Emergent Uses Virtual Reality to Enable NASA Discovery of New Star Groups

LAUREL, MD (February 3, 2020) – Through its development of a Virtual Reality (VR)-based 3D interface for the OpenFrames high-performance visualization toolkit, Emergent has enabled NASA scientists to discover new star groups in our galaxy. The discovery is explained on the NASA Goddard Space Flgiht Center (GSFC) website, and is made possible by their PointCloudsVR software (available on NASA’s GitHub page at https://github.com/nasa/PointCloudsVR).

Emergent is the primary developer of the OpenFrames 3D visualization toolkit, which enables simulation developers to easily add interactive 3D visualizations to their science and engineering applications. OpenFrames-enabled applications also have the ability to visualize any scene in VR without additional expensive software development. Over the course of a Phase III SBIR contract with GSFC (80NSSC18P0728), Emergent further enhanced OpenFrames by implementing 3D VR-based GUI widgets via the Qt GUI library. As a result of this work, GSFC software developers were able to use OpenFrames to create the PointCloudsVR software and visualize a scientifically significant subset of the Gaia DR2 star dataset. This led to the discovery of new star groups in the Milky Way Galaxy by NASA scientists.

In addition to PointCloudsVR, OpenFrames also provides visualizations for the Copernicus Trajectory Design and Optimization System (NASA JSC), the General Mission Analysis Tool (GMAT, NASA GSFC), and other defense-related software tools. By consistently using OpenFrames for NASA’s scientific design and analysis tools, Emergent helps NASA remain a strong leader in the scientific community while also enabling cost savings by reusing software.