Exoplanet Explorer: big planet update
I’ve just discovered that data importing in Exoplanet Explorer “got stuck” in early January so there’s been no new planets added until today.
The culprit was record #734 in the PHL data that my server reads to generate the data files used by Exoplanet Explorer. Kepler-46 c featured a new discovery method, “TTV” or Transit Timing Variation. My importer is supposed to log errors and abandon the import, but due to “features” in Python the message wasn’t logged and control was passed to the function that builds the datafiles, with only 733 of 1,700 records processed.
This resulted in the “getting stuck” bit. It just looked like the number of planets being confirmed hadn’t been updated at PHL in while, which can happen.
As a quick workaround, I altered the code to translate “TTV” to “unknown” which the app understands and ran a full update a few hours ago.
Next time you run an update, don’t be surprised to download 1,000+ planet updates.
Besides this glitch, the good news is that I’ve finally gotten my old Shiva dev environment back up and running via BootCamp on my MacBook. This means I can at least do a few updates to both my Solar and Exoplanet apps while I’m working on the Unity rewrites.
Speaking of rewrites, after completing my awesome new Fruit Seasons game, I’ve decided that I’m skilled enough with Unity to start the Solar Explorer rewrite.
This new version of the app is going to be targeted at “eye candy” and will be used as a test-bed for features coming to the eventual Exoplanet Explorer rewrite.
I want to try and push modern devices as hard as possible since the original app had to be backwards compatible with devices that dated back to the HTC Nexus One device, a crappy single core 1GHz CPU with 384MB of RAM and Adreno 200 GPU… well, crappy by today’s standards. Back in the distant days of late 2010, it was the most powerful phone on Earth.
So far the rewrite is going very well. I’ve already been able to implement most of the functionality present in the original full version of app, except it looks a lot better on a modern device like the Nexus 7. While Shiva was pretty good, Unity is a lot easier to work with now that I’m familiar with it. One of it’s biggest advantages is the asset store in which I spend far too much money…
Features of the new “Solar Explorer Ultra” include:
- An actual asteroid belt with real tumbling rocks
- City lights on the night side of the Earth
- The rings of Saturn casting a shadow on the planet’s atmosphere
- A gorgeous lens flare effect for Sol
- And lots more!