Since getting a DK2 in-office late last year, we’ve been very interested in picking apart the modern state of Virtual Reality. Though entertainment dominates the current wave of accessible VR platforms, we have a hunch that the broad availability of VR technology is going to be useful in many other circles as well.
6000 Moons is a modest attempt to explore the potential of VR in areas really important to us at Bin: visualization and simulation. We’re anxious to get feedback about it: comfort, compatibility, performance, and of course the potential of this style of abstract visualization. So we’re making an initial alpha release available today.
In short, 6000 Moons puts you amidst the orbits of nearly 6000 objects in the space around Earth today.1 These orbits, of both operational satellites and other debris, tell a pretty interesting story about how we use the space around Earth to learn, communicate, and more. A narrated tour provides some background on why different orbits are used, and how orbits can be designed to help satellites carry out specific goals. Then a free exploration mode will let you:
- Rotate freely to get full perspective on the extensive artificial cloud that surrounds the Earth
- Select individual satellites to learn more about their orbits and other characteristics
- Attach your viewpoint to a satellite and see the Earth from their perspective
Though we think there’s plenty more work to do, we’ve done our best to get 6000 Moons to a point where it will be a smooth experience. But this this an early Alpha release. Please report crashing issues, unexpected performance problems, or any other bugs, issues, and feeback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a partially abstract visualization, 6000 Moons doesn’t attempt to achieve presence-of-place. You are a disembodied camera looking at abstract representations of orbits, and this is intentional. We do think that immersion, even in abstraction, is a pretty powerful thing. VR, as a display and input mechanism alone, can communicate as much as it can entertain. For us, 6000 Moons does both.
We hope that 6000 Moons demonstrates something about the potential of VR as a tool for productive work. This is real data that is very hard to make sense of in most available forms. We also hope it gives a fascinating glimpse into the complex web of moons that space programs have given us over the last 60 years.
If you’re interested in reading more about what we think we’ve learned and how we’ve gone about building 6000 Moons, feel free to watch this space or subscribe. Regardless, we hope you enjoy our tour of near-Earth space.
Of course, there are almost certainly satellites whose orbits are not public information. We only visualize those with public and openly published orbital parameters.↩