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Show HN: Data-viz project for ray-tracing the Moon model (github.com)
72 points by ray_gray 51 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 11 comments

Ray-tracing is done in a Python notebook. Data originates from NASA public resources. I searched for the highest resolution data to make the Moon almost touchable. So it is made of 118m elevetion model and 480m surface color. There is also 59m elevation model, but this 22GB does not really fit into my laptop's GPU.

Code can run on GCP instance. Laptop/desktop is more convenient, though.

If you'd like to go straight to pictures: https://www.behance.net/gallery/84326717/Making-of-the-Moon

or tutorial: https://medium.com/@sulej.robert/the-moon-made-twice-at-home...

pretty photos, and nice work!

more than anything, though, thanks for introducing me to PlotOptiX! It looks like a great way to plot scientific data in 3D :D

Thanks to all for the feedback and comments!

@rcarmo Yes, bumps are enhanced, to make the surface more dramatic. This scale is a parameter in the notebook, it can be set to the realistic 1.15% of the mean radius.

On another forum, someone pointed out that the Lambertian shading makes the Moon surface too smooth. So the diffuse material roughness will come in the next PlotOptiX release, in a few days. :)

Maybe this help with: https://github.com/x3dom/x3dom

As I heard it's based on explicit DOMs.

Have anyone tried X3DOM?

The video is very nice, although the bump/displacement seems a little too strong - craters should look a little shallower :)

The Medium article says that was intentional:

> That gives the elevation spread of about 1.15% of the mean radius. I’ll use a bit higher value of 2%, so the terrain features are more prominent.

I missed that bit, thanks!

Do you use Lola data? What resolution and from where?

Yes, 118m resolution, it is from: https://astrogeology.usgs.gov/search/details/Moon/LRO/LOLA/L...

All other sources (surface color, star map in the background) are referenced in notebooks, gallery, and tutorial as well.

What hardware did you use to produce such photos?

PlotOptiX requires NVIDIA GPU. I used GTX1060/6GB on a laptop for most of the work. Tested also on a desktop RTX1070/8GB, much better fps, of course. Video is done on RTX. In Google Cloud, on V100, runs even faster, but GUI is more convenient on local machine.

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