NASA World Wind Supports Google Earth Files

GEB has not mentioned much about NASA World Wind, a free application from NASA which provides a 3D virtual world interface similar to Google Earth. This was because until now you couldn’t view Google Earth content in World Wind (WW), and GEB is all about Google Earth. World Wind version 1.3.4 released last night officially supports a plugin allowing you to import Google Earth’s KML files including not only placemarks, but also the very powerful Google Earth network link. Now virtually all Google Earth files can also be used with World Wind. For Google Earth content creators your exposure has just increased (I’m trying to find out how many World Wind users there are). For WW users, they now have access to literally millions of new placemarks collections and powerful new applications. All they have to do is read about the GE files written about here at GEB, the Google Earth Community forums, or at any of the many other Google Earth-related blogs and sightseeing sites listed in the “Links” collection.
World Wind users will not have the ability to see the photos of the millions of objects marked in many KML files. GE provides free access to literally millions of dollars worth of high resolution satellite and aerial photographs not available for free anywhere else in the world. WW only includes freely-available satellite photos from NASA which are usually at much lower resolution, so things like details in downtown Las Vegas are only going to show up as a blur in World Wind’s satellite photos.
World Wind was developed by the science community at NASA for scientific visualization initially. And it has many visually exciting features for showing environmental and scientific data. Since Google Earth came out they seem to be increasingly adding features to make the tool more attractive to a wider audience. There are situations where you might want to use World Wind because it has some features not found in GE and vice versa. I’m just glad there are even more people out there who will realize the benefits to the GE file format.
[EDIT: 5:30 PM – the plugin supporting KML imports has been available to WW users for a few months now. It has just been improved and included for the first time with the official World Wind bundle. Also, I am told the resolution of Las Vegas is available from some free source for World Wind at up to about 1 foot resolution (only 4 times less than Google’s).]

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was released. He worked in 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition.

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