OpenSpace is open source interactive data visualization software designed to visualize the entire known universe and portray our ongoing efforts to investigate the cosmos.

OpenSpace brings the latest techniques from data visualization research to the general public.  OpenSpace supports interactive presentation of dynamic data from observations, simulations, and space mission planning and operations. OpenSpace works on multiple operating systems, with an extensible architecture powering high resolution tiled displays and planetarium domes, and makes use of the latest graphic card technologies for rapid data throughput.   In addition, OpenSpace enables simultaneous connections across the globe, creating opportunity for shared experiences among audiences worldwide.

Getting Down to Work

Emil: Lately, I have been focusing on developing the open source app C-Troll ( that will make it easier to launch and control applications such as OpenSpace on clustered environments. The application is split up into three tiers: A “core” application to run on a master node, which sends out commands to the slave nodes. Slaves run a “tray” application which receives commands, launch and quit applications as subprocesses, and collect log messages and send them back to the core. The third tier is a web application (which for example can run from a tablet) connected to the core application, which can be used to view log messages.

Alex: After a one-month hiatus of coding due to moving to a new city, I could finally return to it and spend my first week on fixing various issues. I started cleanup of the globebrowsing branch to make it look and feel more like the rest of the code base. In addition, we now have a script that will check some of the style guides for all files to maintain a consistent look to the include guards. Regarding non-coding events, I presented OpenSpace to an interested group at the MIT Media Lab, as well as my new home, the Center for Data Science at NYU.

Matt: After a first semester focused on coursework, I’m excited to be back on the project! I’m starting to dig into the multi-resolution volume rendering work done by Emil and Tomas so we can expand it, and I’m trying to improve the Launcher’s syncing process with more controls and validation.

Gene: I’m currently working on automatic download of satellite telemetry (TLE) files from This will allow users to run with the latest satellite data. I also spent a little time troubleshooting a problem with the FreeImage library on linux. This is what reads textures for planet surfaces and other things. The SOIL library works on linux, but has an image-flipped problem that was corrected with FreeImage. I worked with the VR port of OpenSpace a bit. I created separate SGCT cfg files for the HTC Vive and Occulus Rift, since they appear to use slightly different render target resolutions. The OpenVR wiki page was updated with this info.

SCI Utah!

On February 2nd and 3rd a group of OpenSpace developers and project leaders met at the Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute (SCI) at the University of Utah to plan out our activities for the coming year.

Over those two days there was a lot to discuss. After hearing reports on current status of functionality, software, and site reports, we had progress reports on specific developments for the past year, specifically dynamic scenegraph rendering (Emil), globe browsing (Alex), and atmospheric effects and integration of the Digital Universe catalog (Jonothas). Alex and Eric reviewed our development process and branching practices. We then had a productive discussion of GUI design, along with demonstrations of the GUI in two related products, DigiStar and UniView.

On the second day we had a demonstration of OpenSpace running on the PowerWall at SCI (and celebrated the fact that we’d found and fixed the cause of recent performace issues). In the afternoon we all got together to map out the work for the year, broken down into “Milestones” (often associated with future events) and the “issues” needed to achieve these milestones. These are now all visible on our GitHub site. There’s now lots to do, and we’ve all started doing it.

OpenSpace NYC: Cassini & Messenger Buildathon

See Your Visualizations of NASA Missions on the Planetarium Dome! c-h-18-a28-hayden_planetarium_at_night

Calling all 3D Artists, Graphics Programmers & Software Developers, Astronomers & Astrophysicists: Would you like to see your own interactive space simulation running on the Hayden Planetarium dome?

Come join our OpenSpace “Buildathon” and be among the first to join the OpenSpace creator community!

The Buildathon will take place at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City on October 29, 2016. For more information visit

Osiris-REx Launch Event at AMNH

sgct_openspace_000002_small Today, NASA launched the OSIRIS-REx mission to obtain a sample of the asteroid Bennu and return it to Earth for further study. Scientists chose to sample Bennu, a primitive, carbon-rich near-Earth object, due to its potentially hazardous orbital path and informative composition.

On Monday, Sept 12, join Carter Emmart at the American Museum of Natural History for an OpenSpace-built Osiris-REx after-hours public program in which the Osiris-REx mission’s projected trajectory and potential sampling locations will be visualized on the AMNH Hayden Planetarium dome.


New Horizons’ Media Responses

Breakfast at Pluto Event at AMNH LeFrak Theatre

Breakfast at Pluto Event at AMNH LeFrak Theatre

Our event was a great success with much media attention throughout the world. If you have a news article covering our event, please let us know! First and foremost, the whole event took place in a Google Hangouts that is available online: Youtube Pre-event information: American Museum of Natural History As for the news articles: International: Engadget Gizmodo SpaceFlight Insider Swedish: Linköping University Press Release Norrköpings Tidningar Corren

Prerelease for New Horizons’ Closest Approach

In honor of the closest approach of the New Horizons spacecraft at Pluto, we prepared another pre-alpha version of OpenSpace in binary form. You can find all information about this in the Download section (or by following this link).

Using this pre-alpha version, we organize a global event connecting many planetariums the world over to celebrate this unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Prerelease for Pluto-Palooza at the AMNH

To coincide with the Pluto Palooza at the AMNH, we are releasing a pre-alpha version of OpenSpace in binary form for Windows and Mac platforms. All information for this release is found here. was present at the Pluto-Palooza in New York and some of the OpenSpace footage is shown next to the great explanations of the mission scientists:


This Saturday we will have an unofficial demo session at the IMERSA conference hosted in Boulder, CO. The demo will be given in the Fiske planetarium after the official events and will be hosted by Carter Emmart and driven by Miroslav Andel.