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Open AccessArticle

Virtual Astronaut for Scientific Visualization—A Prototype for Santa Maria Crater on Mars

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis, 1 Brookings Drive, CB 1169, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Future Internet 2012, 4(4), 1049-1068;
Received: 16 July 2012 / Revised: 5 December 2012 / Accepted: 10 December 2012 / Published: 13 December 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geovisual Analytics)
To support scientific visualization of multiple-mission data from Mars, the Virtual Astronaut (VA) creates an interactive virtual 3D environment built on the Unity3D Game Engine. A prototype study was conducted based on orbital and Opportunity Rover data covering Santa Maria Crater in Meridiani Planum on Mars. The VA at Santa Maria provides dynamic visual representations of the imaging, compositional, and mineralogical information. The VA lets one navigate through the scene and provides geomorphic and geologic contexts for the rover operations. User interactions include in-situ observations visualization, feature measurement, and an animation control of rover drives. This paper covers our approach and implementation of the VA system. A brief summary of the prototype system functions and user feedback is also covered. Based on external review and comments by the science community, the prototype at Santa Maria has proven the VA to be an effective tool for virtual geovisual analysis. View Full-Text
Keywords: virtual reality; scientific visualization; data integration virtual reality; scientific visualization; data integration
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Wang, J.; Bennett, K.J.; Guinness, E.A. Virtual Astronaut for Scientific Visualization—A Prototype for Santa Maria Crater on Mars. Future Internet 2012, 4, 1049-1068.

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