Software for planetary & space science

Aalto Virtual Planetarium

The Aalto Virtual Planetarium is a tour of the inner Solar System, with the grand structures of planetary magnetospheres show through the eyes of a space physicist. Aimed at education and outreach, the immersive virtual reality experience demonstrates Aalto space research, including the plasma physics of the Sun, magnetosphere of inner planets, the Finland100 satellite and cometary environments. Complex structures and spatial scales of magnetospheric physics are intuitively presented, with plans for research tools of 3D simulation data based on the system.

Contact point & developer: Markku Alho,

A public version of the software (executable package for Windows 10 and SteamVR) is available here:

Creative Commons License
Aalto Virtual Planetarium by Markku Alho/Aalto University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

The work contains material from multiple sources, listed below.

Funded in part by the Suomi100 satellite project, the demonstrator has been used to demonstrate the capabilities of the jubilee satellite, see the the Suomi100 satellite site, including the following Tiedetuubi short (in Finnish):

Credits, acknowledgements and sources

Developed by

M.Sc. Markku Alho
Aalto University

Built on Unity


Solar dynamo simulations
Maarit & Petri Käpylä
Aalto University & Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung

Mercury, magnetosphere
Riku Järvinen
Aalto University
Visualization: Riku Järvinen & Markku Alho
Hybrid description, cloud-in-cell code RHybrid.

Venus, magnetosphere
Markku Alho
Aalto University
Hybrid description, cloud-in-cell code MULTI.

Earth, magnetosphere
Antti Lakka
Aalto University
Simulation performed with GUMICS-4 at Aalto University. The original GUMICS-4 simulation code is by Pekka Janhunen, Finnish Meteorological Institute

Earth, Radio signal propagation
Mathias Fontell
Aalto University
Simulation performed with a novel raytracer code by Mathias Fontell.

Comet 67P, magnetosphere
Cyril Simon Wedlund
Aalto University
Hybrid description, cloud-in-cell code MULTI.

Esa Kallio
Aalto University
Space plasma simulation platform

Spacecraft and models

Suomi100 - Finland 100
Aalto University.
Thanks to Arno Alho for the spacecraft model and Petri Koskimaa for input.

ESA/Rosetta probe
Eyes on the Solar System. NASA/JPL-Caltech.


Starmap and constellations
NASA Deep Star Maps. Public domain.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio. Constellation figures based on those developed for the IAU by Alan MacRobert of Sky and Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg).

Sun global 304Å 81-day video
STEREO and SDO composite at 304Å wavelength.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio, de-flickering by M. Alho.

Mercury: Global satellite imagery
NASA MESSENGER, global mosaic at 500m resolution, 2013. Public domain.

Venus: Global satellite imagery
Clouds based on NASA Mariner 10 imagery. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Surface pseudocolor from NASA MAGELLAN radio measurements. Public domain.

Earth: Global satellite imagery
NASA Visible Earth, Blue Marble & Blue Marble Next Generation. Public domain.
R. Stöckli, E. Vermote, N. Saleous, R. Simmon and D. Herring (2005). The Blue Marble Next Generation - A true color earth dataset including seasonal dynamics from MODIS. Published by the NASA Earth Observatory. Corresponding author:

Earth: Regional satellite imagery - Croatia
ESA Sentinel-2 via Sentinel Hub EO Browser. CC-BY 4.0.

Mars: Global satellite imagery
NASA AMES/PDS, Viking MDIM2.1 Colorized Global Mosaic

Comet 67P: Global imagery and model
Model and textures derived by the OSIRIS team at Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung, adapted for the demonstrator.
Imagery by ESA/Rosetta, CC-BY-SA 4.0.

Radio data

Space Audio recordings
Original space audio recordings provided courtesy of NASA and Donald Gurnett of The University of Iowa. CC-BY 3.0.

Background hiss
Esa Kallio, 7 m antenna radio background.

Background music
solar fractal by Quarkstar (c) copyright 2018, CC BY 3.0