Open Space: A tool for space research and communication

OpenSpace is an international open source software development project, with its seat in Norrköping. It is designed to visualize data in astronomy-related research and development. The software serves three purposes

  1. Bringing the latest techniques from data visualization research to the general public through interactive contextualized presentations of dynamic data from observations, and space mission planning and operations.
  2. Serve as a tool in the astro-research domain for experts to analyze data and space missions.
  3. Be a driver for development of new visualization research and technology. Examples of all three aspects are found in the recent publication on planetary Globe Browsing, which received the best paper award at the IEEE SciVis conference in 2017. The software works on multiple operating systems with an extensible architecture powering desktop workstations, high resolution tiled displays, and planetarium domes, making use of the latest graphic card technologies for rapid data throughput paving the path for widespread use of Astrographics.

External funding and synergies: The project stems from an academic collaboration between Linköping University (LiU) and the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). The base funding for the project comes from NASA (6 MUSD over 5 years) and also involves Goddard Space Flight Center, NYU, and University of Utah. In Sweden, the base funding is the SeRC contribution which enables participation in and coordination of the project. The recent initiative WISDOME (Wallenberg Immersive Science Communication Domes) will provide an infrastructure of five domes in Sweden and will serve as a test bed and production environment for OpenSpace, and will heavily rely on the remote components of OpenSpace. This initiative will also create large visibility for SeRC as host of the Swedish part of OpenSpace. The interest in OpenSpace in Sweden spans all of the space and astronomy- related research groups. Most recently the inclusion of support for data from the Gaia instrument has initiated a collaboration with the department of astronomy in Lund.