Planet Earth

WorldWind – 3D virtual globe developed by NASA

WorldWind is an open source (released under the NOSA license) virtual globe initially developed by NASA’s Learning Technologies project. WorldWind allows any user to zoom from outer space into any place on Earth. WorldWind uses satellite imagery and elevation data to allow users to experience Earth terrain in visually rich 3D, just as if they were really there. Virtually visit anyplace in the world. Look across the Andes, into the Grand Canyon, over the Alps or along the African Sahara.

The program overlays NASA and USGS satellite imagery, aerial photography, topographic maps, Keyhole Markup Language (KML) and Collada files. Organizations across the world use WorldWind to monitor weather patterns, visualize cities and terrain, track the movement of planes, vehicles and ships, analyze geospatial data, and educate people about the Earth.

WorldWind provides a geographic rendering engine for powering a wide range of projects, from satellite tracking systems to flight simulators.

Features include:

  • Worlds:
    • Earth, Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and SDSS (the sky with stars and galaxies).
  • Imagery:
    • Blue Marble Next Generation – a true-color image of the entire Earth.
    • Landsat – a collection of images from 199-2003 at 15m per pixel resolution.
    • USGS – United States Geological Survey data.
    • ZoomIt – includes additional areas of high resolution imagery.
  • High-performance 3D Virtual globe API and SDK.
  • Adds geographic visualization to any application.
  • Runs in web pages.
  • Free run-time and development license.
  • Unencumbered use on any number of devices.
  • Huge collection of high-resolution imagery and terrain from NASA servers.
  • Displays high-resolution imagery, terrain and geographic information from any open-standard public or private source.
  • Open-standard interfaces to GIS services and databases.
  • Large collection of geometric and geographic shapes.
  • Simple to extend and modify, designed to be extensible.
  • Uses Java and OpenGL.
  • WMS web server for serving data over private networks and distributing your own data.
  • Graphics capabilities:
    • Point, Line, Path, Polygon, Curtain.
    • Volumes: Extruded Polygon, Ellipsoid, Sphere, Cylinder, Cone, Pyramid, Box, Airspaces (see below).
    • Terrain conforming shapes: Lines, Polygons, Ellipse, Circle, Quadrilateral, Rectangle, Square, Text, Image, Icon.
    • Airspaces: Box, Cake, Capped Cylinder (full and partial), Curtain, Orbit, PolyArc, Polygon, Route, Sphere, Track.
    • Annotation: Text, Text Balloon, HTML5 web-browser Balloon, Image, Icons, all with geo-located and screen versions.
    • Placenames, Political boundaries.
    • 2.5D “Flat Globe” with terrain.
    • Transparency.
    • Picking, Selection.
    • Navigation and Viewing: Orbit View, First Person, Stereo, application-defined.
    • Multiple World Wind windows.
    • Interactive shape editor.
  • Analysis:
    • Measurement,  geometric and terrain following.
    • Line of site with high-resolution terrain and shapes.
    • Terrain intersection.
    • Shape interactions.
  • Formats:
    • Imagery: JPG, PNG, GeoTIFF, JPEG2000 and many others.
    • Government formats: NITF, MrSID, RPF (CADRG, CIB, etc.), DTED and many others.
    • GIS formats: Shapefile, KML, VPF, GML, GeoJSON, GeoRSS, GPX, NMEA and many others.
    • Coordinate Systems: Lat/Lon, UTM, MGRS.
      • Datums: WGS84, NAD27 and many others.
  • Deploy as Java Application, Java Applet or Java Web Start Application.
  • GIS web service protocols: WMS, WFS.
  • Swing, AWT and JOGL integration.
  • Layer model with visibility and transparency control.
  • Highly configurable and customizable.
  • Automatic image and terrain retrieval from web services.
  • Animation: View, globe, object.
  • Local data cache.
  • Automatic region sorting.
  • Over 100 programming examples.
  • Plug-ins for GPS devices:
    • GPS Tracker.
    • GPS2WorldWind.
    • GPS.
  • API documentation.

Support: GitHub Code Repository
Developer: NASA Ames Research Center
License: NASA Open Source Agreement v1.3

WorldWind is written in Java and JavaScript. Learn Java with our recommended free books and free tutorials. Learn JavaScript with our recommended free books and free tutorials.

Return to Virtual Globe

Popular series
Free and Open Source SoftwareThe largest compilation of the best free and open source software in the universe. Each article is supplied with a legendary ratings chart helping you to make informed decisions.
ReviewsHundreds of in-depth reviews offering our unbiased and expert opinion on software. We offer helpful and impartial information.
Alternatives to Proprietary SoftwareReplace proprietary software with open source alternatives: Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Autodesk, Oracle, Atlassian, Corel, Cisco, Intuit, and SAS.
GamesAwesome Free Linux Games Tools showcases a series of tools that making gaming on Linux a more pleasurable experience. This is a new series.
Artificial intelligence iconMachine Learning explores practical applications of machine learning and deep learning from a Linux perspective. We've written reviews of more than 40 self-hosted apps. All are free and open source.
Guide to LinuxNew to Linux? Read our Linux for Starters series. We start right at the basics and teach you everything you need to know to get started with Linux.
Alternatives to popular CLI tools showcases essential tools that are modern replacements for core Linux utilities.
System ToolsEssential Linux system tools focuses on small, indispensable utilities, useful for system administrators as well as regular users.
ProductivityLinux utilities to maximise your productivity. Small, indispensable tools, useful for anyone running a Linux machine.
AudioSurveys popular streaming services from a Linux perspective: Amazon Music Unlimited, Myuzi, Spotify, Deezer, Tidal.
Saving Money with LinuxSaving Money with Linux looks at how you can reduce your energy bills running Linux.
Home ComputersHome computers became commonplace in the 1980s. Emulate home computers including the Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari ST, ZX81, Amstrad CPC, and ZX Spectrum.
Now and ThenNow and Then examines how promising open source software fared over the years. It can be a bumpy ride.
Linux at HomeLinux at Home looks at a range of home activities where Linux can play its part, making the most of our time at home, keeping active and engaged.
Linux CandyLinux Candy reveals the lighter side of Linux. Have some fun and escape from the daily drudgery.
DockerGetting Started with Docker helps you master Docker, a set of platform as a service products that delivers software in packages called containers.
Android AppsBest Free Android Apps. We showcase free Android apps that are definitely worth downloading. There's a strict eligibility criteria for inclusion in this series.
Programming BooksThese best free books accelerate your learning of every programming language. Learn a new language today!
Programming TutorialsThese free tutorials offer the perfect tonic to our free programming books series.
Linux Around The WorldLinux Around The World showcases usergroups that are relevant to Linux enthusiasts. Great ways to meet up with fellow enthusiasts.
Stars and StripesStars and Stripes is an occasional series looking at the impact of Linux in the USA.