Submitted by , posted on 16 February 2001

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I have been working on a spherical ROAM renderer to render planet-sized objects. When the NEAR spacecraft made its brave plummet today, I began wondering if my renderer could handle a very *non*spherical object -- namely, the dog biscuit-shaped asteroid Eros.

I found an elevation map of the asteroid on this site. Eros is a very irregularly-shaped object -- its most distant point is 14 km from the center and its closest point is only 2 km! Quite an interesting thing to see if a renderer built for spherical objects could handle it.

After a few tweaks, the thing actually worked! What you are looking at is a real-time flyby of the asteroid, about 6000-7000 triangles per frame. I mapped the rock with a generic asteroid texture, and although you can't see it well in these shots the engine generates unique detail textures as you approach the surface. The thing runs about 9-25 FPS on my TNT2 (best when far away, in the first frame) but keep in mind it's written entirely in Java and I haven't finished optimizing :)

This probably isn't the best way to do LOD on an irregular object like this. But it shows that an algorithm designed for a specific purpose (ROAM and flatland) can be perverted into something completely different yet useful!

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