Virtual and Augmented Reality Worlds for Earth Science Missions

Hashtags: #3D, #intermediate, #earthobservation


Most of the currently available Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) content is experimental demonstrations or oriented towards entertainment. Recently, VR and AR systems have become more affordable for laboratories and citizen scientists. Application Programming Interfaces (API) are code libraries that enable the development of VR and AR applications and web-apps. The NASA Open Data website provides API to existing data sets.


Viewing large data sets and Computer Aided Design (CAD) models with VR or AR enables scientists and engineers to gain a better understanding of relationships among the data points or parts of the model. This challenge requests VR and AR models of Earth Science systems and mission data. Desirable interactivity features include a capability to filter or highlight portions of a data set, navigating through the model, and resizing the model. If the development team has access to VR gloves or controllers then other desired features include interactive selection and movement of objects within the VR or AR world.


Links to articles and websites in the Sample Resources section provide some information about how NASA currently uses VR, the NASA Open Data repository, recommendations for developing VR and AR models for the web, and information VR and AR APIs and standards. When developing a VR or AR web-app or application, consider standard file formats so that it can be used for viewing more than one model. Conversion utilities to translate existing data into a standard format would be a beneficial contribution. If the plan is to develop a web-app demonstrate it by deploying a web-page with the embedded web-app. Code ought to be well commented and documented so that it can be adapted and reused for other projects.

Sample Resources

Toni Eberhart