Scientists have created the “Science on a Sphere” to view the Earth and other planets on a physical sphere. The sphere is six feet in diameter and uses a combination of computers and video projectors to cast an image onto the sphere. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has provided the satellite data for the sphere and it is used as an educational tool for science centers, museums, and universities. The datasets include not only satellite imagery, but also air movement, geological features, space and more! For a reference, various GPS overlays can be added. If you can’t make it to a museum or an institution that has a Science on a Sphere, you can download a free version called SOSx Lite. Once downloaded onto a computer, various datasets will be shown to choose from. The satellite imagery of Hurricane Sandy’s entire lifespan can be seen in a loop. The globe can be rotated to view the satellite imagery loop for the same time frame around the Earth. Other datasets include earthquakes that are projected in real time along with their magnitude. Sea Surface Currents and Temperatures is also one of the datasets and is also the image above. It’s projected in different colors according to the temperature (the scale in the top-left). The warm and cold currents as well as eddies in the currents can be visible because of the corresponding colors. Just from the image above, analysts can see that it’s June 2007 (top-right corner) and the Gulf of Mexico is warming. The warm waters from the Gulf of Mexico flow north along the East Coast. Once the current flows along the New England states, the waters start to cool and continue north-eastward towards Europe. Not just images and loops come from SOSx Lite, but also educational videos and tutorials can be viewed to explain the dataset being viewed. Find out how you can download SOSx Lite for free here!
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ⓒ 2017 Meteorologist Brandie Cantrell