OpenSpace is an open source interactive data visualization software designed to visualize the entire known universe and portray our ongoing efforts to investigate the cosmos. Bringing the latest techniques from data visualization research to the general public, OpenSpace supports interactive presentation of dynamic data from observations, simulations, and space mission planning and operations. The software works on multiple operating systems with an extensible architecture powering high resolution tiled displays and planetarium domes, making use of the latest graphic card technologies for rapid data throughput. In addition, OpenSpace enables simultaneous connections across the globe creating opportunity for shared experiences among audiences worldwide.  

OpenSpace is new, NASA supported, open source, non-commercial, and freely available software that brings the latest techniques from data visualization research to the planetarium community and general public world wide.  The project stems from the same academic collaboration between Sweden’s Linköping University (LiU) and the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) that led to the creation of Uniview and its parent company SCISS.  Development of the software began several years ago through a close collaboration with NASA Goddard’s Community Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC) to model space weather forecasting and continued last year with visualization of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto and ESA’s Rosetta mission. This promising set of preliminary work provided a foundation for recent NASA funding, which has extended the collaboration to include the University of Utah’s Scientific Computing and Imaging (SCI) Institute, New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, multiple informal science institutions across the United States, and multiple, international vendors. Current areas of focus within OpenSpace include:

  • Visualization of dynamic simulations via interactive volumetric rendering, as a priority for communicating research in astrophysics.
  • Utilization of NASA’s SPICE observational geometry system with its Planetary Data Service (PDS) to enable space mission visualization that reveal how missions are designed to gather science.
  • Globe browsing techniques across spatial and temporal scales to examine scientific campaigns on multiple planets, including close up surface exploration.