Footprints by NASA

The FOOTPRINTS

With the lights on, it’s just a 50-lb. ball coated with white house paint. But in the dark, Science on a Sphere represents a new way of viewing the world. Developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the technology, which uses four projectors, could initially beam only basic pictures of planets. But researchers at NASA figured out a way to use full-motion video to create a mind-bending, cinema-in-the-round experience. Their first effort is a 16-min. film, Footprints, which depicts spinning hurricanes and zooming cars.

The Earth is not flat.

That’s the conceptual spark for a new film created at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Using an advanced media projection technology called Science On a Sphere developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), FOOTPRINTS is the first fully produced film of its kind. The movie presents advanced satellite data and other visual effects on a dramatic spherical screen, affording viewers a chance to experience planets and planetary science in a way that’s more natural to their actual appearance. The Earth guest stars in a variety of guises, from depictions of the biosphere to planetary views of city lights at night to dramatic examinations about the science of hurricane formation. Other moons and planets make exciting cameos too, with special presentations of Mars and Earth’s moon. What’s more, the two agencies have announced that they’re releasing this new production to a consortium of science museums that already have Spheres on display. In ten U.S. cities this fall FOOTPRINTS will join other supporting Spheres on public exhibition.

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