20 years, 200 spheres: NOAA celebrates the 200th Science On a Sphere

On February 9, 2024, The Scientific Center, Kuwait, became the home of the 200th NOAA Science On a Sphere®.

Two men stand in front of a Science On a Sphere globe that displays a world map and the word ‘congratulations’. The globe hangs in an unfinished museum gallery, with parts and boxes on the floor around the site.

Staff from BWC Visual Technology, a distributor for Science On a Sphere, pose with the 200th Science On a Sphere at The Scientific Center, Kuwait, where it will be part of a brand new gallery. (Image credit: John Marciniak, BWC Visual Technology)

NOAA Science On a Sphere is a room-sized global display that allows visitors to see planetary data visualizations as they were meant to be viewed — on a sphere! Invented by NOAA, the system uses computers and video projectors to seamlessly display more than 500 datasets in the SOS data catalog.

The SOS program reached this milestone 20 years after the first public installation in 2004. To date, SOS has been installed in 28 countries and 34 U.S. states, and there are currently 183 active installations at science centers, universities, and museums.

“It’s exciting to see that after 20 years, Science On a Sphere is still a premiere exhibit that sites are excited to incorporate into their galleries,” said Beth Russell Wehe, senior program coordinator for Science On a Sphere. “Even with 200 installations, we’ve found that every site finds their own unique way to tailor their SOS use to meet their needs. We look forward to seeing the new ways that The Scientific Center, Kuwait, uses their SOS.”

To see SOS in person, you can find a location near you. In addition to the room-sized sphere, the SOS team has developed Science On a Sphere Explorer (SOSx) for mobile and desktop. Download the app to start exploring!