Stunning NASA Scientific Visualization Wins First Place

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NASAVizA video treat – watch this one below in Full Screen View – This animation, called “Dynamic Earth,” won first place in the video category of the 2013 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, the winners of which were announced February 6, 2014. 

The video below is the version submitted to the 2013 Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge. For the original version, with a narration by Liam Neeson, go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hD52H7rQak

Watch Earth’s magnetic shield protect the planet from a pelting by the solar wind. See how the sun’s energy drives a remarkable planetary engine, the climate.

This video, originally created by NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio as part of a full-length planetarium film called “Dynamic Earth,” was awarded first place in the video category in the 2013 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, sponsored by the journal Science and the National Science Foundation.
While the full movie highlights many aspects of the Earth’s complexity, the contribution from the SVS depicts the vast scale of the sun’s influence on the Earth, from the flowing particles of the solar wind and the fury of coronal mass ejections to the winds and currents driven by the solar heating of the atmosphere and ocean.

The data visualization in this excerpt represents a high point in the Scientific Visualization Studio’s work in recent years to show “flows” — ocean currents, winds, the movement of glaciers. Using data from sophisticated NASA models, the studio’s visualizers have figured out how to illustrate the velocities of these natural phenomena.
Dynamic Earth, produced and written by Thomas Lucas, has been shown around the world to an estimated viewership of 500,000.

This video is public domain and can be downloaded at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?11003

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While the full movie highlights many aspects of Earth’s complexity, the contribution from the SVS depicts the vast scale of the sun’s influence on Earth, from the flowing particles of the solar wind and the fury of coronal mass ejections to the winds and currents driven by the solar heating of the atmosphere and ocean.

“Moving through these flows gives the viewer a sense of grandeur in the order and chaos exhibited by these dynamic systems,” said Horace Mitchell, director of the Scientific Visualization Studio.

The visualization represents a high point in the SVS’s work in recent years to visualize flows – ocean currents, winds, the movement of glaciers and ice sheets. By using lines and arrows to represent velocities of water, air and ice – and in the case of “Dynamic Earth,” the solar wind – the SVS visualizers were able to produce a new way to envision these unseen forces.

“Usually we visualize things like temperature in the ocean or clouds in the sky. You see these things change, but that’s not really visualizing the flow. That’s visualizing something reacting to the flow,” Mitchell said. “You can’t really see currents in the ocean. But in your mind’s eye you can picture how the currents would move as arrows or lines. And that’s what we developed.”

The winning visualization was created by SVS visualizers Greg Shirah, Tom Bridgman and Horace Mitchell, with assistance from Lori Perkins, Cindy Starr, Ernest Wright, Trent Schindler and Stuart Snodgrass. The elements of the four-minute segment were chosen in collaboration with Dynamic Earth writer and producer Thomas Lucas.

In showing the solar wind, atmospheric winds and ocean currents, the SVS relied on three modeling efforts that NASA leads or takes part in.

For the solar wind, the visualizers used data from the Community Coordinated Modeling Center at Goddard, a multi-agency partnership focused on improving our understanding of space weather.

To show Earth’s winds, the visualizers relied on data from the Modern Era Retrospective Reanalysis, an effort based at Goddard to combine more than 30 years of satellite observations and modeling into a unified data set. And for ocean currents, the visualizers used data from the ECCO-2 modeling effort, a partnership between NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston.

Mitchell credits the advancement of models such as these for allowing the data visualizers to push the boundaries of what they can create.

“They are so professional now,” Mitchell said, “that you can get these amazing effects out of them.”

To see the winning visualization, please visit:

http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a010000/a011000/a011003/index.html

To learn more about the 2013 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, please visit:

http://scim.ag/ZisChall2013 or http://www.nsf.gov/news/scivis/

 

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