ESRL Global Systems Division

Queen Elizabeth Views Science On a Sphere™

NASA presenters gave a very special NOAA Science On a Sphere™ (SOS) demonstration to HM Elizabeth II, Queen of England and her husband, HRH Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and other members of the Royal Family on Tuesday, May 8. The photo below was taken at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC).

Royal Family at GSFC
Queen Elizabeth II and entourage at NASA/GSFC SOS™ demo

Among other things, the Royal visitors were shown data sets including a Hurricane Katrina sequence, climate change models such as Sea Ice Change, Nighttime Lights of the Earth, and images of deep space and the planets.

The Royals showed great interest in SOS and the presentation. Prince Phillip was especially engaged, interacting with the presenters throughout, "continually peppering NASA administrator Michael Griffin with questions." Instead of leaving with her entourage, the Queen remained behind to take a better look at the sphere.

NASA's Director of Sciences and Exploration Laurie Leshin sent a letter of thanks to those who made this all come together, including our NOAA SOS team, and she shared the news that she had received a call from the British Embassy on May 8. "Josh wanted to tell me personally how much the Queen and Duke had raved about Science on a Sphere – he said it was a real highlight of their entire visit." Josh now wants to bring the whole Embassy staff to GSFC for a visit, including SOS, and the British Science Minister wants to install one at the British Museum of Natural History.

SOS is a unique visualization technology that was invented by Dr. Sandy MacDonald, Director of the Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, CO. In August of 2005 NOAA received a patent for SOS. Using computers coupled with video projectors, the system presents NOAA's global science in an engaging three-dimensional representation of the Earth's features as if they were viewed from space. It is currently being installed at museums and science centers throughout the United States.

One of NOAA's main mission goals is "Serve Society's Needs for Weather and Water Information" and its performance objective is to enhance environmental literacy and improve understanding, value, and use of weather and water information and services. Science On a Sphere™ maps directly into that goal. This innovative technology is intended to educate multigenerational audiences about ongoing NOAA research being conducted at many laboratories.

Contact information
Name: William Bendel
Tel: 303-497-6708