The Galaxy Challenge!
The Exoplanet App is a popular iPhone/iPad app that contains a database of all extrasolar planets with many interactive visualisations.
Now it's your turn to improve it! Help us create a more realistic interactive 3D model of the Milky Way. The winning programmer will receive $650.
This challenge is supported by the Royal Astronomical Society in London.
- You don't have to start from scratch.
- We provide you with a working version of the current Milky Way model over at github. This is an excellent starting point. Simply implement a better version of the URMilkyWay class.
- Make it pretty!
- Even with the most powerful telescopes we can't take a complete picture of our own Milky Way. That leaves a lot of freedom for you. Make it look visually stunning. Try adding as much detail as possible, for example opaque dust and star forming regions (HII regions). Add more details and stars as the user zooms in. Currently only point sprites are used in the model. This is clearly not enough to produce a stunning visual experience. It's up to you to come up with a better looking and faster solution. Use any kind of rendering technique that you need. Go to the limit of what the GPU can do.
- Make it realistic!
- The sparse knowledge that we have about our Milky Way has to be incoperated into the model. The model should have approximately the right number of arms, the right pitch angle and a bar in the center. Wikipedia has a fairly accurate illustration of what we think the Milky Way might look like.
- Make it fast!
- The app has to run smoothly on at least the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, original iPad, iPad 2 and the new iPad. Because the newer hardware is faster, you might want to adjust the amount of detail depending on the device. The template uses OpenGL ES 2.0 and simple shaders for the best visual effects. If you prefer to use OpenGL with a fixed pipeline, have a look at earlier commits on github. You are welcome to modify any file, not only the URMilkyWay class. Make sure the app runs on devices with normal as well as Retina displays.
- The deadline is June 23rd.
- You can either submit a short movie that shows your model in action or all files needed to compile your model. You can also file a pull request on github. Make sure that your submission compiles without errors using the most recent version of Xcode. E-mail the compressed files or a link to the movie to firstname.lastname@example.org before June 23rd 6pm EDT.
- The fine print.
- Your contribution will be acknowledged prominently on both the AppStore and within the app itself. You agree to release the source code under an open source license which allows the distribution through Apple's AppStore. The winner is selected solely by the main developer of the Exoplanet App, Hanno Rein. If no submission is deemed to satisfy the above criteria no winner will be selected and no prize will be awarded. All relevant files are needed before the prize money is paid out. If you have any further questions please contact Hanno Rein.