Earth: A Dynamic Planet

Saturday, 14 February 2015: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Room 210AB (San Jose Convention Center)
Horace Mitchell,NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
For twenty-five years, the visualizers of the Scientific Visualization Studio at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center have brought data of the physical world to brilliant life, providing compelling visuals to scientists, the media, and the public worldwide.  For almost this entire period, the primary focus of the SVS has been to tell stories about the Earth, using data from remote-sensing satellites and computational simulations.  The need to inform the public and to do it through many channels we don’t control (the media, the web, documentaries, museums, etc.) along with the requirement that our consulting scientists be pleased with the results, has led us in some unique directions.  For example, we adapt and use the tools of the film and animation industry to do our work – which gives us the flexibility to create the best quality final products, i.e., images and animations.  This requires us to maintain a render farm, just as the animation studios do.  We tell complicated stories with multiple datasets simultaneously, because the physical world is interconnected and cause and effect are not always obvious.  We catalog all (and I do mean ALL) of our work and provide it free of charge and usage restrictions at  We delivered an average of about 30TB to 300K users per month out of a 50TB multimedia archive in 2014.  Finally, we maintain a capability to create many specialized multimedia formats and delivery venues.  We have created story delivery systems as both an app for mobile devices and as a playlist/archive system for multi-screen Hyperwalls, as well as multimedia shows for 3D theaters, planetariums, and Science-On-A-Sphere.  This talk will cover many of these topics, and will discuss the challenges of maintaining and growing such an effort without being part of a research group.