WorldWind South Africa


At its simplest you can think of World Wind as a desk globe, however World Wind is not a simple desk globe.

World Wind allows any user to zoom from outer space into any place on Earth. World Wind uses satellite imagery and elevation data to allow users to experience Earth terrain in visually rich 3D, just as if they were really there. Virtually visit anyplace in the world. Look across the Andes, into the Grand Canyon, over the Alps or along the African Sahara.

SRTM + LandSat 7: Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

Unlike your desk globe World Wind can display thousands of placenames all over the world, from Country capitals to villages in sparsely populated regions. You can see country borders, and in some cases intracountry borders such as US states.

NASA World Wind can also be expanded to include additional imagery and data. There have already been a number of add-ons created, from Norway's Prehistoric Hillforts to South Africa's topographic maps and aerial photography.

Most noticeable of all, World Wind is the interplanetary exploration tool: a number of planets are now accessible enabling each one of us to become a true space traveller.


NASA World Wind offers the following built-in features:


  • Earth — The planet we live on.
  • Moon — Usually the brightest object in the night sky.
  • Venus and Mars — Our inner and outer neighbours in solar system - the "morning/evening star" and the "red planet".
  • Jupiter — The king of solar system planets.
  • SDSS — Nothing less than the universe - the sky with stars and gallaxies, from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.


  • Blue Marble — World Wind has a full copy of the Blue Marble, a spectacular true-color image of the entire Earth. Put together from data of a variety of satellites such as Terra and Aqua, the Blue Marble can be seen in all its glory at 1 km per pixel resolution. Blue Marble Next Generation is streamed from the NASA servers at 0.5 km per pixel and in 12 versions, one for each month of year.
  • Landsat — LandSat 7 is a collection of images from 1999-2003 at an impressive 15 m per pixel resolution. LandSat 7's resolution makes it possible to see your own city, neighborhood, or landmarks in your vicinity. Seeing the whole globe like this puts the world in context with scientifically accurate data. You can view LandSat imagery in visible colors or in False Color bands.
  • USGS — United States Geological Survey data. USGS provides Topography maps of whole United States down to 1:24K scale, 1-Meter detail images of most of the United States and Urban Area images of most of the major U.S. cities down to detail of .25 Meters.
  • ZoomIt is also included which includes additional areas of high resolution imagery, such as New Zealand.

Terrain Data

  • SRTM + — Combining LandSat 7 imagery with Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) Data, World Wind can display a dramatic view of the Earth at eye level. Users will literally be able to fly across the world in any direction. The data was acquired during the Feb 2000 flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour, using a short-wave radar device. It covers the whole world except near-polar regions and has horizontal resolution of 90m worldwide, 30m for the U.S. area and global bathymetry. SRTM is that, what really gives the Earth's surface the third dimension.


  • Rapid Fire MODIS — For getting near real time images from orbiting satellites with resolution down to 250 m. You can filter the MODIS data by date and by event. Data is then downloaded and displays an icon in World Wind showing what event it is and where it happened. You can zoom in to view the event.
  • WMS Browser — Web Mapping Server allows you to connect to any WMS server such as the included SVS.
  • SVS (Scientific Visualization Studio) — Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) has produced a set of visually intense animations that demonstrate a variety of subjects such as hurricane dynamics and seasonal changes across the globe. World Wind can take these animations and play them directly on the world. Anyone can immediately grasp where the event is taking place as World Wind rotates automatically into view.


It has rescued a $400 million satellite, received data from scientific packages left on the moon by Apollo astronauts, and even tracked the BIOS capsule with a monkey on board. The 40 ft (12,19 m) parabolic antenna of CSIR Satellite Applications Centre (SAC) has been providing excellent satellite support services for more than 40 years, dating back to August 1964.

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News & Events »

SALT's First Light: The Southern African Large Telescope released its first images on September 1 2005.

Above: NGC 6447
Below: 47 Tucanae
Pictures: SALT

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Space for Sustainable Development

This new publication by the National Working Group on Space Science and Technology describes the ways in which space is used in our daily lives.

Ready for Take-Off »

Minister of Science and Technology Mr Mosibudi Mangena

National space agency will bid for cutting-edge tenders

"South Africa has the skills and facilities to become a leading participant in the global space programme" (Sunday Independent, 1 May 2005)

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