The realistic and high-quality visualization of the satellite components and the environment are important factors for the success of a training simulation. This includes not only the photo-realistic rendering of detailed virtual objects with correct shading and high-resolution textures, but also the correct representation of the environmental effects that exist in orbit, such as bright sunlight, a moving earth in the background, and hard shadows.
Fig.: Earth with atmospheric scattering, day and night side.
Fig.: Satellite components.
Fig.: A user interacting in front of a Powerwall.
Utilizing the modular system architecture of VR-OOS, we currently use three independent implementations of the visualization based on
each with their own specific advantages. High-quality real-time rendering is managed through the use of high resolution textures and advanced rendering techniques. Satellite components and the space environment are visualized with realistic material effects, exact star positions, and an earth with clouds and atmospheric scattering. The visualization system is designed for immersive virtual reality displays and scales from simple desktop displays and head-mounted displays up to multi-pipe Powerwalls and CAVE-like surround projection-based display systems.
Being a training and analysis tool, another research aspect of the visualization component is to augment the photo-realistic visualization of the virtual scene with the information-based, non-photo-realistic visualization of scientific data. Examples are the display of collisions between the robot and satellite parts or possible motion paths avoiding collisions. Additionally, hints on the order of servicing sub-tasks or other instructions for the astronaut or operator could be overlaid on top of satellite parts in the 3D virtual environment.