Day 4

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Paper title Orbiter: Earth Visualization App
  1. Tyler Rayner Rayner Sofrware Speaker
Form of presentation Poster
  • C2. Digital Twins
    • C2.01 Towards a Digital Twin of the Earth - advances and challenges ahead
Abstract text Orbiter is an Earth visualization application for iPhone and iPad. It presents a virtual Earth to the user, enabling deep and engrossing interaction through vivid 3D graphics and augmented reality.

Orbiter's data comes from the Sentinel satellites. We collect Sentinel 2 imagery, as well as Sentinel 3 and 5P sensor data, process this information into high-resolution imagery, and present it to the user through our app. The globe comes alive, revealing recent satellite imagery at Sentinel 2's maximum 10m resolution. A menu of overlays is available, each presenting an animated time-lapse layer of data. These include weather, air pollution, oceanic data, and more.

Orbiter's backend is OPIE: the Orbiter Planetary Intelligence Engine. This major component of the application runs on the server side, automatically downloading Sentinel's latest data files from SciHub and CODA. Our servers do extensive processing on this data to make it easily accessible to the end user of our app. Raw images as converted from the original JPEG2000 format into device-friendly tiles of 1024x1024 pixels, with no loss of resolution and virtually no loss of pixel data. They are further compressed into ASTC format, an advanced texture compression technique normally used in 3D games. This compression combined with efficient programming techniques and the most high-performance graphics technologies available, i.e. Metal, enables an engrossing, full-frame-rate user experience.

Data from the Sentinel 3 and 5p satellites is processed from its native raw NetCDF form into continuous-tone greyscale images. Data from satellite orbital sweeps is concatenated to form near whole-earth images, which are then arranged sequentially and compressed into video form. In this way, we apply traditional graphics and video compression techniques to data, yielding massive performance benefits. This allows the user of Orbiter to not only see fully animated overlays of data, but also to select a point and perform an instantaneous analysis of a particular geographical location. By simply tapping, a user can generate, for example, a time graph of NO₂ air pollution over the city of Tokyo.

Orbiter is designed to take ESA's massive collection of EO data, and make it accessible to as many people as possible. This has broad benefits for ESA's mission and for the communication of ESA's work to the public. Orbiter could be used in schools, in corporations, by researchers and engineers, by anyone with a curiosity about our planet and environment. Orbiter's mission to to make EO data available to everyone.