Solar Atlas

Global Nominee

Solar Atlas received a Global Nomination.

People's Choice Nominee

Solar Atlas received a People's Choice Nomination.

Solar System

Create a custom world map generator module using a gaming framework or engine of your choice that leverages altimeter, terrain and imagery data to render realistic worlds.  This will involve the use of a World Map Tile Service client to leverage over 1 TB of Mars and Vesta data for use in world generation.


Solar Atlas


Solar Atlas is a first person accurate 3D simulation of Mars. This is a great way for NASA to plan missions and discover useful terrain for projects. Solar Atlas also contains the architecture to explore other celestial bodies given their altimeter data. This could also be used in educating students about the true surface of planets and planetoids

How it works

Mars Trek MOLA data images were turned into heights using the legend provided. White and lighter points were high points on the surface, whereas dark areas represented craters and the shallowest parts of the planet. We obtained the data for the highest peak of Mars to estimate the height of each appropriate pixel and used Unity's terrain engine to build the surface. As terrain is needed, Solar Atlas requests images from the Trek API to simulate the terrain.


Our Mars demo was run on a reduced scale and features the built code in the github repository. The user is dropped into one of the craters found on Mars to explore. Also, gravity, scale, and several other settings can be adjusted in Unity3D and Visual Studio.

Working Features
  • Mars terrain using Trek API altimeter data
  • User friendly interface
  • Realistic surface
  • Adjustable scale
  • Instant travel map

Open source and non-proprietary

Resources Used
Made inIrvine, CA USA
from the minds of
How they did it