EGU Blogs

The coolest way to visualise how planets work

The coolest way to visualise how planets work

It’s not always easy visualising the complex processes which operate on planet Earth. Even more difficult, at least for me, is explaining them to others. That’s why I’m always on the look out for tools that might just help me with that and which I can share with others too. Enter the NASA Visualisation Explorer, and the Scientific Visualization Studio (SVS), which I came across recently.

The first of the two is a cool little app which can you get straight on your mobile device. You can keep up with all of NASA’s most recent findings and search for animations, visualisations and images of the Earth and Sun. I’ve unashamedly taken from the page intro here, but I think it does a great job of explaining what the site aims to do:

“The NASA Visualization Explorer the coolest way to get stories about NASA’s exploration of the Earth, sun, moon, planets and universe.”

Next up, the SVS: If you ask me, a great communication tool, packed with more images, animations and visualisations, which are created by the SVS in collaboration with researchers and scientists. You could literally spend hours exploring the content on the site. The best bit? All the visualisations (of which there are more than 5,500) are free to download!

To showcase just one example of what you can look forward to on the site (just a warning, you could spend hours exploring the content!), I’ve downloaded one of my current favourites: a video showing solar wind hitting Mars’ magnetic field. The video, is part of a series of resources associated with the recent discoveries by the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission about how Mars lost it’s atmosphere.

MAVEN has been able to determine that solar wind – a stream of particles, mainly protons and electrons, flowing from the sun’s atmosphere at a speed of about one million miles per hour – stripped the red planet of it’s atmosphere. The findings have huge implications about how crucial it is that the Earth has sustained its magnetic field throughout its lifetime -something which I’ve written about before (and is closely related to my PhD, so I was v. excited about these recent findings).

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Laura Roberts Artal is the Outreach and Dissemination Manager at The Water Innovation Hub (University of Sheffield). Laura also volunteers as the Associate Director of Communications for Geology for Global Development. She has also held a role in industry as Marketing Manager for PDS Ava (part of PDS Group). Laura was the Communications Officer at the European Geosciences Union from the summer of 2014 to the end of 2017. Laura is a geologist by training and holds a PhD in palaeomagnetism from the University of Liverpool. She tweets at @LauRob85.