NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) Global Systems Division (GSD) and NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center are teaming up to bring Science On a Sphere® (SOS) to the Center Green Campus at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) as part of Boulder, Colorado’s annual Space Weather Workshop during the week of April 13 - 17. In addition to offering special presentations to international space weather professionals, throughout the week UCAR will be presenting the traveling SOS to their employees and students from three local Boulder Valley School District schools.
The Space Weather Workshop is an annual conference that brings industry, academia, and government agencies together in a lively dialog about space weather. What began in 1996 as a conference for the space weather user community has evolved into the Nation's leading conference on all issues relating to space weather. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of daily space weather forecasting. To commemorate this important milestone, the Space Weather Workshop will feature a special evening event on Wednesday, April 15th for SOS, as well as a special SOS presentation by ESRL Director Dr. Alexander (Sandy) MacDonald.
Science On a Sphere® is a large visualization system that uses computers and video projectors to display animated data on the outside of a sphere. SOS was invented by Dr. MacDonald in 1995 when he came up with the concept—using a beach ball painted white and a 35mm slide projector—as an extension of other visualization projects that he was directing at the former Forecast Systems Laboratory. Since that time, SOS has become an important part of educational programs in 116 museums and science centers in 21 countries.
Audiences around the world express excitement when they first see the rare view of the planet provided by an SOS presentation. As visualized on SOS, the Earth isn't sliced and spread out as it is on a flat map, and it doesn't have rods poking through the poles as on a globe. Instead, SOS displays a dynamic, high-resolution view of Earth and other spherical bodies in our solar system that replicates what can be seen or sensed from satellites or modeled by supercomputers.
Researchers at NOAA ESRL continue to develop and advance SOS as an educational tool to help illustrate Earth system science to people of all ages. Animated images of atmospheric storms, climate change, and ocean temperature can be shown on the sphere, illustrating complex environmental processes in a way that is both intuitive and captivating. Using an iPad app, SOS presenters can easily display, annotate, zoom, and layer the more than 450 data sets that are available for SOS.
The SOS Program is administratively managed and technically supported by ESRL's GSD/Advanced Technology and Outreach Branch.
SOS is a NOAA ESRL program that has developed a revolutionary system for educating the public about the holistic nature of Earth's ever-changing oceans, atmosphere, and land, as well as other planets. NOAA's global science is presented on SOS as engaging three-dimensional representations of Earth and other planets, as viewed from outer space.
Through informal educational programs in science centers, universities, and museums across the country and around the world, SOS extends NOAA's educational program goals by increasing the public’s understanding of our environment, Earth's land, oceans, and atmosphere, and other bodies in our solar system.