Laptop-based Whole-Earth Terrain Visualization using Geospecific Imagery

N. Matson (USA)


RealTime Visualization, WholeEarth Visualization, Geospecific Imagery, WGS84.


This paper outlines the capabilities of a terrain visualization program which can view very large databases in real time. Geospecific imagery and gridded height data are used to render a "digital earth" on a WGS 84 spheroid [1]. Culling and rendering of the dataset can be run on a PC laptop with a current 3D graphics chipset. Database size is not limited to how much can be loaded into memory, rather it is limited by the hard drive storage, since data is read from disk(s) in real time. Imagery resolution can range from space-level resolutions measured in kilometers to high-resolution ground-level imagery with sub-meter accuracy. Imagery data is automatically paged in at proper levels of detail as the viewer moves from a higher altitude to a lower altitude. Data can also be shared among multiple instances running on a network. Applications such as track viewing, inclusion of building models in the scene, as well as video playback on the terrain from aerial cameras are demonstrated.

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