WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Call it an astronaut-eye's view of Earth. "Science on a Sphere" gives a realistic, 3-D view of the whole planet, using a sophisticated four-screen projector system.
The projectors are integrated seamlessly to create a unique and interactive experience. Beth Russell, the Operations Manager for the Sphere, says, "Being able to see atmospheric circulation here and see how it's circling the poles, it's not something you can get on a flat screen. So seeing a global process makes it a little easier to understand".
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, showed off this cool tool at the Internet 2 annual meeting in Crystal City. The technology allows for the most realistic view of the Earth possible. Satellites provide the data that's projected onto the screen. The sphere stays in place, but the view can be tilted and rotated in any direction.
Science on a Sphere is loaded with about 400 programs, each of them showing different world perspectives. A fascinating animation shows Hurricane Sandy as she moved up the East Coast and turned into a super storm. There are other animations showing atmospheric wave patterns, views of the Earth at night, even the depth of the ocean floor.
Science on a Sphere was created for the non-scientist, to show how we're all connected, no matter what part of the planet we live on. Russell says, "One of the goals of NOAA is stewardship. So if people better understand the earth's processes and figure out how to better protect and preserve our planet, then we're doing our job with Science on a Sphere".
There are nearly 100 of these spheres all over the world, and one of them happens to be a permanent resident at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum.