Saturday, September 29, 2012

Modeling Earth's Atmosphere

In order to realistically simulate the appearance of the sky, I need an accurate model of the composition of the Earth's atmosphere. To this end, I implemented the U.S. Standard Atmosphere 1976, using the original paper from NASA, NOAA, and the USAF. I could have used a simple exponential density falloff, but that wouldn't have been as accurate, or as interesting to implement. I also could have used an existing implementation of the U.S. Standard Atmosphere, but I wouldn't have learned as much from that, and it wouldn't have been very fun.

The U.S. Standard Atmosphere uses SI units, and I converted to SI any values that were provided in other units. I also had to spot a few errors in the paper, where incorrect values were provided. It's fun working on a project that uses real-world units and measurements. Not just fun—it's also necessary to achieve the correct results.

Image found on Wikimedia Commons

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