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Paper: Interactive Visualization of Shadow Effects in the Planetary System of Saturn, its Rings and its Moons using an OpenGL Shader in IDL
Volume: 461, Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems XXI
Page: 801
Authors: Fajardo Hernandez, E. M.; Pomarède, D.
Abstract: The planetary system of Saturn, its rings and its moons is a fantastic playground where physicists are confronting theories and observations. Since its insertion into orbit in 2004, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft has returned a wealth of high-resolution images and data that calls for the development of dedicated interactive, immersive, three-dimensional, multi-purpose analysis and visualization tools. Alongside with observations, numerical simulations also provide new insights into the fundamental processes at stake in the formation of this system. The SDvision graphical interface, developed in the context of IDL Object Graphics and intended primarily for the visualization of complex and massive astrophysical plasma simulations, has been extended to provide an interactive visualization of both numerical simulations and observations of Saturn, its rings, and its moons. One major missing feature of IDL Object Graphics is the ability to render shadow effects at all. We have overcome this limitation by developing a custom GLSL Shader that is invoked by IDL objects. This Shader, based on purely geometrical computations, is fast and allows for seamless exploratory visualization of the planetary system.
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