World Wind

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Blue Marble: View of the eastern hemisphere
Blue Marble: View of the eastern hemisphere

World Wind, a 3D interactive world viewer, was developed by the NASA Learning Technologies program at NASA Ames Research Center. Initially released in mid-2004 under the NASA Open Source Agreement, it is now developed by NASA staff and open source community developers.



SRTM + LandSat 7: Mt. St. Helens, Washington
SRTM + LandSat 7: Mt. St. Helens, Washington

At its simplest you can think of World Wind as a desk globe, however World Wind is not a simple desk globe.

World Wind allows any user to zoom from outer space into any place on Earth. World Wind leverages satellite imagery and elevation data to allows users to experience Earth terrain in visually rich 3D, just as if they were really there. Virtually visit anyplace in the world. Look across the Andes, into the Grand Canyon, over the Alps or along the African Sahara.

Unlike your desk globe World Wind can display thousands of placenames all over the world, from Country capitals to villages in sparsely populated regions. You can see country borders, and in some cases intracountry borders such as US states.

World Wind can also be expanded to include additional imagery and data. There have already been a number of add-ons created, from Norway's Prehistoric Hillforts to additional planets.


World Wind offers the following built-in features:


  • Blue Marble — World Wind has a full copy of the Blue Marble, a spectacular true-color image of the entire Earth. Put together from data of a variety of satellites such as MODIS and Terra, the Blue Marble can be seen in all its glory at 1 km per pixel resolution.
  • LandSat 7 — LandSat 7 is a collection of images from 1999-2003 at an impressive 15 m per pixel resolution. LandSat 7's resolution makes it possible to see your own city, neighborhood, or landmarks in your vicinity. Seeing the whole globe like this puts the world in context with scientifically accurate data. You can view LandSat imagery in visible colors or in False Color bands.
  • USGS — United States Geological Survey data. USGS provides Topography maps, 1-Meter detail images of most of the United States and Urban Area images of most of the major cities down to detail of .25 Meters.

Terrain Data

  • SRTM — Combining LandSat 7 imagery with Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) Data, World Wind can display a dramatic view of the Earth at eye level. Users will literally be able to fly across the world in any direction.


  • Rapid Fire MODIS — For getting near real time images from orbiting satellites with resolution down to 250Meter. You can filter the MODIS data by date and by event. Data is then downloaded and displays an icon in World Wind showing what event it is and where it happened. You can zoom in to view the event.
  • WMS Browser — Web Mapping Server allows you to connect to any WMS server such as the included SVS.
    • SVS (Scientific Visualization Studio) — Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) has produced a set of visually intense animations that demonstrate a variety of subjects such as hurricane dynamics and seasonal changes across the globe. World Wind can take these animations and play them directly on the world. Anyone can immediately grasp where the event is taking place as World Wind rotates automatically into view.

See Also

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