Jules Verne Voyager: About Voyager


About Voyager Index:

For more information about our Voyager map tool, contact:   Lou Estey   (louunavco.org)
Last modified: 20 Nov 2015

Overview     Jules Verne Voyager is a precision interactive map tool for the World Wide Web, developed at UNAVCO, Boulder, Colorado, USA. It was originally developed to better visualize the inter-relationships of geophysical and geologic processes, structures, and measurements with high-precision GPS monument data and solutions on Earth.

Voyager works equally well for visualizing other planets and moons, and we are collecting a set of data for most major bodies of the Solar System. See the Solar System Portal or Jules Verne Voyager for current links.

The user browser interface uses a Java applet, which sends commands to our jules server, where images are produced using the Generic Mapping Tools (GMT) and are then sent back to the user's browser when finished. The creation time for a map is anywhere from a few seconds to a minute or so depending on how complex the final map image is.

This site has been partially funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.


Which Web browser to use?     We've had the best luck with these browser versions:

    Mozilla Firefox 1.0+
    Safari 3.0+
    Opera 6.0+
    Netscape 4.5+
    Mozilla 1.0+
    Internet Explorer 5.0+

Also, it's best if you set your monitor to maximum color capability. The image maps produced by Voyager assume a full 24-bit color palette.

What happened to Chrome? As of 2015 Sep 1, see Google/Chrome Help: Plugin-based content doesn't work on Chrome.


Which version of Java to use?     Voyager uses a Java applet, so Java must be capable on running on your browser and it must be enabled on your browser. Previous issues with Java 7 seem to be largely resolved. (If you have to use Java 6, try to use version 6 upgrade 35.)

Other possible Java related problems:

  • every browser tried on Mac OSX 10.x up through 10.3 (Panther), 10.4 (Tiger), 10.5 (Leopard), 10.6 (Snow Leopard), 10.7 (Lion), 10.8 (Mountain Lion), 10.9 (Mavericks), 10.10 (Yosemite), ... (e.g. Safari, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Internet Explorer, ...):
    The MRJ (MacOS Runtime Java), the Mac equivalent of the JRE (Java Runtime Environment) on other systems, does not play nicely. In particular it takes control of Java-specified button foreground and background colors, instead of obeying the settings in the Java byte-code. See Java Choice setBackground method — Apple Problem ID#: 2661390). (There are Other Mac OSX problems with the MRJ that are described.) The upshot is that Voyager works, but the applet buttons colors, shapes, and their layout are not displayed on any browser on OSX as they will be on other operating systems.

    Also, depending on the version of Java being used, image updates to the applet may not always occur currectly with the Java running on OSX. If you think a new image was created and should be on the screen, change focus to a different application or a different instance of your browser and then come back to the Voyager applet page.
  • Internet Explorer on XP SP2:
    If the applet does not start (i.e. you just see a grey background where the applet should be running, and you may get an initialization error), you may have to upgrade your JRE (Java Runtime Environment) to 1.5.0 or later version. Go to Sun's Download Java 2 Platform to get J2SE 5.0 (aka JRE 1.5.0) or a later version.
  • Blocking pop-ups:
    Blocking pop-ups will disable the ability of the Voyager applet to launch new browser pages from the [pop-up:] choice menu option. Enable pop-ups, at least for our jules.unavco.org site, and you will be OK.
  • any browser, any operating system, any time:
    If you get the top few lines of HTML, horizontal line, text: Sorry; your browser can't currently run Java applets., another horizontal line, and a user ID only: then your browser probably is not Java capable.
  • any browser, any operating system, any time:
    If you get the top few lines of HTML, horizontal line, text: Sorry; your appears not to be Java-enabled., another horizontal line, and a user ID only: then Java is not enabled on your browser. Enable Java, and try again.


What's unique about the Voyager map tool?     There are now many interactive map tools available on the Web (a big increase since 1996 when we started on this site); in fact, we maintain a list of those that we know about at Informations Sources: Other map sites. Here is what we still consider to be the unique aspects of the Voyager map tool:

  • You can immediately zoom or pan on any local map. (You don't have to change states on the tool, don't have to click a submit button, and so on.)   But, just remember — we can't stress this enough:
    • clicking on a point on a local map initiates a pan

      dragging a box over a region on a local map initiates a zoom

  • Your zoom region is totally in your control. This includes being able to do a zoom centered on a pole when starting from the default global map. (You are not restricted to a x2, or x5, or other fixed factor zooms.)

  • Each zoomed-in map is a Lambert azimuthal equal-area projection, which means the local map region appears very much the way it would if examining a physical globe. (I.e. you will not see highly distorted features at high latitudes or at the poles.)

  • You can easily generate a high-quality ' view from space' index map for any zoomed-in map. This also means you can view any dataset as it would appear on a globe from any direction. In fact, sometimes the index maps are the most stunning images you will produce — though they usually take longer to generate.

  • Using URL extentions, you can be in complete control how your initial Voyager map of any world starts up, including initial zoomed-in or ' view from space' maps, with any initial set of features, and even setting the overall size of the applet map space. (You don't have to go through a laborious menu process to get to where you want to be.)

  • This is the only Web site that allows you to explore the 1.1 km resolution Face of the Earth ™ texture map of ARC Science Simulations, which is a seamless image of the natural surface colors of the Earth (based on NOAA-11 image data).

  • For most maps, you are able to download either a raster image (GIF format) or a PostScript file. (The only exception is for maps using ARC's Face of the Earth ™: only the GIF raster image is made available in this case.)

  • Not unique, but rare: Each world that can be accessed the Voyager Web map tool has a thumbnail overview of the various datasets that can be displayed, e.g. the one for Mars is the Mars Features Help.

  • Not unique, but rare: It's easy to keep track of new Voyager dataset updates by periodically checking the What's New page.

  • Not unique, but rare: The Voyager Web map tool uses a GMT engine. As far as we know, it's still the only GMT-powered Web map site that gives you anything close to the above set of user-friendly features, and on a wide variety of worlds.

    Acknowledgements     In addition to our Informations Sources, special thanks to:

    • Paul Wessel and Walter Smith for developing GMT and helping us with some early problems (without GMT, this site would not have been possible)
    • Tom Ligon and Pam Patel at ARC Science Simulations for helping us acquire their stunning Face of the Earth ™ data set
    • Bob Pappalardo (CU Boulder) and Tammy Becker and colleagues (USGS, Flagstaff) for providing us with the latest composite images of the galilean moons (plus Bob's help with technical questions about terminology in the IAU/USGS planetary gazetteer)
    • Ron Blakey (Northern Arizona University) for providing his high-resolution paleoearth reconstructions


    • numerous UNAVCO staff since summer 1997 (with a protoptype of this site) to the present: Myron McCallum, Natalie Anderson, Mike Garritano, Mike Miccuci, Amy Rosewater, Susan Jeffries, Jeff Braucher, Joel Davidow, Stu Duncan, Jim Riley
    • all the people in the gmt-help list who help us solve problems, fix bugs, and find workarounds in our use of GMT on this site
    • all the other great people at NASA, JPL, USGS, NOAA, various universities, and so on who have been working for years to collect and organize all the datasets shown on this site
    • and all the people responsible for UNIX/Linux, Java, Perl, Apache and so on that is also used to make this site possible


    Comments, questions, problems about Jules Verne Voyager? Send mail to   Lou Estey   (louunavco.org)

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    Jules Verne Voyager: About Voyager last modified on Fri, 20 Nov 2015 21:15 UTC
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