Science On a Sphere

Science On a Sphere (SOS) is a three dimensional visualization tool that uses computers and video projectors to display animated data on a six foot diameter spherical projection screen. SOS was developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and it is primarily used as an educational tool to show planetary data. NOAA has developed imagery for geophysical, atmospheric, and oceanic data, simulation models, weather forecasts, and extraterrestrial bodies such as Mars, Venus, and the Sun.

The projection system consists of four projectors, four auxiliary computers, and one central computer. The projectors display the images on the sphere, and each one is managed by an auxiliary computer. The central computer controls and synchronizes the operations of the other four computers, and it is responsible for rendering images uploaded by users.

The subject matter of the display material is essentially unlimited. Currently, I am working with the Shenandoah Air Quality Initiative (SHENAIR) to develop a tropospheric (ground level) ozone dataset for the SOS system that JMU recently purchased. The dataset will show the daily peak Air Quality Index (AQI) values for ozone in the United States from May 9th, 2002 to December 31st, 2006. JMU is the first university to acquire such a system, and my project is the first student project.

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