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Planetary-Scale Terrain Composition
September/October 2009 (vol. 15 no. 5)
pp. 719-733
Robert Kooima, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago
Jason Leigh, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago
Andrew Johnson, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago
Doug Roberts, Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, Chicago
Mark SubbaRao, Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, Chicago
Thomas A. DeFanti, Calit2, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla
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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Index Terms:
Terrain visualization, GPU, GPGPU, render-to-vertex-buffer, level-of-detail.
Robert Kooima, Jason Leigh, Andrew Johnson, Doug Roberts, Mark SubbaRao, Thomas A. DeFanti, "Planetary-Scale Terrain Composition," IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, vol. 15, no. 5, pp. 719-733, Sept.-Oct. 2009, doi:10.1109/TVCG.2009.43
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