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.

Mars as Never Seen Before

Tonight, Monday the 5th of June, at 1900 EST there will be a stream of the American Museum of Natural History’s live presentation showing unseen details about Mars as recorded from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Context and HiRISE cameras.

Some information: American Museum of Natural History

Direct-manipulation in OpenSpace

Interacting with touch is for many people a direct and intuitive way to control a computer interface. This is especially powerful if the user doesn’t have to map a set of controls to different interactions, but the manipulation becomes what is physically expected. Direct-manipulation aims to do just that, which in effect removes the User Interface.

The method developed and used in OpenSpace is a screen-space formulation. Each frame contact point touches the surface of a celestial body, and the geographical surface coordinates of that body are found and saved through ray tracing. The camera transform then aims to move and orient itself such that it minimizes the distance between the current frame’s contact points on the screen and the last frame’s surface coordinates projected to the screen space. This is done with a non-linear least squares minimization algorithm. In effect, a geographical location is locked to the user’s contact points, and the camera moves such that the location follows the fingers. The solver is unconstrained, which means that adding more contact points simply introduces more degrees of freedom (up to six) that are to be controlled.

  • One contact point gives the user control over two degrees of freedom, which are taken to be the orbit X and Y angles around the focus.
  • Two contact points gives the user additional control of the distance and rotation related to the focus point.
  • Three or more contact points give the user control over all six degrees of freedom, with the last two being panning angles in X and Y.

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.