One of the challenges of visualization software design is providing real-time tools capable of concurrently displaying data that varies temporally and in scale from kilometers to micrometers, such as the data prevalent in planetary exploration and deep-sea marine research. The Viz software developed by NASA Ames and the additions of the X-Core extensions solve this problem by providing a flexible framework for rapidly developing visualization software capable of accessing and displaying large dynamic data sets. This paper describes the Viz/X-Core design and illustrates the operation of both systems over a number of deployments ranging from marine research to Martian exploration. Highlights include a 2002 integration with live ship operations and the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity.
The current rate of Mars exploration data acquisition demands that geoscientists and computer scientists coordinate central storage, processing and visualization strategies to anticipate future technological advancements. We investigate how existing 3-D visualization tools can be used to study a part of the Mars orbiter and lander data (about 4 terabytes of data). Our tools assist in juxtaposition of different datum and in viewing data that spans multiple orders of magnitude, specifically for current scientific research pertaining to Mars’ geophysics and geology. These tools also permit effective data fidelity and resolution assessment, allowing quick identification of problems related to the use of differing spatial coordinate systems, a continued problem. Knowledge gained from the small dataset we test, helps us identify key tools needed to accommodate the technology required to process and analyze approximately 64 terabytes of Mars data expected by 2008. We use the current planetary data archives, and identify key visualization techniques and tools that distill multiple data types into manageable end products. Our goal is to broaden the user base, using readily available platform-independent freeware packages, while simultaneously including sufficient modularity to be compatible with future technologies.