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

Funded in part by NASA, 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.

OpenSpace Live Stream Event: Sun Earth Interaction – 3/24/18

Life on Earth is made possible by its proximity to the Sun. Yet even with the protection of our magnetic field, we face a daily barrage of radiation—the solar wind—which flows outward from the Sun.

Follow NASA Goddard’s Community Coordinated Modeling Center’s researchers Masha Kuznetsova and Leila Mays in their explanations about this fascinating topic during a live event at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium. We will also be exploring the nature of eclipses and showing eclipse models provided by Jon Linker, Predictive Science Inc.

The content is rendered using the open-source Astrovisualization framework OpenSpace ( , which is a collaboration between Linköping University, the American Museum of Natural History, Goddard’s Community Coordinated Modeling Center, New York University, and the University of Utah.

Join the live stream event here:

Journey To Space!

Join us for a live connection event on January 27th, 2018 with Dr. Carter Emmart, Director of Astrovisualization at the Hayden Planetarium, American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), where he will take us on a spectacular tour of the solar system and beyond, including imagery of Mars, star fields and the edge of the Universe. This tour utilizes new, open-source software called OpenSpace, an amazing digital tool being developed that uses all real data from NASA missions, including from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Hubble Space Telescope, and many others, to bring the wonders of the universe to our doorstep! The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is excited to be partnering with the AMNH team on this NASA-funded project to develop programming using OpenSpace. Imagery from this software is also on continuous display in the Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Lab.

Image: View of West Candor Chasm, made with OpenSpace using high-resolution data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Beta release of OpenSpace


We are very happy to announce the first Beta release of OpenSpace to the public. A link to the Windows pre-built version can be found on the download page. The code is available on GitHub as well. Binaries for supported non-Windows platforms (MacOS and Linux) can be build from scratch using the code. In case of any questions or issues, send us an email or join our Slack group.

A full change log is available, but the two biggest features are the inclusion of physically-based atmospheric model for planets and a complete redesign of the scene specification. This latter change enables easier deployment and more stable synchronization for new assets in the future.

Carter Emmart, Director of Astrovisualization at the American Museum of Natural History, recorded a set of tutorial videos that are published on our YouTube channel or on this page under Tutorials.

New Prerelease of OpenSpace for ASTC

We just published a new prerelease of OpenSpace (prerelease-15) for the ASTC conference that just finished in San Jose. This release includes a large set of changes, the biggest of which is the initial implementation of a fully volumetric atmosphere around Earth and Mars, the complete integration of the American Museum of Natural History’s Digital Universe dataset, easier integration of GeoTiff images on planetary surfaces, initial steps towards HDR rendering, and the ability to record the output of OpenSpace using the Spout library. You can find the download and instructions here. In case of any questions or issues, send us an email or join our Slack group.

The American Museum of Natural History is hiring!

We are currently looking to fill the position of an Integration Engineer for OpenSpace. Part of the work is making sure that the software is working well with our planetarium partners so that they can produce live shows and content, supporting the backend technical development of the software with an aim towards the Hayden planetarium, maintaining the continuous integration system, including a nightly build, and providing some front-end development support.

For this we require someone with C++ and OpenGL experience and the ability to work with a variety of operating systems and compilers to ensure a stable code base.

The application is open on the AMNH webpage:

Sun-Earth Connection – 6/27 public program at AMNH

Life on Earth is made possible by its proximity to the Sun. Yet even with the protection of our magnetic field, we face a daily barrage of radiation — the solar wind — which flows outward from the Sun. Should we worry about this “space weather?” NASA heliophysics Masha Kuznetsova and Leila Mays from NASA Goddard’s Community Coordinated Modeling Center will join Carter Emmart for an immersive look at this beautiful (and potentially dangerous) phenomenon.

Join tomorrow evening (Tuesday 27 June, 2017) at 7:00pm EST, as Masha and Leila present research about the Sun-Earth connection in the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium using the OpenSpace software.

More info:…/astronomy-live-earth-sun-connection

The event will be live streamed:

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.


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