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World Wind - NASA App, Make 3-D Maps #1262
Back To Discussion List Written: 2005.03.18 by: Drew Brayshaw

http://worldwind.arc.nasa.gov/index.html

This is a big free download, but the program lets you access LANDSAT, radar topographic, and satellite info to construct false 3-D views of any place on earth. The data quality is better in some areas than others. In some places you can actually zoom in to the level of seeing individual cars in parking lots.

I have only played with it a little bit due to not having the time, but it seems to be a very powerful and useful tool. And it's free :) It seems like it may offer a more visually effective way of getting a sense of what some mountains look like, than merely looking at contours on a map. It may also be useful for looking for ways through crevasse fields when planning ski traverses.


Comments

#448 - 2005.03.29 Bernd Petak - World Wind Caution
Yup, it's a killer application. Thanks to the American taxpayer for the gift.

A quick caution on using World Wind for trip planning though. The application uses a variety of data from a number of sources in order to construct it's 3D views. In no way can you guarantee that those data sources are coordinated in terms of time, or in fact are even equally out-of-date. It's conceivable and even likely, that the "car in the parking lot" was not photographed by the same satellite, or even anywhere near the same time as the data that indicates the contours around that same parking lot.

If you use World Wind for DETAILED trip planning, you could be looking at last year's crevasse pattern in the ice fall of the Wedge Glacier, rather than last weekend's. In fact the photo of the ice fall may not even match the underlying contours! This is obviously an issue when looking at things that change fairly rapidly. These days that means snowcover, glaciation, logging and logging roads etc.

The World Wind website is very good about telling you where, when and how the data is gathered and correlated. That said, with a little caution this is a great tool (and a great toy).

#444 - 2005.03.21 Matt Gunn - Wow!
Thanks for the link drew. This program is amazing. The capability to "fly through" terrain is very good. It's a very nice way to see what a region would like from a plane. Mountains, lakes and location can be portrayed in 3D and are totally recognizable. I was able to easily recognize areas in the Coast, Columbias and Guatemala in the space of a few minutes. I think this is the coolest thing i have ever seen on the web.