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What is SOS?

NOAA's Science On a Sphere® (SOS) is a room sized, global display system that uses computers and video projectors to display planetary data onto a six foot diameter sphere, analogous to a giant animated globe.

Researchers at NOAA developed Science On a Sphere® as an educational tool to help illustrate Earth System science to people of all ages. Animated images of atmospheric storms, climate change, and ocean temperature can be shown on the sphere, which is used to explain what are sometimes complex environmental processes, in a way that is simultaneously intuitive and captivating.

Science On a Sphere® extends NOAA’s educational program goals, which are designed to increase public understanding of the environment. Using NOAA’s collective experience and knowledge of the Earth’s land, oceans, and atmosphere, NOAA uses Science On a Sphere® as an instrument to enhance informal educational programs in science centers, universities, and museums across the country. Science On a Sphere® is available to any institution and is currently in operation at a number of facilities in the US.

NOAA’s Science On a Sphere® has been installed in 195 exhibits in 27 countries and 34 states at some of the largest public-serving science centers and museums, including Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum in the Ocean Hall. Over 60 million people visit these institutions annually.

About SOS

Learn more about Science On a Sphere®. Read about the available features and supporting material.

History of SOS

Learn about NOAA and the creation of Science On a Sphere® by Dr. Sandy MacDonald at the Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, CO.

Getting SOS

Detailed instructions for the process to purchase and install Science On a Sphere®.


Science On a Sphere® is installed at over 170 sites worldwide. Find one near you!

SOS Showcase

Highlights from Science On a Sphere® installations around the world.

Video Gallery

A collection of videos relating to Science On a Sphere®