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Semi-immersive space mission design and visualization: case study of the "Terrestrial Planet Finder" mission

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3 Author(s)
Museth, K. ; Dept. of Comput. Sci., California Inst. of Technol., Pasadena, CA, USA ; Barr, A. ; Lo, M.W.

The paper addresses visualization issues of the Terrestrial Planet Finder Mission (C.A. Beichman et al., 1999). The goal of this mission is to search for chemical signatures of life in distant solar systems using five satellites flying in formation to simulate a large telescope. To design and visually verify such a delicate mission, one has to analyze and interact with many different 3D spacecraft trajectories, which is often difficult in 2D. We employ a novel trajectory design approach using invariant manifold theory, which is best understood and utilized in an immersive setting. The visualization also addresses multi-scale issues related to the vast differences in distance, velocity, and time at different phases of the mission. Additionally, the parameterization and coordinate frames used for numerical simulations may not be suitable for direct visualization. Relative motion presents a more serious problem where the patterns of the trajectories can only be viewed in particular rotating frames. Some of these problems are greatly relieved by using interactive, animated stereo 3D visualization in a semi-immersive environment such as a Responsive Workbench. Others were solved using standard techniques such as a stratify approach with multiple windows to address the multiscale issues, re-parameterizations of trajectories and associated 2D manifolds and relative motion of the camera to "evoke" the desired patterns.

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Visualization, 2001. VIS '01. Proceedings

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