NASA Makes Earth’s Oceans Look like Van Gogh’s Starry Night

Gulf Stream. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

This incredible visualization of the Earth and its oceans was created by the Scientific Visualization Studio at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. It’s called Perpetual Ocean and allows the visualization of the surface of the oceans over a 30-month period, between June 2005 and December 2007.

The animation was created using NASA and JPL’s high-resolution computational model Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, Phase II (ECCO2) of the Earth’s oceans, which is normally used to run simulations to predict the changes in the currents of the oceans. In order to create these swirling patterns, the results were somewhat exaggerated. This is the reason why it looks like the wind in Van Gogh’s famous The Starry Night.

Currents near Southern Africa. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

ECCO2 simulates ocean flows at all depths, but only the surface flows were used in this visualization. ECCO2 allows for increasingly accurate resolutions that begin around ocean eddies and narrow-current systems that transport heat and carbon in the oceans. The dark patterns represent undersea bathymetry.

Kuroshio Current. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

NASA states that topographical and land exaggeration was at 20 times normal, while bathymetric exaggeration was at 40 times normal. The video can be watched directly below.

AnimationBathymetryECCO2JPLNASAOceanographyPopularThe Starry NightUnderseaVang Gogh
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  • Moon Yong. Jung

    Dear the copyrighter. Hi! I’m Mr. Jung and a school teacher in Korea(South Korea). I sent email several weeks ago, but I didn’t get the reply. I wanted to use the picture materials on the following site(source) in connection with the development of students’ educational materials. Can I use pictures? I’ll beg your permission, please. I will not use it for commercial purposes, and I will reveal the source. I’ll wait for your permission reply. Thank you very much. ^0^


    • Staff

      Yes, you can use the images from this post.

      • Moon Yong. Jung

        Thank you very much… ^0^