Planetary-Scale Terrain Composition

Robert Kooima, Jason Leigh, Andrew Johnson, Doug Roberts, Mark SubbaRao, Thomas A. DeFanti
Dept. of Comput. Sci. (MC 152), Univ. of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 2009


   title={Planetary-scale terrain composition},

   author={Kooima, R. and Leigh, J. and Johnson, A. and Roberts, D. and SubbaRao, M. and DeFanti, T.A.},

   journal={Visualization and Computer Graphics, IEEE Transactions on},







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Many interrelated planetary height map and surface image map data sets exist, and more data are collected each day. Broad communities of scientists require tools to compose these data interactively and explore them via real-time visualization. While related, these data sets are often unregistered with one another, having different projection, resolution, format, and type. We present a GPU-centric approach to the real-time composition and display of unregistered-but-related planetary-scale data. This approach employs a GPGPU process to tessellate spherical height fields. It uses a render-to-vertex-buffer technique to operate upon polygonal surface meshes in image space, allowing geometry processes to be expressed in terms of image processing. With height and surface map data processing unified in this fashion, a number of powerful composition operations may be uniformly applied to both. Examples include adaptation to nonuniform sampling due to projection, seamless blending of data of disparate resolution or transformation regardless of boundary, and the smooth interpolation of levels of detail in both geometry and imagery. Issues of scalability and precision are addressed, giving out-of-core access to giga-pixel data sources, and correct rendering at scales approaching one meter.
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