We consider the problem of minimizing variational integrals defined on nonlinear Sobolev spaces of competitors taking values into the sphere. The main novelty is that the underlying energy features a non-uniformly elliptic integrand exhibiting different polynomial growth conditions and no homogeneity. We develop a few intrinsic methods aimed at proving partial regularity of minima and providing techniques for treating larger classes of similar constrained non-uniformly elliptic variational problems. To give estimates for the singular sets, we use a general family of Hausdorff type measures following the local geometry of the integrand. A suitable comparison is provided with respect to the naturally associated capacities.
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