September 7, 2012

Video of the Week: NASA’s Perpetual Ocean Proves Data can be Art

by Christine Hoekenga

Video courtesy: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Who says data have to come in a dry table? The scientists and animators at NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio (SVS) have made a career out of doing just the opposite. Using some of the same software tools employed by Pixar, they create images and animations that bring data sets to life and make them easier to understand–for both the public and the scientific community. Our video of the week, Perpetual Ocean, is one artful example of their work that recently became popular on social media. By synthesizing a numerical model and a slew of different types of data collected between 2005 and 2007, the SVS team has created a beautiful visualization of the “swirling flows of tens of thousands of ocean currents.”

Enjoy.  Happy Friday.

Read a Q&A with Dr. Horace Mitchell, Director of NASA Scientific Visualization Studio from Mashable

Learn how the process of visualizing data can help scientists interpret it more easily in our module Data: Using Graphs and Visual Data

Christine Hoekenga

Written by

Christine is a freelance writer, editor, and content strategist, specializing in science and nature. She holds an Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science and Media Studies and a Master's of Science Writing. She has been working in science communication and education for nearly a decade as a journalist, an organizer for conservation groups, and a museum educator. Before joining the Visionlearning team, she served as the New Media and Online Community Manager for the Webby award-winning Smithsonian Ocean Portal. Christine is assisting Visionlearning with developing new modules and glossary terms, managing the blog, and outreach through social media.