NOAA 2006-080
Contact: Kent Laborde
NOAA News Releases 2006
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today that it was providing funding to three institutions for future installation of NOAA’s Science On A Sphere 3-D visualization system. These awards will support the creation of educational displays for the Science On A Sphere system coupled with NOAA visual datasets at the Orlando Science Center in Orlando, Fla.; the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, Colo.; and the McWane Science Center in Birmingham, Ala. These new awards bring the growing network of institutions displaying NOAA’s Science On A Sphere to nine.

Science On A Sphere is a 68 inch-diameter globe designed by NOAA to show animated, active graphical details of a planet or moon in our solar system. This technology provides public science centers with the ability to visualize real data and models to teach children and adults about dynamic Earth processes. With daily updated satellite images, the system allows visitors to visualize current global weather patterns in this distinctive format. Science On A Sphere also provides software and more than 100 visualization datasets for use by the institutions that successfully competed for this award. As NOAA and the Science On A Sphere user community develop new visualizations using global Earth data, NOAA will make them available to all other Science On A Sphere users.

“This application of NOAA expertise and data provides science centers and museums with a profound and powerful way to teach the public about our dynamic planet,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “These science centers will have access to the most recent and cutting-edge data about the Earth that NOAA collects.”

All awards total nearly $200,000, and will help educate an estimated one-half million people who visit the recipient facilities annually. At the Orlando Science Center, Science On A Sphere will serve as the visualization component of the upcoming Global Decision Room exhibit. At the Fiske Planetarium, the grant will fund a docent program for Science On A Sphere involving Hispanic university and high school students. At the McWane Science Center, the grant will provide an installation of Science On A Sphere featuring an interactive kiosk that will allow users to view any available dataset upon request.

There are currently six institutions with active Science On A Sphere installations funded by NOAA’s Office of Education: Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii; Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, Calif.; Maryland Science Center in Baltimore, Md.; Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul, Minn.; The National Maritime Center at Nauticus in Norfolk, Va.; and Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary near Alpena, Mich.

In 2007 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.