NASA Debuts Unique Movie on a Sphere About Frozen Earth

Mar 18, 2009

NASA has created a unique "spherical" movie about Earth's changing ice and snow cover as captured by NASA spacecraft. "Frozen," a 12-minute, narrated film, premieres at science centers and museums March 27.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., produced the film for the "Science on a Sphere" projection system, a fully spherical video technology developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The six-foot spheres are installed in more than 30 locations around the world.

Ice covers about 20 percent of the Earth's surface and plays a major role in the world's climate. operates a sophisticated fleet of spacecraft that make global measurements of ice and snow in remote and treacherous locations not easily accessible to scientists on the ground. Data from these NASA satellites play a critical role in research.

"Frozen" probes all parts of Earth where water exists in solid form as snow or ice, known as the cryosphere. The movie takes viewers from the everyday experience of sensing heat and cold to a discussion of how satellites "see" heat and cold with advanced sensors. It then projects dramatic displays of data of Earth, including changing Arctic sea ice and global snow cover, onto the sphere. Images generated by NASA's Aqua satellite and the Landsat series are featured in "Frozen."

"With 'Frozen,' we're not only breaking new ground in terms of spherical filmmaking but also transforming an otherwise technical subject into a powerful and poetic drama about the state of Earth," said Goddard's Michael Starobin, one of the film's producers.

Science on a Sphere uses a six-foot diameter carbon fiber sphere that hangs in a dark theater surrounded by four projectors. A computer system drives video content for the projectors to create a seamless image around the sphere.

"Science on a Sphere is a powerful and exciting new medium for telling all sorts of stories," said Starobin, who also produced and directed "Footprints," NASA's first movie for the system in 2006. "Footprints" explored the origin of hurricanes, the origin of gamma ray bursts and the human imperative to ask hard questions. NASA installed its first sphere at Goddard in 2006.

NOAA originally conceived Science on a Sphere to help illustrate Earth science principles by showing planet-wide data. Museums and universities have created hundreds of data visualizations for the platform since it first debuted in NOAA facilities, providing educational opportunities for millions of visitors. However, very few fully produced, narrated movies have been developed for the system.

"Frozen" marks the next step in the evolution of spherical filmmaking," Starobin said. "It moves the technology of the craft to new levels and, more importantly, tackles a single subject and uses the unique shape of the screen to discuss that subject in new ways. For example, where a flat screen only provides a sense of the remote, obscure scale of polar regions, a spherical presentation shows just how vast these places are. It highlights global processes in an orientation that matches reality."

For more information about "Frozen," including a list of locations showing the film, visit:

Provided by JPL/NASA (news : web)

Explore further: 2014 Arctic sea ice minimum sixth lowest on record (Update)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Remarkable' Drop in Arctic Sea Ice Raises Questions

Sep 26, 2007

Melting Arctic sea ice has shrunk to a 29-year low, significantly below the minimum set in 2005, according to preliminary figures from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, part of the University of Colorado ...

NASA Launches 'Eyes on the Earth 3-D'

Mar 13, 2009

( -- New interactive features on NASA's Global Climate Change Web site give the public the opportunity to "fly along" with NASA's fleet of Earth science missions and observe Earth from a global ...

NASA embarks on cutting-edge polar exploration and research

May 30, 2007

NASA has selected 33 new scientific investigations to fund that will advance interdisciplinary studies of Earth's polar regions and the objectives of the International Polar Year (IPY). The three-year projects, supported ...

NASA, NOAA set to launch new environmental satellite

May 04, 2005

NASA is set to launch the new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (POES), another critical link in the development of a global Earth-observation program. The spa ...

Recommended for you

Study links changing winds to warming in Pacific

18 hours ago

A new study released Monday found that warming temperatures in Pacific Ocean waters off the coast of North America over the past century closely followed natural changes in the wind, not increases in greenhouse ...

NASA image: Wildfires in Khabarovsk Krai, Russia

18 hours ago

Most of the fires captured in this image burn in Khabarovsk Krai, a territory occupying the coastline of the Sea of Okhotsk. Dozens of red hotspots, accompanied by plumes of smoke mark active fires. The smoke, ...

NASA sees Tropical Depression Polo winding down

21 hours ago

Infrared satellite imagery from NASA's Aqua satellite showed only a swirl of low-level clouds some deep clouds around Polo's weakening center on Sept. 22 as the storm weakened to a depression.

User comments : 0