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Asteroid Discovery 1980-2020
'A remake' (old idea, new rendering pipeline)

Nice little by-product of optimizing my animation pipeline: A "remake" of Scott Manley's famous Asteroid Discovery video from 2010, in my case all the way from 1980 to today, September 14 2020, in 1080p.

  • HPC
  • animation
  • asteroids
  • astrodynamics
  • discovery
  • solar system
Video 1: The remake, 1980-2020

This video is work-in-progress. I made it for debugging and optimizing my rendering pipeline (in this particular case for solar-system-related visualizations). The underlying dataset has a lot more to show than just the when asteroids / small bodies were discovered (or first observed). This particular video is essentially a remake of a classic by Scott Manley: "Asteroid Discovery From 1980 - 2010". It allowed me to compare, debug and optimize my results.

The video shows a "top down" view onto the solar system. It is essentially a 2D view of the Earth ecliptic plane (Earth mean Ecliptic and Equinox of epoch J2000.0). The view is 8 by 14.2 AU, the Sun in the center. You can see the four inner planets throughout the video. Jupiter moves through the fame on the left and right sides of the video twice per year. One video second is equivalent to 60 real days (i.e. a 5184000x speed-up). The video is generated in two stages. In the first stage, orbital elements, roughly 200 MBytes of plain text data, are used to compute the locations of the asteroids for every video frame. For almost 1M objects, single precision floating points and 3D vectors, this results in about 200 GBytes of data (uncompressed). The second stage does the actual rendering of the images and pushes them directly to a video encoder. It is a compositing process involving different tools, which is orchestrated by my pipeline: A new tool named bewegung.

I uploaded the same video to Youtube. I am looking for ways to optimize the end-result so Youtube does not mangle it too much. Besides, improvements to the actual visualization are of cause also important. The clock in the top-right corner is an especially important element for me. I eventually want to show more stuff over time where the time matters the most. Therefore, I'd like to see if people can understand it intuitively.

Video 2: For comparison, the original video made by Scott Manley from 2010, 1980-2010

The remake was posted and discussed on reddit.

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