Dynamic Earth Excerpt and Visuals

Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) Reaches Earth

A coronal mass ejection (CME) reaches Earth as solar particles are deflected away by the planet’s magnetic field in this NASA-created image, a still capture from a 4-minute excerpt of “Dynamic Earth: Exploring Earth’s Climate Engine,” a fulldome, high-resolution movie playing at planetariums around the world. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Enjoy an excerpt from the full-length “Dynamic Earth” presentation, which explores the inner workings of Earth’s climate system with visualizations based on satellite monitoring data and advanced supercomputer simulations.

The computer visualization is titled “Coronal Mass Ejection and Ocean/Wind Circulation.” It was also published on June 19 as the 100th story for the award-winning NASA Viz iPad application.

The Association for Computer Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques is known as SIGGRAPH and is widely considered the most prestigious forum of its kind.

Watch this NASA animation as it shows a coronal mass ejection from the sun pelting Venus, and then zooms in for a close-up view of Earth’s winds and ocean currents. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

“Major Hollywood studios submit pieces, so there is a high standard,” says Joshua Grow, SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival Chair, Los Angeles. “Clearly NASA has exceeded that standard with their submission.”

The full-length “Dynamic Earth” presentation is narrated by actor Liam Neeson and illustrates how equilibrium between Earth’s climatic systems sustains life and what could happen if the balance is tipped.

The immersive 24-minute, ultra-high resolution, full-dome show is a joint production of NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio (SVS) in Greenbelt, Md., Spitz Creative Media in Chadds Ford, Pa., the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Ill., the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Colo., and Thomas Lucas Productions in Ossining, N.Y.

Lucas, who wrote, directed and co-produced “Dynamic Earth,” says that he’s proud that nearly all the visualizations are based on real-world data.

“The NASA SVS team is doing pioneering work in visualizing both simulation and satellite data,” Lucas says. “In the process, they are delivering special insights into the way our Earth works and how it’s now changing.”

The excerpt accepted by SIGGRAPH shows how uneven heating from the sun drives the air and ocean currents that produce the Earth’s climate.

In the animation, a giant explosion of magnetic energy from the sun, called a coronal mass ejection, slams into and is deflected by the Earth’s powerful magnetic field. The sun also continually sends out streams of light and radiation energy. Earth’s atmosphere acts like a shield, blocking quite a bit of this energy.

Much of what makes it through is reflected back into space by clouds, ice, and snow. The energy that remains helps to drive the Earth system, powering a remarkable planetary engine — the climate. It becomes the energy that feeds swirling wind and ocean currents as cold air and surface waters move toward the equator and warm air and water moves toward the poles — all in an attempt to equalize temperatures around the world.

“‘Dynamic Earth,’ the show is also going around the world,” says Horace Mitchell of NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio (SVS). “It’s currently being dubbed into Spanish, Arabic, Turkish, and Greek.”

The show is now playing at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., at the Museum of Science and History in Jacksonville, Fla., and will launch at the Museum of Science, Boston, Mass., this summer. The show has also been licensed to more than 20 schools, museums, and other locations.

The 2012 SIGGRAPH conference and exhibition takes place from August 5 to 9, 2012 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The “Dynamic Earth” excerpt will be one of only 31 presentations featured in its “Electronic Theatre” during the Computer Animation Festival.

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