- 03.10.2009: Replaced everything on the Earth/Moon page with new stuff
done using a new and greatly improved version of my planetary renderer. The old renderings
were done back in 1998 and 1999 and were awfully primitive compared to what I'm doing
today. The new ones have proper atmospheric effects, a cloud map, specular reflections
from the oceans etc. I'm not completely happy with the new renderings, the Earth is
probably the most difficult planet to render (in particular I need a better cloud map).
Also my atmospheric model is still under development. Despite this I'm replacing
everything because the old stuff really was too bad to keep it here. Now the next step is
to replace the almost 10 year old renderings of Mars with vastly improved versions with
proper atmospheric effects etc. (in fact there is a lot of old stuff here that really
needs to be replaced). Also minor updates to the links section (which really needs a major
- 11.08.2009: Added two renderings to the Saturn page showing the Cassini
spacecraft near the moment of Saturn's equinox which occurs today.
- 24.06.2009: Again no, this page isn't dead ;-). A lot of time has been
spent processing Cassini data and this update reflects this fact. I now have an almost
global digital elevation model (DEM) of Rhea. Updated the experimental renderings page
with information on this DEM of Rhea. Also added a new color and albedo map of Rhea. This
map is unusual because the goal was to show color and albedo - not topography. Finally I
added two new renderings to the Saturn page and also replaced a few old ones with new
versions. There is a lot of photogenic stuff to render in the Saturn system once I have
more and better models of its satellites - the plan is to build DEMs of all of Saturn's
- 26.07.2008: No, this page isn't dead. It's just that I've been terribly
busy processing Cassini data and other stuff - I just love being swamped in data. The
first fruit of this work now appears: An updated map of Saturn based on Cassini data. For
the southern hemisphere the improvement is big but the northern hemisphere is still based
on Voyager data since it has been largely in shadow for most of Cassini's mission.
Actually I finished this map a while ago but I recently improved it a bit. More stuff
involving the Saturn system, Io, Venus and Mercury should appear sometime in the next
several months plus a lot of experimental stuff based on DEMs (digital elevation models)
of Saturn's satellites derived from stereo images.
- 13.03.2007: Added several renderings involving Rayleigh scattering and
atmospheric refraction to the experimental renderings page. Replaced several renderings on
the Saturn page with improved versions and added two new ones. These new images are
rendered using a very high resolution map of Saturn based Cassini images that I recently
finished. The photometric parameters for Saturn and the rings have also been significantly
improved. More renderings will be replaced soon.
- 30.09.2006: Replaced all of the renderings of Venus with new versions
and added two new ones showing the Galileo and Cassini flybys. The old ones were done back
in 1999 so the new ones are a significant improvement, for example the color and contrast
is more realistic. The new renderings are the first ones at this site (except for some
experimental renderings) done with my renderer using Rayleigh scattering. Despite this I
am not completely convinced my code is working correctly in all cases. Narrow, dark areas
appear near the poles in some cases. While I can understand why they appear from the way
my renderer works they may be too prominent or should possibly not be there at all - I
don't remember seeing similar features in spacecraft photos. Now all that is left is to
replace most of the renderings of Saturn and all of the renderings of the Earth, Mercury
- 23.09.2006: Added two new renderings to the Saturn page and replaced
two of the old ones. These are the first renderings incorporating Cassini results and/or
data and should be more realistic than the old ones, especially the unlit side of the
rings. Once I have updated my Saturn texture map and improved my renderer a bit I will
replace everything on the Saturn page with improved stuff (in particular, the old
renderings showing Mimas are bad).
- 28.05.2006: Added a new rendering of Saturn to the experimental
renderings page. It shows an attempt to simulate the bluish color of Saturn's winter
hemisphere discovered by Cassini. The photometric parameters used for rendering Saturn
have also been refined based on Cassini images. In the coming months I will probably
replace almost everything on the Saturn page with something better. Minor changes to a few
- 27.03.2006: Added a new map of Jupiter based on images obtained by
NASA's Cassini spacecraft. This map is of higher resolution than my older Voyager 2 map
and it is of somewhat higher quality. Since the Cassini imaging science team released a
new map of Jupiter today it seemed appropriate for me to do so too ;-).
- 16.03.2006: Replaced four renderings on the Jupiter page with improved
versions. The new versions are rendered using my new texture map that is based on Cassini
images of Jupiter. This map is of higher resolution than my older Voyager 2 map so the
improvement is significant since these renderings include closeups of Jupiter's dynamic
- 05.02.2006: Added a rendering of Jupiter to the experimental renderings
page. It is rendered using a very high resolution map of Jupiter based on Cassini images
that I recently finished. This map is 50% bigger than my Voyager 2 map and its quality is
better. Also added renderings of Amalthea to the experimental renderings page. They are
rendered using a 3D model of Amalthea I am working on. Added two new renderings of
Amalthea to the Jupiter page and updated an old one where Amalthea is visible. These may
improve in the future since I am still working on the Amalthea model. Where Jupiter is
visible it is rendered using the new texture map. I may soon replace more renderings on
the Jupiter page thanks to the new map and software improvements. Also I am getting
unhappy with many of the renderings on the Saturn page thanks to the flood of spectacular
- 01.11.2005: Added several images of Mars to the astronomy page.
- 06.05.2005: Added three renderings of the Earth to the experimental
renderings page. They show experiments involving Rayleigh scattering in my PT3RT renderer
- experiments that are still not completely successful but they look promising.
- 21.02.2005: Added a preliminary map of Enceladus to the Cassini page.
It is based on three images from Cassini's T3 flyby.
- 12.02.2005: Added a rendering showing ringshine on Saturn's nightside
to the experimental renderings page. This looks much more realistic than rendering the
nightside either completely black or with ambient light of uniform intensity. The success
of this experiment means that soon I'll replace several renderings on the Saturn page.
- 05.02.2005: Added new page containing Cassini-related stuff, including
preliminary maps of some of the icy satellites. This is a preliminary page that should
change a lot in the coming weeks/months. Updated and rearranged stuff in the links
section. Minor updates to a few pages.
- 03.01.2005: Added an experimental Saturn ringshine map to the
experimental renderings page. This is an attempt to simulate ringshine on Saturn's
- 10.10.2004: Added a color profile to the Saturn ring profile page. It
is based on a recent Cassini spacecraft image. Updated, renamed and reorganized the
Copyright and legal stuff page and made it easier to read.
- 09.09.2004: Added some stuff to the astronomy page, including a
separate What's new page.
- 28.08.2004: Completely revamped the astronomy page and added a lot of
new stuff there. More images will be added in the coming weeks, I have a lot of stuff that
I haven't processed yet.
- 05.06.2004: It suddenly occurred to me that it might be possible to
create a fake bump/elevation map of Callisto from a grayscale texture map that would
enable me to get much better renderings of the terminator (day-night boundary) area. This
became a spectacularly successful experiment, especially in view of the fact that it took
less than 15 minutes ! As a result I have updated a few Callisto renderings on the Jupiter
page. One remaining problem is that faint seams are visible in several areas in the bump
map. I plan to fix this and update at least one of the Callisto renderings again in the
- 30.05.2004: Added several renderings to the Saturn page. They show
NASA's Cassini spacecraft near the time of the rocket burn that will slow it down,
enabling it to get captured by Saturn's gravity and start orbiting the ringed planet. More
Cassini related stuff will be added in the coming weeks/months.
- 26.04.2004: Added several renderings of Mars' Gusev crater to the
experimental renderings page. This is the landing site of NASA's Spirit rover.
- 23.04.2004: No updates recently, I've been busy moving all of my stuff
to a new computer. The old one became completely swamped with video data when I started
imaging the planets with a webcamera (see the astronomy page which BTW needs to be updated
ASAP) but now I have a 3 GHz machine with 1.5 GB of RAM and 370 GB of diskspace. However,
this is a fairly significant update, I replaced the model of Saturn's rings with a
completely new version which is of higher resolution and where the positional accuracy is
much better. Minor updates to the links section.
- 29.01.2004: Updated the spacecraft page by replacing all renderings of
the Cassini spacecraft with new ones. These show a version of my model of the spacecraft
that is very close to what the final version will look like. Colors and textures may
change a little but the 'geometric modeling' is complete.
- 01.01.2004: Added a new section, Astronomy. This section will contain
amateur astronomy stuff, mainly my observations of solar system bodies. At the moment
there's not much there except for a mosaic of the Moon and images of my telescope and
- 04.12.2003: Replaced the map of Saturn
with a vastly improved version. The old one was made back in 1998 and since then I have
developed much better methods for creating these maps. The new map is much more detailed
and has a more realistic color balance than the old one. Also a few corrections and
additions to the links section.
- 07.07.2003: Replaced many renderings on the Jupiter
page with improved versions. Specifically, the renderings where the Voyager 2 map of Jupiter was used were replaced with versions
that have a more realistic color balance (the older versions were rendered using an old
version of the Jupiter map). All renderings where the Galileo spacecraft is visible were
replaced since I recently made some improvements to the Galileo model. Finally, most of
the renderings where Io is visible were replaced with new versions and/or completely new
renderings. These new renderings are rendered using very big texture and bump maps of Io
that I am about to finish.
- 24.05.2003: Added renderings of Io's Loki area to the experimental renderings page. These renderings show attempts
to use a fictional bump map for rendering Io.
- 13.05.2003: A major update: (1) Completely replaced the Saturn page. The new page has either new
renderings or new versions of all the previous Saturn renderings. The new renderings are
far better than the old ones. They are rendered using my new PT3RT renderer which, while
far from completed, is already much better than my old renderer. Also the new texture map
of Saturn is used for all of the renderings and I'm now using a far more accurate and
detailed model of Saturn's rings, in particular the different profiles (brightness,
transparency etc.) now perfectly match each other. (2) Removed a few renderings from the Earth/Moon page since they were very old (done in 1998) and
of much lower quality than the other renderings at this site. The remaining renderings of
the Earth aren't very impressive either and will be replaced Real Soon Now. The same is
true of the Mars renderings. (3) Moved some of the news from this page to the Older news page.
- 27.04.2003: Added renderings of Io to the experimental
renderings page. They show attempts to create true color renderings of Io, an
extremely difficult object to render in correct color. Fixed the links
section, corrected some links and removed a few dead links.
- 03.03.2003: Minor update to the links section.
- 20.02.2003: Added a few new renderings of Saturn to the experimental renderings page. They are rendered in my new
renderer and illustrate the photometric behavior of Saturn's rings, including the
opposition effect. Minor update to the links section.
- 14.12.2002: Added a new map of
Jupiter based on Voyager 2 images. This map is IMO of much higher quality than
previously available maps although I'm not entirely happy with the color balance. Despite
this the color should be more accurate than in most (all ?) other maps of Jupiter I've
seen. The color of this map should also be slightly more realistic than the color of the
version used to do the renderings on the Jupiter page.
- 05.12.2002: Minor update to the links section.
- 19.10.2002: Replaced the renderings where the Voyager spacecraft are
visible (one on the Jupiter page and two on the Saturn page) with slightly improved versions. In
these new versions the parts of the spacecraft that are in shadow are faintly illuminated
by a secondary lightsource instead of being completely dark. This looks much better
although strictly speaking it is slightly less realistic.
- 16.10:2002: Replaced the title rendering at the top of this page with
an improved version. Added a few new renderings to the experimental
renderings page. I'm rewriting my planetary renderer from scratch and did these using
the new renderer. Even though this new renderer is very far from finished the experimental
renderings of Mars I'm getting are far better than my old
Mars renderings. I plan to replace them Real Soon Now and also add lots of new ones.
- 03.10.2002: Minor changes, changed the feedback
page in an attempt (probably futile) to cut down the amount of spam I receive. Also
added a EuroCAUCE logo.
- 15.08.2002: Added several new renderings of Saturn to the Saturn page. They are much more realistic than the
old Saturn renderings which are rather old, none of them is from this century ;-). The new
ones are rendered using a new and far more detailed texture map of Saturn than the old
one. It also has a more realistic color (the color in the old map was too saturated). Also
the photometric accuracy is better, especially near Saturn's bright limb. The old
renderings still on the page will eventually be replaced with improved versions.
- 09.05.2002: Added an all new map of
Neptune. This map is IMO of considerably higher quality than previously available maps
of Neptune. Cleaned up the links section by removing a few dead
links and updating others. Also added a few new ones.
- 29.03.2002: Replaced the map of
Europa with an improved version. This new version has a considerably more realistic
color and brightness than the old one but does not (yet) incorporate the higher resolution
data that has been available for some time. Updated the links section
with several links, including one to the Blue Marble
site which has big maps of the Earth.
- 31.01.2002: A minor modification to the experimental
renderings page: Added a link to a description
of my "limb darkening shading model". I use this for rendering Jupiter.
- 13.01.2002: Added renderings of Jupiter to the experimental renderings page. They are based on several
different versions of my Voyager 2 map of Jupiter. They show attempts to get Jupiter's
- 02.12.2001: A major update to the Jupiter
page: Replaced 18 out of the 34 renderings that were there with improved versions and
added 8 new ones. A few of the new/improved renderings have a size of 1024x768, the first
renderings of that size at this site. The new/updated renderings are IMO far better than
the old ones, I'm now using a huge map of Jupiter based on Voyager 2 images that I
recently finished, an improved map of Europa (more realistic color and brightness) and a
slightly improved version of my renderer. As a side-effect of this I have become rather
unhappy with a lot of old renderings at my site (in particular several renderings on the Saturn page) and plan to replace them Real Soon
Now. Minor changes to a few other pages.
- 09.08.2001: Added a mosaic of Jupiter's Great Red Spot to the Images and mosaics section.
- 29.07.2001: Added renderings of Jupiter to the experimental renderings page. These show simple atmospheric
effects like limb darkening.
- 25.07.2001: Added a new section, Images and mosaics
containing images and photomosaics of planets/satellites that get created as 'by-products'
when I am creating planetary maps. Added several POV-Ray renderings of the Galileo
spacecraft to the spacecraft page. They are
rendered using a new model of Galileo that I recently finished. Minor updates to a few
- 21.04.2001: Added several new renderings
of Neptune. These replace a crappy, old rendering which I have now removed. Replaced
one of the Mars renderings with a slightly improved
- 08.04.2001: Added a link to John Spencer's Astronomical
Visualizations pages to the links section. These pages have
information on how to render Saturn's rings in Imagine using my ring profiles. Added information on this to the planetary rendering tips section as well. Minor modifications
to a few other pages.
- 24.02.2001: Added two renderings of Jupiter to the Jupiter page. These are rendered using a very high resolution
texture map (based on Voyager 2 images) that I am working on. Fixed some links in the links section and added a few new ones.
- 30.12.2000: Finished replacing renderings on the Jupiter page with new and more realistic versions rendered
using a map of Jupiter derived from Cassini images. The
viewing geometry for some of the new renderings is slightly different from the old ones.
- 12.11.2000: Started replacing renderings showing Jupiter on the Jupiter page with new versions. These new versions are
rendered using a new map of Jupiter derived from recently released Cassini images and
are far more realistic than the old ones. Also made slight changes to the viewing geometry
for some of these renderings. Replaced a rendering on the experimental
renderings page showing Martian topography. The new version is rendered using a higher
resolution map which has now become available. It shows considerably more detail than the
old rendering did. Minor changes to a few other pages.
- 22.10.2000: Added two new renderings
of Mercury. These are the first renderings of Mercury at this site.
- 17.10.2000: Replaced the map of
Ganymede with a greatly improved version. Replaced three of the renderings of Mars with versions created using a higher
resolution texture map than the old versions. Updated the links
section. Added a rendering showing Martian topography to the experimental
- 29.06.2000: Redesigned the site, both the layout and structure. The Planetary rendering tips section at last contains something
that may be interesting after having been under construction for two years due to my
lazinesss ;-). Revised lots of outdated descriptions of my renderer and other stuff, fixed
many broken links in the links section and did many minor changes
to most of the other pages here. Replaced one rendering on the Jupiter
page with a bigger version.
- 06.06.2000: Added two new renderings of Ganymede to the Jupiter page. Updated the POV-Ray Cassini spacecraft page with new
renderings showing a far more complete (but not finished) version of the POV model than
the old renderings.
- 16.03.2000: Things have been going slowly, I have been working on eight
3D models and maps simultaneously in addition to other stuff. My old computer also got completely
swamped with 3D/planetary stuff but now I have a new one with 34 GB diskspace so
I no longer have to worry about filling up one or more disk partitions each time I receive
a small e-mail message ;-) (yes, this really happened at least once !).
This is a fairly big update: Added a new map of
Callisto; it is of considerably higher quality than the other maps here. Added two new
renderings showing Europa to the Jupiter page. Added a new
section, Spacecraft modelling in POV-Ray. This
section contains a few renderings of a POV-Ray model I'm making of NASA's Cassini spacecraft. More models are planned at
some indefinite time in the future.
- 24.10.1999: Updated the Jupiter page by
replacing all the renderings of Ganymede with new, better ones and adding some new ones as
well. These are created using a new map of Ganymede that is far better than the old one
although it's not quite finished.
- 16.10.1999: Added several new renderings of Jupiter's satellite
Callisto to the Jupiter page (and no, none of these are
spacecraft photos ;-)).
- 12.09.1999: Added a rendering of Callisto using an unfinished map I'm
working on. This rendering is at the top of the experimental
- 15.07.1999: Added a map of Venus
and a few renderings of Venus. Split one of the big
renderings pages into two pages so there is now a special
page containing renderings of the Earth and the Moon.
- 19.06.1999: Added two new renderings of the Earth using a very high resolution bump map
provided by Doug Fortune created
from public domain USGS data. Thanks to him for the
map. Minor changes to a few other pages.
- 24.05.1999: Added two new renderings of Ganymede to the Jupiter page. Added a few links to the links
section. Minor modifications to a few other pages.
- 31.03.1999: Added two new renderings of Saturn and Mimas to the Saturninan system page. Also replaced a rendering
of these two bodies on this same page with an improved version where a bump map instead of
a texture map is used for rendering Mimas. Minor updates to other pages.
- 25.03.1999: Added two renderings
of Mimas to the experimental renderings page. They
show Mimas rendered in POV-Ray using a big triangle mesh created from my Mimas bump map.
- 01.03.1999: Updated the Ganymede map
by incorporating Galileo spacecraft data released last September. This new data is near
the map's right edge. Also fixed a narrow, ugly, fuzzy area in the map's left half.
Actually in both cases I simply added sections from another greatly improved map I'm
working on so this is an "interim version" of the map. Added an experimental bump map of Mimas, one of Saturn's satellites. Updated
the links section and made minor changes to a few other pages.
Replaced some renderings showing the Earth so that all of my Earth renderings now use the
superior Face of the EarthTM texture map from ARC Science Simulations. Many thanks to them for
permission to use their map.
- 08.11.1998: Added four new renderings of the Earth. Updated the bump map section on the experimental
- 18.10.1998: Added three new renderings of Uranus and its rings to the
"Uranus section". Added a rendering of
Europa to the experimental renderings page showing an
experiment with separate red/green/blue photometric parameters.
- 01.10.1998: Updated the Europa map
with the recently released C9 data from the Galileo
spacecraft. Not a big change but the right half of the map is now somewhat more
detailed than before. Also removed a dark feature northeast of Tyre Macula, it turned out
to be spurious. Replaced one of the Europa renderings because of this.
- 08.09.1998: The biggest update so far. Added a map of Io. Replaced the Europa
map with a version where there is fictional (mostly cloned) data instead of black
areas at the poles. Added lots of stuff to the experimental
renderings page: More on bump maps, comparison of different photometric functions and
a weird rendering of Europa. Updated text in several places to reflect new features in my
renderer which even has a name (or sort of) now: The Planetary Ray Tracer.
Added a few new renderings of the Earth, Moon, Jupiter and Saturn. Minor changes to the links section, the main page and several other pages.
- 02.07.1998: Added some material to the experimental
- 24.06.1998: Reorganized the links section, and
added a few new links. Other minor modifications. Finished replacing the renderings with
- 14.06.1998: I have now added antialiasing support to my renderer,
enabling me to create considerably better renderings than before (no ugly, jagged edges).
So I'm now in the process of replacing some (and eventually all) of the renderings at this
site with antialiased versions. The biggest improvement will be in the Saturn renderings, particularly the rings. Also
added a page for experimental renderings.
- 06.06.1998: I've been asked how I colorized the Ganymede and Europa
maps so I've added some info on that. Also added a What's new page ;)
- 23.05.1998: These pages entered cyberspace for the first time.