Okay, this isn't an update, but it's mostly around the texture maps.
I propose a theory that Jim Blinn may have a copy of the texture maps and other data stored in a pile of floppy disks somewhere. Here's some evidence:
- Since 1989, the JPL Computer Graphics Lab switched to PCs to render frames quickly and on demand, rather than using a stop motion camera to take a picture of the screen per frame. I think some frames can be saved in floppy disks.
- Floppy disks were used for storing source code and other small files from the 80s to the 90s.
- Jim has some backups of data stored in floppy disks.
- The copy of Jim's SPACE software (source code and texture maps) when it was obtained by David Seal for the JPL Solar System Simulator was probably in a floppy disk.
Also, here's an interesting fact about a texture map used in the graphics lab:
This is a texture map of Earth, created by Tom Brown for Caltech's the Mechanical Universe, a series that was animated by Jim Blinn and Sylvie Rueff.
Supposedly, this texture map made it into the JPL Solar System Simulator's maps of the Earth page
in 1999, under the filename ear0xxs1. However, when you click on it, it brings you into a 404 page. I found the .JPG version by reverse searching it on Google Images. There was also a .TIF file, but I cannot find it. The map is also featured in Jim's video about his history at the lab.
And now, I've found another one from another website that seems to be from the early 2000s:
The only difference is that the clouds have been slightly altered.
If you look closely at Earth in the Mechanical Universe's intro, you can see it uses that version. Here's a comparison:
Left is the map that I found from another website, center is a crop of the Earth from the intro, and the right is the map seen in the JPL simulator's Earth maps page.
This means that the map seen in the JPL simulator's Earth maps page is a preliminary version of the map. It could also be a newer version, although it's highly unlikely.
This also means 3 things:
- The texture maps (and maybe other data) were released in some obscure website.
- This texture map is a screenshot from a video. I don't recall seeing this Earth map when I was watching the Mechanical Universe in YouTube.
- This texture map was obtained by contacting one of the creators of the Mechanical Universe series.
I also reuploaded some of the Voyager & Pioneer flyby animations to Archive.org. These were originally uploaded by Ian Regan on YouTube. The reason why I reuploaded them to Archive.org was that his channel was terminated for unknown reasons in 2021, before getting restored sometime earlier in 2023. You can find them in my Archive.org profile: https://archive.org/details/@ilikesaturn