21ST CENTURY TOOLS: SCIENCE ON A SPHERE FOR CLIMATE AND COMPARATIVE PLANETOLOGY EDUCATION
Science On a Sphere (SOS) is a six foot diameter sphere onto which digital, spherical datasets can be projected and manipulated in real time. Among the advantages of SOS over flat maps include its natural way of representing spherical geospatial information, and the ability to show animated time series of global phenomena. These aspects allow visitors to literally gain a new perspective and get a comprehensive view of global systems.
In February 2010, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science installed an SOS with the help of a 5-year NASA CP4SMP grant. We have developed several live geoscience programs using raw data from scientific missions, along with a comprehensive program delivery plan. These include “A Tale of Three Planets,” a comparative planetology show designed to help the general public understand how climate works by looking at Earth, Venus, and Mars. Since all three started out with similar atmospheric conditions and diverged over billions of years, understanding what happened on Venus and Mars gives scientists insight as to what may or may not happen with Earth’s climate.
In the 21st century, due to ubiquitous technology, museum visitors understand the world differently than ever before. In order to continue advancing an understanding of geoscience with the general public we must use 21st century tools. SOS is one of those tools that we have chosen to use at DMNS.