Virtual Globes

From Seamonster
Jump to: navigation, search


Our core idea is that communicating about our research from data to methods to results to 'what next' is extremely important. We're concerned with geoscience so the best way to communicate by computer is start off with a virtual planet as a sort of substrate for everything else.

Virtual Globes are (generically) visualization systems that are based on images covering the earth. These images are typically optical and are tiered at multiple resolutions to permit one to zoom in and zoom out and pan around. One of the main points of a Virtual Globe is to let you place information that you care about on top of this image base, particularly information that you have generated. This page describes a few flavors of Virtual Globes with some remarks about what we've found good and bad about each.

Full disclosure: One of the SEAMONSTER co-Investigators (Rob Fatland) happily works for Microsoft which has produced a Virtual Globe engine called "Virtual Earth".

Likes and Dislikes

Virtual Earth (VE)

  • There are two SEAMONSTER-relevant versions of Virtual Earth worth noting at this time
  • The 2D mode for VE will not permit one to scroll across the date line at 180 degrees longitude. This barrier is inconvenient if you happen to looking around in that area.
  • The VE 2D map control is an Object that is easy to create in any web page (IE and Firefox verified).


Google Earth

World Wind (NASA)

Download and startup time

Google Earth

Download Google Earth

3-4 minutes to download and run Google Earth
4 seconds to launch from desktop
10 seconds to fly from one address to another

Nice: provides "tip of the day" great for the beginner who is just learning to navigate

Borders is a little confusing; shows the country borders on the back side of the globe as well

Virtual Earth

Download Virtual Earth 3D (Beta)

3 minutes to download
3 seconds to launch from desktop
4 seconds to fly from one address to another; another four seconds to manually fly to closest level and refine resolution
Zooms in very quickly and then refines the resolution

Close up images of my address are at least 2.5 years old; further out the images are slightly more recent

NASA World Wind

Download World Wind

4 minutes to download
3 seconds to launch from desktop

  • image quality
  • ease of access
  • user contributions
  • measuring things like distances
  • marking points of interest

Erica's Test Equipment

PC: hp Pavilion m8020n
OS: MS Vista
Connection: Cable/Broadband