Our broad vision of the ADVISER PSE (Advanced Visualization in Solar System Exploration and Research Problem Solving Environment) is to help geologists do their research by enabling them to go "into the field" through immersive virtual reality technologies that both recreate remote places like Mars and Antarctica using satellite data and other computed data like climate models, as well as enable the development and use of tools supporting the research. Today, ADVISER's implementation is a set of tools that provides planetary geoscientists with the capability to operate and analyze data as if they were on or near the surface of a planet.

A multi-disciplinary team is working towards this vision led by PI James Head of Planetary Geosciences and co-PI Andries van Dam of Computer Science.

Enabled by the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) and a 2004 NASA Applied Information Systems Research (AISR) grant, we have developed multiple core capabilities and tools in ADVISER and applied them successfully to advancing space science knowledge. This work also advanced visualization tools for space science and education by integrating and extending state-of-the-art hardware and software technologies. A three-pronged science approach built on our central strengths in planetary geoscience, as well as the basic NASA research and exploration theme for "Follow the Water" for Mars, and thus provided scientifically credible direction for tool research and scientific discovery.

Using the ROAM 2 library written by Mark Duchaineau we created a VR simulation of the Martian surface using a four-walled Cave system. Data provided by the Brown Department of Geological Sciences Planetary Geosciences group is interpreted and rendered and allows scientists to 'walk on Mars,' explore and conduct observations in support of their research.


The scientific problems being worked on in ADVISER are from Brown University Planetary Geosciences Group.


Features :

Explanation of Cave menu and functionality.

To aid the Brown Planetary Geoscience investigators, we have added a series of tools and features to the Mars visualization. All tools and interactions use a headtracked goggle system, and a four-button motion-tracked wand. A description of these tools follows:
Tool Description
Beacons A user can click on the terrain and place a beacon marking an area of interest.
Climate Readout Brings up a readout of GCM simulation data (stored at NetCDF files), including wind velocity, temperature and pressure readouts, as well as latitude and longitude information. The user can cycle through different solar days to see the variation of variables over time.
Global Planes The user can move a translucent horizontal plane through the rendered terrain; the intersection of the plane with the terrain gives a line of constant elevation.
Contours Using fragment shaders, this feature provides multiple contour lines that the user can move in real-time.
Distance Mode Measures and displays the distance between two selected beacons.
Terrain Profile The user can select two points; a heightfield profile of the 'slice' going between these points is displayed.
Strike/Dip The user can select multiple points on the surface; the program computes a best fitting plane and returns the strike and dip values.
Inset Mode A small overlay map can be displayed to display the user position and beacon locations relative to the entire globe.
Image Overlays ADVISER can display a variety of image overlays on top of the terrain, such as Viking, THEMIS, HRSC and MOC. These datasets are textured on top of the MOLA topography.
Lighting The user can display different colormaps (elevation/slope based); specify the direction for illumination; or set the illumination direction based on the solar position for a certain time of the year.
Scale Tools The user can change the vertical exaggeration factor for the topography. He can also change the global scale for the model.
Traverse This mode can show traverses on the terrain. Currently being used in the Mars Palmer Quest Mission Design Project, a Tablet PC can be used to interactively edit traverses. A function can be evaluated along the traverse to indicate interesting areas.

More system details..

Participants :

Prof. Jim Head (Geology)
Prof. Andy van Dam (Computer Science)

Sam Fulcomer (CCV)
Andy Forsberg (Computer Science)
Prabhat (CCV)
James (Jay) Dickson (Geology)

Graduate Students:
Caleb Fassett (Geology)
Seth Kadish (Geology)
Laura Kerber (Geology)
Joe Levy (Geology)
Gareth Morgan (Geology)
Sam Schon (Geology)

Undergraduate Students:
Ailish Kress (Geology)
Lillian Ostrach (Geology)

For more information, please contact Professor James Head.