This is a client-server application for displaying very large (=global scale) terrain models. The terrain database is stored on a server, and the client program only fetches the data required for generating an image on your screen with the wanted resolution. As you moves around the program loads and throws out data as needed.
The Virtual Globe requires Java 1.5 or better installed on your computer, testing for Java:
Try the Viewpoints page to start the Globe and
jump directly to exciting viewpoints!
Images are loaded using a proxy WMS from the NASA OnEarth server. Our server
caches the images so that when an area is visited once, by anybody,
the images are available for everybody else without accessing the
overloaded NASA server. The images have a resolution of 15m over large
parts of the earth.
Digital Chart of the World line data are fetched from the GLOBE project. The DCW
data are disabled by default, you have to go to the coverage menu in
the Virtual Globe data hierarchy to enable manually. The DCW server
seems to be down at present, this data currently disabeled
Before the proxy cache fills up image access is going to be slow. If you think it is too slow and the images never reaches the resolution level you expect, it is most probably because the NASA server is overloaded and refuses any more connections. Try again later!
Click to start Virtual Globe
Click to start Land and seafloor Globe
The application initially shows the Norwegian town Tønsberg and the Finnish town Turku. The VRML building models from Tønsberg and Turku where designed by the Helsinki University of Technology, Computer Science Lab for the TellMaris project. The terrain and image texture data shown here are fairly coarse. We had better in the Tellmaris project (as shown in the image to the left...), but as it is copyrighted data from the Norwegian and Finnish mapping authorities and the authorities of the cities of Turku and Tønsberg we can not distribute it to the general public. (We even had 3d trees!) The picture gallery has some example screenshots.
The VRML loader used is the Xj3D toolkit from the web3d consortium. The VRML libraries are installed automatically.
Click below to start Virtual Globe with 3D features:
Click here to start Globe with Placenames
For all commands; combining with [shift] accelerates the key and mouse action. It is also possible to type position and view direction for the view point directly into the navigation panel under the 3D view.
|Mouse commands in the 3D window||Key commands in the 3D window||To fly|
In the upper left corner of the Virtual Globe main window there is an overview map. Movements in the map and 3D view are interlinked. There are corresponding mouse and key commands to move around in the map view.
|Mouse commands in the map window||Key commands in the map window|
Some advice for efficient navigation in the 3D world:
If this is the first time you use the Virtual Globe you'll be asked if you trust data delevered by Thawte Freemail Member (that's me...) and Sun Microsystems. If you answer no you won't be able to start the application. You may see a warning that some certificates are outdated, this warning is not dangerous.
If you see this error message: it is normally caused by an error in the network path to the server or an errounous download of the Globe software libraries. If there is a network problem, and the fault is not on your side you just have to wait. To reload the Globe libraries (and other Java Web Start applications) type the command "javaws -uninstall" in a CMD (DOS) window or in the Run... panel in the Windows Start menu. Then restart the Globe.
Your web browser may ask what to do with a file of type: application/x-java-jnlp-file. You should answer that it should be opened by the program 'javaws'.
Graphics system: This application requires a graphics processor. It does not have large demands, older models like Radeon 7500 and GeForce2 or newer versions of Intel integrated graphics are sufficient. You shoud install recent versions of graphic drivers (the control programs for your graphics processor). They may be downloaded from the homepages of your computer or graphics card manufactorer. If the application craches or shows unexpected lines and triangles over the screen it is most probably because of a faulty graphics procssor or drivers. We have had some problems with graphics processors from Matrox.
If you get a screen like this: it is most probably caused by a problem we have met with some graphics processors. It may help to switch to a simpler graphics system. Open the Tools/Configuration menu and select the "User interface" panel. Switch off "Use 3D objects", select "OK" and restart the Globe. In the models containing buildings and other 3D objects you will not be able to see them with the simpler graphics system.
Memory: You should have at least 256MB of free memory, and even that is on the small side. Windows XP uses almost 200MB only for it self and the Virtual Globe uses another 200MB. Windows Vista requires 1 GB for itself, and Vista computers should have at least 2 GB to work comfortably. If the program reacts slowly, stops for several seconds or takes a while to start the problem is most probably too little memory.
Network and local disc cache: A fast broadband connection is preferable, but also slower connections (modem/ISDN) should work. The application stores data for already visited areas on your local disc, which reduces network traffic and network dependency. This is of great help when using slow network connections. The parameters for local disc caching can be adjusted in the menu Tools/Configuration. If you should run short of disk space the folder can be deleted with no negative impact except that the application has to reload data from the server.
Firewall: If you are behind a proxy firewall (several organizations with a strict security policy uses one) all programs that accesses external internet has to go through the firewall and has to know the IP address of the firewall. Usually Java gets proxy configuration data from your web browser, but some browsers doesn't give this information. You'll then have to set this manually in the 'Java Control Panel'. Open this as described below. Open the 'General' tab and select 'Network settings'. Add your proxy parameters, ask your system administrator if neccessary.
Java Control Panel: Open the 'Run' dialog from the Windows 'Start' menu. Write the command 'javaws -viewer' and select 'Ok'. Alternatively start the command 'javaws -viewer' in a command interpreter ('cmd' or DOS window). This will open two windows: 'Java Cache Viewer' og 'Java Control Panel'. Close 'Java Cache Viewer', we will use 'Java Control Panel'.
Java Console: If you should require assistance it would be of great help if you could send error messages from the java console window. To enable the java console start the 'Java Control Panel' as described above, and open the 'Advanced' tab. Open 'Java Console' and select 'Show Console'. Next time the Virtual Globe is started you will also get a text window showing messages from the program. Copy the messages into a mail and send to me together with a description of your problems.
In the period 2001-2003 the Virtual globe was used in the EU financed Tellmaris project for developing 3D visualization for boat tourists. It has also been used for other tourist information research projects and for urban and rural area visualization.