Science On a Sphere

Permanent Exhibit

Exhibitions are free with General Admission.


Science On a Sphere® (SOS) is a revolutionary, state-of-the-art exhibit designed by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration with content from NASA to illustrate planetary and celestial systems like never before. Stunning images from the Hubble Space Telescope, orbital satellites, space probes, and other sources are shown on this sphere during interactive presentations.

All SOS Presentations take place in the IMAS Theater and are FREE with General Admission. Doors to the IMAS Theater may be closed at times during a presentation for enhanced visitor experience, but visitors are welcome to enter at any time during public presentations. The SOS can also be reserved for guided group tours.

The IMAS was the first museum in Texas to house the SOS exhibit, opening the Science On a Sphere in September 2008, and is one of only 162 institutions across the world with SOS. This exhibit can be found at cutting edge museums including the Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugarland, The Tech Museum of Innovation (San Jose), Science Museum of Virginia, Queensland Museum in Australia, Hong Kong Maritime Museum, and Science Museum of London.

This exhibit has a catalog with over 550 datasets, including 45 real-time datasets. NOAA’s latest global models and observations from across the world can be found in the database including:

  • National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service: Most real-time datasets, GOES imagery, POES swaths
  • National Weather Service: 13 GFS model outputs, SWPC aurora model
  • Oceanic and Atmospheric Research: FV3 model, climate models, CarbonTracker, drought risk, real-time clouds
  • National Marine Fisheries Service: Loggerhead sea turtle tracks, aquaculture movie,
  • National Ocean Service: real-time coral bleaching, marine debris, e-Nav charts

Learn More: https://sos.noaa.gov/sos/history/

History of SOS

Science On a Sphere® was invented by Dr. Alexander “Sandy” MacDonald, the director of the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, CO and OAR Deputy Assistant Administrator for NOAA Research Laboratories and Cooperative Institutes.

Dr. MacDonald came up with the concept for Science On a Sphere® in 1995 as an outgrowth of other visualization projects he was directing within the former Forecast Systems Laboratory.

What is NOAA?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a federal agency focused on the condition of the oceans and the atmosphere. It plays several distinct roles within the Department of Commerce with a broad mission. Some of NOAA’s more widely-known divisions include the National Weather Service, The National Hurricane Center, and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

NOAA’s vision is to create “…an informed society that uses a comprehensive understanding of the role of the oceans, coasts and atmosphere in the global ecosystem to make the best social and economic decisions.” The mission of NOAA is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment and conserve and manage coastal and marine resources to meet our nation’s economic, social and environmental needs.