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Satellite visualization tool for high-res observation accessible from anywhere with internet access

THOR-Online available for examining of Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite data remotely

A paper published in the February issue of Computers & Geosciences, describes a case study in which an earth-observing satellite tool, the Tool for High-Resolution Observation Review (THOR), using minimal coding effort, is converted into a practical web-based application, THOR-Online. In addition, a 3D visualization technique is also described in this paper.

Initially only operable from a desktop computer, with the approach outlined in the study, THOR is now accessible online from NASA's Precipitation Processing System website. This allows researchers to remotely examine the 15-year archive of Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite data. Efforts to improve THOR have been on-going since the 1997 launch of Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite, which carries first space-borne radar capable of observing detailed three-dimensional structure of regions of precipitation inside of storm clouds.

"The 3D display technique can be used to make features of, for example, a hurricane, visually accessible even to those without technical training in meteorology," explained Owen Kelley, author of the study. "The TRMM satellite observed Hurricane Sandy a day before its U.S. landfall affecting New Jersey and New York, among other states. Using this technique, TRMM 3D images of the storm's overflight and other tropical cyclones during the final months of 2012 could be made available through NASA Hurricane Resource Page ("

"Addressing an important problem at intersection of the geosciences (remote sensing, hydrology, meteorology) and computer sciences, this article is a poster child example of what we aim to publish in Computers & Geosciences," explains Jef Caers Co-Editor-in-Chief of Computers & Geosciences. "It uses modern computer science paradigms such as the World Wide Web, code re-use and practical graphical user interfaces to address an important geoscience problem."

The approach outlined in the paper may be of interest to other organizations responsible for earth-observing satellites that have custom desktop visualization tools which may need to be converted to online applications for broader usage, or that have 3D datasets that require the development of an interactive visualization tool.

The paper "Adapting an existing visualization application for browser-based deployment: A case study from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission" can be found at:

The THOR-Online application described in the study can be found at:

Notes for editors

"Adapting an existing visualization application for browser-based deployment: A case study from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission" by Owen A. Kelley, appears in the Computers & Geosciences 51 (2013) 228-237 published by Elsevier; the article is available online on ScienceDirect.

Full text of the article is available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact

About Computers & Geosciences

Computers & Geosciences publishes high impact, original research at the interface between Computer sciences and geosciences. Publications should apply modern computer science paradigms, whether computational or informatics-based, to address problems in the geosciences.

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services. The company works in partnership with the global science and health communities to publish more than 2,000 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and close to 20,000 book titles, including major reference works from Mosby and Saunders. Elsevier's online solutions include ScienceDirect, Scopus, Reaxys, ClinicalKey and Mosby's Nursing Suite, which enhance the productivity of science and health professionals, and the SciVal suite and MEDai's Pinpoint Review, which help research and health care institutions deliver better outcomes more cost-effectively.

A global business headquartered in Amsterdam, Elsevier employs 7,000 people worldwide. The company is part of Reed Elsevier Group PLC, a world-leading provider of professional information solutions in the Science, Medical, Legal and Risk and Business sectors, which is jointly owned by Reed Elsevier PLC and Reed Elsevier NV. The ticker symbols are REN (Euronext Amsterdam), REL (London Stock Exchange), RUK and ENL (New York Stock Exchange).

Media contact

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Tobias Wesselius | EurekAlert!
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