Conclusions and future work

Our general solutions to visualizing both 2D flat data and 3D vertical data in Google Earth enhance the usefulness of geospatial satellite data at GES DISC. 2D geospatial data are accessed and processed into images through standard protocols, such as OPeNDAP, OGC WMS, and directly offered to Google Earth with proper control parameters for visualization. The most important feature of the solutions is that diverse data access and processing are transparent and independent of platform, data format, and application requirements.

An innovative solution is proposed to render 3D geospatial data profiles into vertical orbit curtains by following the Collada and KML standards and visualized in Google Earth. A new curtain model for specific physical phenomena is proposed based on satellite orbit parameters. The key merit of the solution is the ability to reveal new information and knowledge that would otherwise have been hidden by visualizing and comparing diverse simultaneous geospatial data from different data resources in a unified platform – virtual globes. Successful implementations have been released online and can be accessed at the website These general solutions can be applied to most geospatial data to integrate them into Google Earth for collaborative and synergistic scientific research and applications.

In the near future, more vertical data will be overlaid on one orbit curtain to compare and visualize different physical parameters from the A-Train constellation and other satellites. Currently, vertical data profiles for different kinds of physical parameters from CloudSat, CALIPSO, AIRS, and MODIS-Aqua are transparently integrated on one orbit curtain. Each kind of implemented data product is given an online available KMZ example in Table 4. Interested readers can download and view them in Google Earth. More examples and an online access system are available at

Table 4. KMZ examples of NASA GES DISC 2D and 3D geospatial data products

2D AIRS; (combined cloud top temperature (Kelvin))
2D TRMM; (0.5 x 0.5 degree gridded monthly product comprised of mean 2A12 data and mean surface rainfall (mm))
3D MODIS/Aqua; (atmospheric temperature (Kelvin))
3D CloudSat; (cloud radar reflectivity (dBZ))
3D CALIPSO; (cloud/aerosol classification (Vertical Feature Mask))