Google Earth replacement

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Marble (, should fulfill your need for a free Google Earth replacement. I'm actually surprised that the editor of your high priority list wasn't aware of this application.

Some screenshots here

  • Pros: GPL, education oriented, lightwieght, snappy for simple geographic data
  • Cons: Poor 3D capabilites, poor interface, poor WMS support, no WFS support, poor terrain visualization, poor navigation, poor scalability


I just saw on your high priority list that you're looking for a Google Earth replacement. We currently develop a landscape visualization system that handles planet sized terrains, called Biosphere3D:

- It is already open source under the MPL. Up to now, no external contributions have been made, so this is negotiable.

- It is based exclusively on open source libraries.

- It sports a state-of-the-art terrain management and rendering system. Our research has been published on the EuroVis and the SimVis conference, see .

- It handles large satellite images and digital elevation models, tested up to 2TB uncompressed (27GB compressed).

- There's already basic support for GIS data (shape file overlay).

- It's available for Windows (32 and 64 bit). The build system, the libraries and most of the code is already posix compatible, but we're lacking someone with proper experience in this field.

You can have a look at some screenshots at and . The source code is available via The official project site (still somewhat empty) is .

Right now, only a single person (myself) is working on Biosphere3D, and the focus is vegetation rendering, not replacing Google Earth. However, I'd say that Biosphere3D has what it takes to become a Google Earth competitor, given that a few more people work on it. Please let me know if you're interested.

Some screenshots here

  • Pros: realistic scene rendering
  • Cons: [still] Windows only, some license compatibility issues with MPL, poor Virtual Globe capabilities, no active community, no WMS nor WFS support, no KML support

ossimPlanet is an open source project that provides an alternative to Google Earth. ossimPlanet builds on top of OSSIM and OpenSceneGraph to provide accurate 3D visualization of geospatial data sets. The project is LGPL and written in C++. The emphasis is on accuracy, collaboration through communications channel, and the ability to transform and project a wide range of geospatial formats to the planet on the fly. Basic support for KML and KMZ is in development. DTED, SRTM, and general raster elevation data sets are supported. Government and commercial geospatial formats are supported through internal file handlers and use of the GDAL plugin. Builds under gcc and is supported under Linux, Windows, and MacOSX.

Some screenshots here

  • Pros: LGPL, some KML support
  • Cons: Poor user interface, only limited WMS support, no WFS suport, poor scalability


Celestia is a c++ open source project with Linux, Windows and MaxOS support. It's oriented on visualization of planet and planetary systems, but has recently expanded to cover more GIS-oriented functionalities. visit their site

Some screenshots here

  • Pros: GPL, fast, full use of 3D
  • Cons: No KML support, no WMS nor WFS supoprt

World Wind Net

WWNet is a full featured, high-quality "open-source" 3D GIS application by NASA. It has WMS and some WFS and KML support, as well as several fueatures including a very nice user interface.

Some screenshots here

  • Pros: Very fast, full featured, professional look, MS Virtual Earth imagery (non-comercial use), very good data scalability
  • Cons: Windows only, NOSA license probably incompatible with GPL, no KML 3D objects support, no longer supported by NASA

World Wind Java SDK

WWJava is an "open source" Java-based SDK for the development of 3D GIS applications. It is under active development, and it currently supports WMS, some WFS and some KML features. It itself is not an application, thought there are several example applications with a lot of functional parts that can be easilly assembled in a working application. We could approach NASA and ask them if they are ready to release this under a dual license. MS Virtual Earth imagery (non-comercial use only), as well as [illegal] Google Earth limited support. Posibility to embed the application in a web page (Java Applets, see some of the demos below). Probably the closest thing to Google Earth in terms of capabilities right now.

Some screenshots here, Demos here

  • Pros: Multiple platform (incl. Solaris and FreeBSD), very flexible, under active development, very good data scalability
  • Cons: No real user interface, NOSA license probably incompatible with GPL, no KML 3D objects support [yet].