ESRL Global Systems Division

Science On a Sphere's® First International Installation

The National Museum of Natural Science in Taichung City, Taiwan, is now exhibiting the first international installation of NOAA's science outreach tool Science On a Sphere® (SOS). Some three million people visit the museum annually, including organized school groups for which SOS will be a major focal point. The unique display of the sphere offers onlookers a truly impressive sight; it can be seen from the lobby when the viewer stands at the top of a loft-like architecture that overlooks the floor below.

From May 7-16, a small team of Earth System Research Laboratory scientists and software engineers spent long days setting up a successful "turnkey" installation of the system. Three days worth of training was also included with hands-on instruction on basic operation of the Sphere, alignment, customizing data playlists, and content design.

In a May 22 press release, the spectacular new display was featured in one of Taiwan's largest national newspapers, the United Daily News (both in print and on the Web), as well as on public television and in local papers. The museum's Education Director clearly credited Sandy MacDonald as creator of the patented technology and NOAA as the initiating organization.

Science On a Sphere® 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 Science On a Sphere®. 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. Since its inception, SOS has been installed in 19 venues nationwide with the Taiwan display making it the 20th in total.

Science On a Sphere® maps directly to NOAA's mission goal to "Serve Society's Needs for Weather and Water Information" and its performance objective of enhancing environmental literacy and improving understanding, value, and use of weather and water information and services. This innovative technology is intended to educate multigenerational and now international audiences about ongoing NOAA research being conducted at many laboratories and to inspire students so that they might investigate scientific career paths. Over a half dozen other international installations are planned for Europe, Asia, and possibly Australia. It is estimated that over 15 million people will be seeing SOS in FY09.

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