Icarus Guidelines for Authors in flux

Elsevier, Inc., the publisher for Icarus rolled out a new Guide for Authors in February without consulting the Icarus Editor or the Icarus Editorial Board (upon which I currently sit). These guidelines are clearly the result of Elsevier, Inc., wanting to standardize their Author Guidelines across all of their many journals. However, the guidelines as written are confusing. It is not clear what is required versus what is optional, and some things simply don't apply to Icarus. Furthermore, these guidelines change some long-standing traditions in Icarus. The Icarus Editor and Editorial Board are currently pushing back against these changes. Until these issues get cleared up, I would suggest continuing to follow the Icarus-Board-approved Guide for Authors.

Open Government at NASA--vote for Open Access

Today NASA launched their Open Government Web page:
As part of the Open Government Directive, each agency will release an Open Government Plan. The plan is intended to outline concrete steps NASA can take to be more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. NASA is seeking input on the creation of this plan from its employees and the public. The mechanism for collecting and sorting these inputs is a Web site where users may submit, vote and comment on ideas. This Web site is available at: http://www.nasa.gov/open/ideas.html
I submitted an idea to Implement an Open Access Policy similar to the NIH which is not a new idea, but there you go. Submit your own, vote for (or against—yes, there are some ideas with negative scores) the Open Access Policy idea, vote for others, but do it all before March 19!

House Science and Technology Committee Roundtable releases report on Expanding Public Access to Scholarly Articles

I'm late on repeating this, but the AIP had an article about a 'Roundtable forum of key stakeholders' convened by the House Science and Technology Committee and their report which offers consensus recommendations on 'Expanding Public Access to Scholarly Articles.'

Open Access Workshop at the Fall DPS Meeting

At the 2009 DPS Meeting, I held a workshop on Open Access to the Planetary Sciences Literature. There weren't many people there (completely my fault for not doing more advertising for the workshop), but we did talk about the issues of Open Access in Planetary Sciences, particularly in relation to articles in Icarus, the DPS-endorsed journal.

Advice on designing scientific presentations

John Spencer, via a recent Division for Planetary Sciences newsletter (which you should all be members of, and should have gotten), provides the following simple guidelines for how to design graphics for your next talk:

  • Don't use a complex image as a slide background—it's distracting and reduces legibility.
  • Don't show bright green (or worse, yellow) lines on a white background. They may be much more visible on your computer monitor than when projected.
  • Similarly, don't show pure blue lines on a black background
  • Beware 1-pixel wide lines and fonts
  • Be sure plot axis labels are large and clear enough, particularly if they are from a published figure. Consider overwriting axis labels with new ones in a larger font if necessary.

Advice on designing scientific posters

This article about creating Scientific posters is quite good. I don't agree with everything, but it contains lots of good advice and is remarkably thorough. Although not mentioned in the article, Scribus is a very good open source desktop publishing solution that I use to make posters.

JHelioviewer, a JPEG2000 viewer

The JPEG2000 image file format is pretty darn cool, however, there are a dearth of good bits of Open Source software for dealing with them. The HiRISE team distributes the IAS Viewer to allow you to browse the HiRISE JP2 files on their JPIP server, or you can also use it to view JP2 files that you have downloaded. A colleague of mine let me know about the JHelioviewer software that is an Open source JPEG2000 viewer capable of loading local JP2s and reading from JPIP servers. It is developed by the solar physics community (they have big pictures of the Sun), and many of its user aide features are geared towards the solar physics community (and their need for time-domain movie-like data). However, it works just fine for HiRISE images, and provides an Open Source alternative to the IAS Viewer.

Detexify, a LaTeX symbol classifier

The Web page for Detexify2 really says it all, but it is essentially a handwriting classifier that turns your mouse-drawn scribble into the appropriate LaTeX symbol code. I appreciate that this is for LaTeX-nerds only, but wow, is it ever awesome.


At LPSC, I was introduced to planetaryGIS.org. This site seems to have the sames goals as Orrery.us, but for the more narrow planetary GIS community. Although the ISIS Support Center's Planetary GIS Discussions section actually does a rather robust job of this already, and certainly sees more traffic. It seems like a secondary goal of planetaryGIS.org is to facilitate the landing site selection process for ESA's ExoMars, so perhaps once that process starts ramping up, this resource will only get better.

Little known features in Google Earth's Mars mode

Lots of blogs (here and here) and news outlets have covered some of the great new Mars features in Google Earth. I will assume that you have read those blogs, watched various demonstration videos, or even watched some of the Guided Tours available in the Google Earth client itself. I will most certainly assume that you have at least taken a cursory spin around the Mars in Google Earth (we refer to it as Google Mars internally—at Ames and Google—but since that has meant the 2D Google Maps API Mars maps for so long, I don't want to confuse people).

For the discerning visitor I present a number of little perks that you might not notice. Mars in Google Earth is primarily targeted at a general public audience, but we've also slipped in some pretty cool extras (if I do say so myself) for scientists and advanced explorers alike.

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