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What Is the Globe Display?

The Globe display is a three-dimensional view of geospatial data capable of mapping terrain relief or other data for an entire planet viewed from space. Its underlying transformation maps latitude, longitude, and elevation to a three-dimensional Cartesian frame. All Mapping Toolbox™ projections transform latitudes and longitudes to map x- and y-coordinates. The globe function is special because it can render relative relief of elevations above, below, or on a sphere. In Earth-centered Cartesian (x,y,z) coordinates, z is not an optional elevation; rather, it is an axis in Cartesian three-space. globe is useful for geospatial applications that require three-dimensional relationships between objects to be maintained, such as when one simulates flybys, and/or views planets as they rotate.

The Globe display is based on a coordinate transformation, and is not a map projection. While it has none of the distortions inherent in planar projections, it is a three-dimensional model of a planet that cannot be displayed without distortion or in its entirety. That is, in order to render the globe in a figure window, either a perspective or orthographic transformation must be applied, both of which necessarily involve setting a viewpoint, hiding the back side and distortions of shape, scale, and angles.

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