A new snowboarding video game features mountain courses built using detailed topographical data from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite, a process described in a report on the tech website Ars Technica.
The data from ASTER, a cooperative effort between NASA and Japan’s Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, provided EA Sports with a free, complete, easy-to-convert map of the best snowboarding runs nature had to offer for the game SSX, the report said.
Todd Batty, producer and creative director at EA Sports, said the game’s developers were struggling to create convincing-looking mountains when one team member pointed out the ASTER website. “He was like, ‘Name any mountain on Earth,’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know, Mount Everest,’” Batty said. “So he goes on Wikipedia, gets the latitude and longitude coordinates … and in about 28 seconds, delivered a 3D model of Mount Everest and all the surrounding mountains in that grid from the data. He’s like, ‘If you give me a couple of days we can take it for a ride. … We thought, ‘Wow, are we done?’”