Aditya MadanapalleJul 21, 2016 10:02:05 IST
Smithsonian released high resolution 3D models of the Columbia command module on the forty seventh anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landings. The 3D models are the interior and exterior scans of the crew's living quarters during the mission. This is one of the most high resolution scans ever taken of a historical artefact, and allows students and researchers to look inside the spacecraft. This is not possible even for those who visit the physical Columbia module in Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
Smithsonian tied up with Autodesk to take the high resolution scans, and create the master 3D model. The highly reflective surfaces in the interior, the numerous switches, and the small details on the dials made this scan very challenging. The scans had to be collated from various scanners, and custom 3D scanning equipment, as well as software was required to create the master model. Autodesk also created a browser based viewing tool, that could allow Smithsonian curators to showcase the interiors and exteriors through a browser. The models can be viewed and downloaded at 3d.si.edu.
The 3D models can be used for a number of applications. Anyone can download the models for free, and import them on 3D rendering software. These can be used to create visualisations or animations. The models can also be used with virtual reality gear, for an immersive and educational experience. Raw data is available of some of the scans, which are in the state of least interpretation. The raw data is made available to encourage creative and original uses of the data sets. High resolution photo realistic scans of the interior will soon be made available on the same page. There are versions available of the pilot seat, the control panel knobs, the control panel, and the whole Columbia spacecraft itself, ready for 3D printing.
The Columbia spacecraft module was one of the most technically challenging 3D scans to be made available online. However, Smithsonian has been releasing a steady stream of high resolution 3D scans of artifacts from its collection that can be used in animations, virtual reality or 3D printing.
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