Monash University
mars_flood17.mp4 (97.87 MB)

Mars Oceans Visualisation

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posted on 2020-08-13, 07:27 authored by Owen KaluzaOwen Kaluza, David Barnes
Mars Oceans Visualisation: Owen Kaluza, David G. Barnes - Monash University - Monash Immersive Visualisation Platform

Visualisation: December 2019, Movie render: August 2020

A visualisation of the Martian planet surface and topography created from public domain data obtained from the USGS Astrogeology Science Center:

The equirectangular colour and DEM images are first converted to 6 cube map faces and applied to a set of 6 normalised cube-face meshes for a more regular mapping of the sphere surface without pinching artifacts at the poles. Topography height is exaggerated times three to better highlight features from a distant perspective.

The base planet rendering is similar to, and was inspired by, an early visualisation displayed at the Monash CAVE2 facility from Robert Kooima of the University of Illinois in Chicago's Electronic Visualization Lab here.

Using a custom set of shaders, a dynamic visualisation was created to allow exploration of how the planet and it's topographical features might appear under varying levels of ocean height by simulating the appearance of water at user-defined height levels.

To create this animation the water height is raised incrementally as the planet rotates. Lighting and motion attempts to recreate the actual characteristics of the rotation of the planet Mars, with its 25 degree axial tilt towards the sun and anti-clockwise rotation looking from the north pole.

At lower terrain level of detail (2048 x 2048 x 6) the frame rate is high enough to allow the model to be interactively explored, the animations were produced at full terrain detail (4096 x 4096 x 6).

Visualisation was created using LavaVu


Fergason, R. L, Hare, T. M., & Laura, J. (2018). HRSC and MOLA Blended Digital Elevation Model at 200m v2. Astrogeology PDS Annex, U.S. Geological Survey.

Albee, A. L., Arvidson, R. E., Palluconi, F., & Thorpe, T. (2001). Overview of the Mars Global Surveyor mission. Journal of Geophysical Research, 106(E10), 23291–23316.

Batson, R. M., & Eliason, E. M. (1991). Digital Maps of Mars. Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing, 61(12), 1499–1507.

Kooima, Robert, Jason Leigh, Andrew Johnson, Doug Roberts, Mark SubbaRao, and Thomas A. DeFanti. "Planetary-scale terrain composition." IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics 15, no. 5 (2009): 719-733.

Owen Kaluza, Louis Moresi, John Mansour, & David G Barnes. (2019, March 6). OKaluza/LavaVu: v1.3.2 (Version 1.3.2). Zenodo.


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