Simon Bisson (sbisson) wrote,
Simon Bisson

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Worlds: Real and Imagined

I've been playing with two nifty geographical applications this week - and they're both free.

World Wind: an educational tool from NASA (Windows only), with a rotating globe made up of Landsat imagery, and the ability to overlay geopolitical information on the geographic globe. Lovely smooth rotations, and where available you can zoom into USGS topographic maps and to 1m aerial shots. There are tools finding recent geological and climatological events, as well as integration with NASA's scientific visualisation tools. It takes a while for some of the finer resolutions to load and render, but this really is a wonderful tool for exploring the world from your very own desktop earth-resources satellite... (Zooming in to the KSC is rather fun - you can just about count the vehicles in the VAB car parks) You will ned a good fast Internet connection for this - it's a big tool, and it does download large datasets from the net when required.

Terragen: if you get fed up with our world, why not make your own (Windows and Mac OS X). We've all seen fractal surface generation tools, like the classic Bryce, but Terragen makes it easy to build complex surfaces, and to render and explore your own brave new worlds. There are a lot of tools here - but it's easy to get to grips with the basic rendering functions, and to produce quite detailed imaged quickly. You can even render to a planetary curvature- so those Valles Marineris ESA images could end up being made on your desktop PC... While registering Terragen unlocks a range of extra features, for everyday rendering the free version is pretty decent...

Imagined Worlds
A quick Terragen test landsacpe</a>
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