Science On a Sphere® (SOS) is a room-sized, global display system that uses computers and video projectors to display planetary data onto a six-foot diameter sphere, analogous to a giant animated globe.
Researchers at NOAA, in collaboration with CIRES, developed Science On a Sphere® as an educational tool to help illustrate Earth System science to people of all ages. Animated images of atmospheric storms, climate change, and ocean temperature can be shown on the sphere, which is used to explain what are sometimes complex environmental processes, in a way that is simultaneously intuitive and captivating.
Science On a Sphere® extends NOAA’s educational program goals, which are designed to increase public understanding of the environment. Using NOAA’s and CIRES’ collective experience and knowledge of the Earth’s land, oceans, and atmosphere, NOAA and CIRES use Science On a Sphere® as an instrument to enhance informal educational programs in science centers, universities, and museums across the country. In addition to Science On a Sphere, researchers at NOAA and CIRES also developed a flat screen version called SOS Explorer that is available as a desktop application and a free mobile app.
Science On a Sphere® has been installed in over 185 exhibits in dozens of countries and states at some of the largest public-serving science centers and museums, including the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum in the Ocean Hall. Over 60 million people visit these institutions annually.