Rendered images of Earth
About these images
These images were created from true topography and visual color data as published by NASA.
The used color data for the land is a true visual "natural" color image map with a resolution of 2 arc minutes (1/30 degree, i.e. 4 x 4 km around the equator). The ocean is "just" a POVRay sphere with a suitable color chosen by me.
The underlaying topography information was obtained by converting and combining raw DEM topography data tiles covering the complete planet (using a self-written program). The height information has a vertical resolution of 1 meter while the horizontal grid size is 1 arc minute (1/60 degree, i.e. 2 x 2 km around the equator).
The height of these images was scaled by a factor of 30 to make the elevations visible. Consequently, the atmosphere (modeled using POVRay media involving Mie scattering and a density gradient) assumed to be 20km high was scaled by the same factor and hence appears to be 600km thick.
Altogether, more than 600Mb data were fed into POVRay-3.5 to generate these images running as a "background job" (with nice value 15) on my Linux workstation employing an AthlonXP with 1.4 GHz (and enough RAM).
Yeah, you don't need 600Mb for a 1024x768 rendering, but...
These two images show Switzerland from above at a height of 480km (left image) and 320km (right image) above sea level (that is about the flight distance of the space shuttle and the ISS). Unlike the images above, these show natural topography height (height scale 1) and were taken with a horizontal camera angle of 25°. View direction is 30° West (330°) hence you can see England at the horizon. (Hint: Switzerland stretches between the Lake of Constance (Bodensee) in the East and the Lake Geneva (Genfer See) in the West.)