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Power-User
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Join Date: Jan 2005
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I've got the Whole World . . .

04/05/2005 9:19 AM

I just discovered this great program from NASA Ames Research Center, called World Wind. In their own words:

World Wind lets you zoom from satellite altitude into any place on Earth. Leveraging Landsat satellite imagery and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data, World Wind lets you experience Earth terrain in visually rich 3D, just as if you were really there.

World Wind is totally cool. It starts with a zoomed out color, cloud-free view of the entire planet, which you can spin and tilt to any orientation you want. Then you can zoom smoothly down to building-level resolution at any place on the planet, and 1 meter resolution at anyplace in the U.S. using USGS 1m resolution aerial photography. At any point (at least in the U.S.) you can also toggle to a USGS topographic map of the same region, or look at false-color scientific imagery, or several alternative types of imaging. You can overlay place names and latitude-longitude coordinates on top of the image. To save you from searching the planet to find something, there's a place finder. Type in the name of a place you want to go (e.g, "Lake George") and the program will give you a list of matching places. Select the one you want, click "go" and you're there!

The one downside is that World Wind requires significant computing power and can be a pretty tricky install. As far as computing power, I've tried it on two machines. It runs pretty well on my 2.4Ghz PIV with an Nvidia GeForce4 MX video card. On the other hand, it crawls on a 1.8Ghz machine without a high performance video card. I think the biggest factor may be the video card, without which the processor has a lot more work to do.

The installer download is 179Mb, and theres a v1.3 to v1.3.1 patch that's another 6 Mb. The program requires the latest version of Microsoft DirectX (I'm using 9.0c). It is also pretty dependent on your system video card. I had to download the latest driver for my Nvidia GEForce 4 MX in order for the program to work. However, the result is well worth the effort. World Wind is also available on here on Sourceforge. It's open source, under the NASA open source agreement.

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The Architect
Engineering Fields - Software Engineering - S/W Architect Popular Science - Evolution - Fascinating! Fans of Old Computers - TRS-80 - A fine computer United States - US - Statue of Liberty - NY

Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: GlobalSpec, Troy NY
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#1

Amazing!

04/09/2005 9:07 AM

This thing rocks! I'll bet you need a fast internet connection to have any "fun" with this program, but man, zooming in from outer space all the way down to the pyramids (or your home town) is really cool!

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Mark Gaulin
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