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March 30th, 2009
NASA Debuts Unique Movie on a Sphere About Frozen Earth

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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. NASA
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 climate change 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 satellite 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:

 

http://www.nasa.gov/frozen

 

For information about the first NASA Science on a Sphere movie, "Footprints," visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/visitor/exhibits/footprints.html

 

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