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Visualizing space science data in 3D

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1 Author(s)
Mathews, G.J. ; Nat. Space Sci. Data Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA

Imagine being able to manipulate static, 2D data into 3D objects that you can almost touch. Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) can help make it happen, even in a traditionally 2D field like space science. Although visualizing space science data has used high-end computing applications to create virtual environments such as the Cosmic Explorer Project, most space science data is still 2D. Scientists with low- to high-end computers need to develop and navigate 3D virtual environments to further their research efforts. VRML is an ASCII description of a 3D world that can be shared across platforms (Unix, Macintosh, and Windows) over the World Wide Web. VRML describes 3D worlds just as Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) describes 2D text pages on the Web-both can have hyperlinks to other resources on the Web. A VRML browser-which may be a Web browser plug-in or a separate stand-alone application-allows users to manipulate objects, fly over landscapes, and interact in a virtual environment. Although VRML is still evolving, software developers are rapidly building VRML browsers for a variety of computing platforms

Published in:

Computer Graphics and Applications, IEEE  (Volume:16 ,  Issue: 6 )