DCEFF Tours NASA Goddard

This week Festival staff learned about the complex process behind scientific visualization.

Did you know that NASA houses the largest collection of scientific storytellers in the country?

This week, the Environmental Film Festival visited NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Festival founder Flo Stone, along with Festival staff took a tour of the Washington-area campus to learn more about the process of scientific visualization.

The DCEFF team met with a few of the talented scientists, producers, visualizers and animators at the Scientific Visualization Studio and Conceptual Image Lab, who are responsible for representing all of the overwhelming data collected from NASA satellites in ways that help broaden our understanding of the earth and beyond.

 

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SVS Lead Horace Mitchell explains visualization to Festival staff.

 

“Our expertise is understanding what the data is … so that the viewer has a visceral experience,” says Horace Mitchell, head of SVS. “It’s not the case of using computer simulation to understand what’s happening in 100 years, it’s about understanding what’s happening now or what happened a 100 years ago.”

 

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SVS Lead Horace Mitchell in front of visualization of sea surface temperature.

 

In so doing, these skilled NASA employees are able to illustrate an abstract concept, like what the color of the ocean tells us about the amount of sea life or how the transport of Saharan dust by wind impacts the Amazon basin. With the launch of the premier James Webb Space Telescope scheduled for October 2018, no doubt an unprecedented amount of scientific discoveries and stories are still to come.

 

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Model of James Webb Space Telescope.

 

Take a look at more breath-taking photos from DCEFF’s tour below and be sure to explore the work of NASA’s SVS and CI Lab online. All of the animation and frames are available for public use.

 

 

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Composite of various earth visualizations representing different data.

 

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Outside CI Lab, where animators support projects across NASA disciplines.

 

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NASA employees work carefully on the Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICE Sat-2) set to launch late next year.

 

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Festival staff receive guided tour of NASA facilities.

 

 

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