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A 67-million-pixel floating Matterhorn at the Gasometer in Oberhausen, Germany

View of the exhibition „The Call of the Mountains“. Photo: DLR

The exhibition „The Call of the Mountains“ shows the scope of Earth observation

At 4478 meters tall, the Matterhorn is not one of Earth’s highest mountains – not even the highest mountain in the Alps. However, its striking triangular shape makes it unique. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has measured this ‚rock pyramid’ with the help of satellite and aircraft overflights and, from the data, generated a precise terrain model that now brings the mountain to Gasometer Oberhausen as a 3D projection on a 17-metre-high reproduction of the Matterhorn.

There, it floats upside down in the 100-metre-high airspace of the Gasometer as the highlight of the exhibition „The Call of the Mountains“ until December 30, 2018. A mirror on the floor reflects the mountain, enabling a bird’s eye view.

Just under 3000 images provided the foundation to construct the animation, which was done by the scientists at DLR’s Earth Observation Center (EOC). Scientists combined the acquired elevation data and textures into a likeness of the Matterhorn. They then had hundreds of virtual cameras circle the mountain to produce 3D animations that brought the sculpture to life. At 67 million pixels, the resolution of the animation is eight times that of a high-resolution film production.

Emergency support workers, city planning authorities, climate researchers and also archaeologists are the usual beneficiaries of Earth observation. Data from space can be used for numerous applications – among others it can be employed to record ground movement with millimeter accuracy, investigate the quality of water, or estimate glacier masses.

„On the projection surface we show the Matterhorn with the progression of days and seasons, the ascent routes that mountaineers have opened up over the course of 150 years, and the extreme topography of the mountain,“ explains Nils Sparwasser of DLR’s Earth Observation Center.

The Gasometer in Oberhausen. Photo: Gasometer

With this elaborate animation, 17 projectors display the details on the 2033 square meter surface of the Matterhorn reproduction.

But the exhibition does not only present the Matterhorn. In unique film excerpts and photographs, it shows habitats at ice-cold altitudes with thin air, helps visitors appreciate the legendary first ascents, and reports about triumphs and failures. „In ‚The Call of the Mountains’ we describe wonderful locations that have always fascinated mankind,“ says Peter Pachnicke, curator of the exhibition.

The Call of the Mountains“, until December 30, 2018, Gasometer Oberhausen

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(22.03.2018, USA: 03.22.2018)