needed to edit my original observation space station so that it was made of less objects (prims) to fit within the object (prim) allowance for my given parcel of land. I decided to remove a floor and decrease the diameter of the observation station, therefore enabling it to be built from a smaller number of side pieces.

Having a smaller diameter also meant that I had more room to put in an additional 'space' viewing booth. Figures 1a-1d document the process of creating a space within one wall panel to make an entrance to the adjoining viewing booth. The viewing booth itself would need separate floor, window and ceiling sections so that the relevant textures could be applied (e.g. the perception of being surrounded by space, and being inside a structure orbiting Mars).

(figure 1a. Editing a wall piece to make way for the viewing   (figure 1b. diving the box up to separate wall, window, and ceiling
booth)                                                                                                  sections)

(figure 1c. Adding a floor texture, and seating area)                (figure 1d. Evaluating the camera view form the seated position)

With the other viewing booth, I experimented with a bowed window shape to give more room within the structure (figures 2a and 2b). Although this design did provide more room the design was fidllier and required more prims to construct, which led to a tubular design as shown in figure 2c and 2d. A problem with both of the designs in figures 1c - 2b is that having the image applied to the inside structure would not have allowed for any perspective of the view; when the avatar moved the image of space would not appear realistic.

In figures 2c and 2d the structure can be seen to be constructed in a more simple fashion. There is a tubular cylinder section surrounding a rectangular box. The inner walls of the box are not visible due to a 'transparent' texture applied. This will act as the glass window, with the view of space texture being applied to the inside of the cylinder (figure 2f). The window texture in front of the space texture should aid the illusion of distance and perspective.

(figure 2a. Making the booth with a bowed window                 (figure 2b. More room provided to the booth but requires more
 structure)                                                                                          prims)

(figure 2c. Progression of the bowed window idea using a tubular section surrounding a box. This figure also shows the size of the viewing booth in relation to the new design of the observation station)

(figure 2d. Side view of the structure. The box is not visible     (figure 2e. Outside view. The cylinder section is sealed off with a
from the inside as a 'transparent' texture was applied)           half circle object)

(figure 2f. The inner walls of the box serve as the windows, whilst the inside of the cylinder and circle pieces have a 'space' texture applied. N.B. all textures were temporary and used as a visual aid).

After applying the example textures as shown in figure 2f, it became apparent that the illusion was still not quite right. Whilst the middle part of the view had some degree of distance, the cylinder structure met the bottom of the inner box, and therefore the image was not giving the required effect of a skybox.

To correct this I decided to totally encompass the inner box within another object, so that the space texture would give a better illusion when any avatar moved. This design process is illustrated in figures 3a - 3b.

(figure 3a. Encompassing the inner structure)

(figure 3b. Changing the shape of the outer sphere to better fit with the observation station exterior)

As can be seen in figure 3b, the interior surface of the hollowed sphere draws the map of the applied texture to a point at the poles. This would make it difficult to apply an accurate image of Mars as seen from space. The sphere was changed to a hollowed cube, as seen in figure 3c, which has a much more even texture map.

(figure 3c. Changing the outer object to a cube shape. As well as there being a more precise texture map on the inside of a hollowed cube, more distance between the inner booth and outer space image is gained, therefore increasing the viability of the illusion.

The next problem encountered was when the viewing booths were put in position (figure 4a). From inside one booth it should be possible to see into the other as they are positioned on the same side of the observation station. However, due to the space image being applied to the inner surface of the box structure, it was not possible to see past this. 

The only way to get around this problem was to apply a large skybox that encompassed both viewing pods, and extend it to the areas of the observation station that could be viewed from the pods (figure 4b). Although this idea was previously considered, it was discounted on the basis that it would require a lot of objects to build the box, and all building was being done conservatively with regards to how many objects (prims) were used.

(figure 4a. Putting the viewing pods in position)

(figure 4b. Construction of a large Skybox surrounding the observation station, on which to place the images of Mars as seen from space)

Figures 4c - 4f illustrate how applying a larger skybox aids the illusion of being on an observation station. Each of the view pods can be seen from one another, and the distance between the space images and the viewing booth help to create a distance perspective. Figures 4b and 4c also show the difference in the size and shape of the observation station since its last redesign. 

(figure 4c. Applying a space texture to the large skybox)

(figure 4d. Both viewing pods are within view of each other. This figure shows the process of choosing the more viable size of which to have Mars, thereby reflecting the distance between Mars and the orbiting observation station)

(figure 4e. View from within the viewing booth)                        (figure 4f. View from inside the viewing booth with also a view 
                                                                                                           into the observation station to gauge how realistic the perception

- update

Prim count restored, therefore need to re- evaluate design of obs. station otherwise prim limit will be hit when Mars dome is installed, leaving too low a prim count left for Info Center displays.

Took out one floor of Observation station. Then decided just to rebuild and have less than the 18 sides it currently has.

- what would I consider changing in new rebuild of observation station?

- update.

Build version 2 of obs station over last two days.

(figure 1. Overview)

(figure 2. tp into docking area & pick up camera interface)

(figure 3. Chair lift down into the top floor of obs station)

(figure 4a. Viewing pod on next floor down)

(figure 4b. Third floor down)

(figure 5. Bottom floor)

- update

Space CoLab sim down all day. No development.

Worked on particle scripts.

Had evening off.

- update

Working slide sensor door.

(add picture)

SL off line from midday for update. Didn't come back online until around 2000 hours.

Spent time researching for Info Center material.

- update on ideas of what to display and where.

update - donation of tools by Cadroe Murphy of SL, prim array, shape gen. belzier

(figure 1. Using a belzier tool to create an arc)

(figure 2. Tutorial from Cadroe Murphy on using the prim array tool)

(figure 3. potential of tools)

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