Results of planetary mapping are often shared openly for use in scientific research and mission planning. In its raw format, however, the data is not accessible to non-experts due to the difficulty in grasping the context and the intricate acquisition process. We present work on tailoring and integration of multiple data processing and visualization methods to interactively contextualize geospatial surface data of celestial bodies for use in science communication. As our approach handles dynamic data sources, streamed from online repositories, we are significantly shortening the time between discovery and dissemination of data and results. We describe the image acquisition pipeline, the pre-processing steps to derive a 2.5D terrain, and a chunked level-of-detail, out-of-core rendering approach to enable interactive exploration of global maps and high-resolution digital terrain models. The results are demonstrated for three different celestial bodies. The first case addresses high-resolution map data on the surface of Mars. A second case is showing dynamic processes, such as high-resolution, concurrent weather conditions on Earth that require temporal datasets. As a final example we use data from the New Horizons spacecraft which acquired images during a single flyby of Pluto. We visualize the acquisition process as well as the resulting surface data. Our work has been implemented in the OpenSpace software, which enables interactive presentations in a range of environments such as immersive dome theaters, interactive touch tables, and virtual reality headsets.
Authors: Kalle Bladin1, Emil Axelsson1, Erik Broberg1, Carter Emmart2, Patric Ljung1, Alexander Bock3, Anders Ynnerman1
Awarded "Best Paper" in the category "Scientific Visualization" at IEEE Vis 2017Full text