NASA Visualization Explorer (NASA Viz) is an intuitive, interactive iOS application (app) that delivers science stories with multimedia content linking high-quality explorable images, descriptive text, visualizations, videos, and interviews with a fresh look and feel. NASA Viz aims to excite a wide audience about Goddard’s research, science efforts, and talent, and educate the audience about NASA science in an informal, highly visual environment.

The functional operation of the NASA Viz app has two main components. On the software side, the application fetches content from the SVS (Scientific Visualization Studio) database and displays it on an iOS device (iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch) in a pre-designed format. On the user side, the application enables gesture-based interaction with the content. For example, the user can browse the content with swiping and tapping gestures. In addition, a whole set of features has been implemented to provide custom experience to the user base community, such as marking stories as favorites, creating playlists of stories, saving stories for offline use, and sharing stories via social media.

Since the app’s launch on July, 26, 2011, it has received more than 1 million unique downloads, it continuously ranks as the #1 Earth science app in the iTunes Education Store, and has been reviewed and featured in tech blogs and news Websites. To date (08/05/14), 316 stories have been published. The collection of stories highlight findings from all four NASA science themes — Earth, Heliophysics, Planetary, Astrophysics — and includes contributions from Science@NASA, NASA Earth Observatory, and NASA’s science mission outreach teams. Upon its release, the app has been popular in classroom use by teachers and students. For this reason, the NASA Viz team is collaborating closely with the NASA Office of Education to improve and expand its capabilities for educational purposes.

The novel feature of the NASA Viz app is the ability to deliver the multimedia content on iOS devices in a touch-based interface. The NASA Viz application is a free formal NASA application delivered via the iTunes Apple Store for education and public outreach. The app is available for download here:

This work was done by Helen Kostis, Chris Smith, Michael Starobin, Horace Mitchell, Wade Sisler, Neema Mostafavi, Joycelyn Jones, Carl Hostetter, Troy Ames, Kayvon Sharghi, Katherine Lewis, and Richard Mullinix of Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-16233-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the January, 2015 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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