Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Earthsim 2011 Review

Here is a video of what we worked on through 2011

Looking back I am happily surprised by how much we got done.

Our next step is to upgrade the 2D GUI system to a 3D one that fully integrates with the 3D world.

The 2D GUI we have been using in the beta has always been a place-holder for us, so I'm very excited to move to the final system. We simply call this the 3DUI and it completes the Earthsim Universe browser as a fully fledged 3D zooming user interface or 3DZUI

Once this is complete we can rapidly start adding new editing features to let you change more of the world. We will enable everyone with an Earthsim account to make and save changes into their own accounts and even create your own 3D spaces and documentaries about them.

At the same time we continue to improve the content within the Earthsim Universe itself. We are still heading toward the next major content milestone of including all the 700+ discovered exoplanets in the Earthsim Universe.

And the great music is from the album Internal, by Jamie Catto and Alex Forster, its due out in September on Sounds True USA. otherwise goto http://www.jamiecatto.com  

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Water On Mars

Here is a video I just made showing how a sea would cover the surface Mars. It is interesting to watch what happens as the sea level changes and the surface features that brings out.

In the latest beta version of Earthsim we have added an experimental Planet Editor. Over the next year this will be changed quite a bit as we add a more physically correct model of planets.

Right now you can change some of the basic rendering settings for the planet data. In future we will let you change physical parameters for a planet and then run the simulation to see what happens.

The goal here is to let you set-up a physically correct planet with an atmosphere to let Earthsim calculate temperatures and rainfall on the surface of the planet. This then will allow a simple biome simulator to grow of kill life on the surface. This also allows for much more realistic surfaces to be generated for a planet as grasses, trees and plants will know where they can grow.

And here are the latest high res screen shots of Mars. Watch full screen or zoom into the pictures they are captured at 2048x1152.


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

High Res Earth

The new high res earth is live in Earthsim ! It looks fantastic. Here is a new earth album of very high res screen shots.


We have a host of other data improvements to the Moon and Mars as well as a basic experimental planet editor in. The planet editor is going to get much richer in future versions.

You can add a sea to the Moon or Mars or even the moon in the Epsilon Eridani system. I'm working on a video to show you this too.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Saturn Images

Today I was taking a look again at the moons of Saturn to consider which we should upgrade next. It was looking very pretty so I uploaded some new high res screen shots to the Saturn album.

I also made a new video while taking the images. It looses a lot compared to the real thing (the video compression and lower resolution reduces the quality)

Here is the full photo album. Be sure to watch in full screen for best effect.


Here are a few of the images from it.

From Saturn

From Saturn

From Saturn

From Saturn

From Saturn

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

High Res Earth

We have upgraded the resolution of the Earth data in Earthsim to 90M. Adding a minimum of eight times the data we used to have to the Earth. Some areas are at 10M resolution, I will post more about where to find these later.

You get to see some amazing 3D detail from the October update onward.

Here is the full album of the high res shots.


Here are two good ones of the Himalayas from space.

From Earth

From Earth

The new Earth is a multi resolution combination of many data sources:


ETOPO1 is 
used as a 1KM global base map of relief and bathymetry:
Amante, C. and B. W. Eakins, ETOPO1 1 Arc-Minute Global Relief Model: Procedures, Data Sources and Analysis. NOAA Technical Memorandum NESDIS NGDC-24, 19 pp, March 2009

CGIAR-CSI SRTM is layered onto it to provide a high resolution 90M land layer.
Jarvis A., H.I. Reuter, A. Nelson, E. Guevara, 2008, Hole-filled seamless SRTM data V4, International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), available from

We will continue adding sections as further super high resolution 10M datasets such as Hawaii, Maui and Mount St. Helens as we have time, but these will probably appear after the main release.

Colour Data
Colour data is generated procedurally and partially sourced from the blue marble images. Each further update of Earthsim will generate more colour procedurally and hence allow Earthsim to better model seasonal variation. To do this we will be using seasonal rainfall and temperature maps.

Thursday, 30 June 2011


Recently we have made some good progress on the exoplanet system for Earthsim so I put together this video to show some of the results we are beginning to get. The terrain is clearly bonkers, i.e. non-physical but it shows what you can do.

Everything in this video is done with some very basic settings. The very first version of the planet editor will let you change the simple things you see in this video

Later as we further develop the planetary weather and geological model we will have more interesting planets and effects.

The surface details you see as bold colours in this video are all sensitive to both temperature and precipitation so the detail system can be used for planting vegetation once the weather of a planet has stabilised.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Fractal Planets In Earthsim

While working on improving the accuracy of planets we had in Earthsim, we decided to start bringing up the fractal planet generator.

Fractal Planets

The fractal noise that is automatically generated gives the planet code a really good workout. The green planet in this video has very exaggerated mountains that show up any technical issues we have remaining in the terrain system, so we can see them to fix them.

Earthsim planets use a plug-in system to make it very easy to add all sorts of terrain features to a planet. Crater generators and even erosion can be simulated in these plug-ins and then added to a planet.

All the planet plug-ins run multi-threaded and can utilise the GPU, it would even be possible to run them over a p2p network so for very complex simulations of planets many users could work together on visualising them in real time.

When we are happy with this system, we will open-source the plug-ins so anyone who is code enabled can write their own planet generators.

Colour surface generators are similar to terrain height generators. We have some simple rules like those in Terragen for adding colours to a surface. These can also be used to extrapolate colours in a texture map for an existing 'real' planet such as the Earth, Moon or Mars.

In later updates of Earthsim all the rocks in space as well as the planets are going to be made using this same system, so you should be able to zoom into them almost forever.

Tools For Earthsim Users

Our plan is to expose more such 'edit' features in the Earthsim product itself so subscribers can tweak the high level rules that make a planet. You will be able to make planets within 'physically accurate' rules or drop those limits and go to the boundaries of the rendering system.

In this regard we have been giving the UI system a bit of an overhaul. Beta 2 of Earthsim will feature the new UI system as well as the beginnings of some tools to let you edit your own planets around distant stars.

Earthsim as a Wiki

Once you have made a change to Earthsim locally, you may want to start sharing your version of 'reality' with other users.

Our plan here is to follow a model similar to Wikipedia and let subscribers submit their changes. We have a few more exciting ideas along this route that we are experimenting with right now. I will post about them here once they are finalised.

Latest On Shadows

Dave also just fixed one more shadow glitch, so things are 'almost' rock solid there now. I thought I would do one more quick video of the improvements. It also shows some really nice interactions with the thicker atmosphere down in the valleys of Mars.