Kiosk and Hyperwall Debut at 2018 Science Jamboree

One of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s biggest annual events is the Science Jamboree, drawing thousands of staff members and interns to Building 28 each summer. Among the exhibits filling the atrium at the 2018 edition was the new, permanent installation of an interactive kiosk and hyperwall displaying scientific visualizations and other content.

The exhibit is a collaboration between two Computational and Information Sciences and Technology Office (CISTO) organizations—the NASA Center Climate for Simulation (NCCS) and the Scientific Visualization Studio (SVS).

NASA Center for Climate Simulation (NCCS) web developer Neh Patel (left) engages with a visitor to the new interactive kiosk and hyperwall installation. Photo by Jay Friedlander, NASA Goddard.

The kiosk resides on an Ideum Multitouch Drafting Table with a 55-inch screen. It showcases NCCS computing capabilities and science results using a dynamic interface of movable and clickable globes. The kiosk was developed by student interns Naema Ahmed, University of Maryland, and Georgios Roros, Washington College, under the mentorship of Jarrett Cohen, NASA High-End Computing (HEC) Program Office.

The SVS-managed hyperwall is a nine-screen version of the video wall technology that NASA uses to share its science at Goddard and around the world. Maintaining the hyperwall are SVS software engineer Eric Sokolowsky and SVS system administrators Ian Jones and Larry Schuler. In its primary mode, the hyperwall rotates through a playlist of SVS content from across NASA science curated by SVS lead Horace Mitchell and SVS visualizer Lori Perkins. During the Science Jamboree, Mitchell, Perkins, and visualizer Ernie Wright talked to visitors about the hyperwall visualizations and the SVS.

The hyperwall displays highlights of Scientific Visualization Studio (SVS) content from across NASA science. Photo by Debora McCallum, NASA Goddard.

Pairing the kiosk and hyperwall allows the public to directly drive a hyperwall for the first time. The kiosk’s Visuals section features visualizations of NCCS-hosted Earth science simulations and related animations. On each visual screen, clicking a “Send to Hyperwall” button calls up the same or related visual on the hyperwall.

Pairing the kiosk and hyperwall allows the public to directly drive a hyperwall for the first time.

“One of my favorite moments was playing on the kiosk with a kid who seemed really fascinated with what he called ‘a giant iPad,’” said NCCS web developer Neh Patel, who was on hand to help users browse for content of interest. “The kiosk was swarmed by people to interact, and users really enjoyed sending visuals to the hyperwall.”

The 20-foot-wide, 15-screen hyperwall upstairs in the Dr. Piers J. Sellers Visualization Theater hosted five presentations by Sciences and Exploration Directorate scientists. Perkins worked closely with presenters on preparing playlists to effectively illustrate their topics and drove the hyperwall for the presentations:

  • “Comparative Planetology, Exoplanets and the Search for Earth 2.0”
    Avi Mandell, Planetary Systems Laboratory, and Katie Garcia-Sage, Heliophysics Science Division
  • “Parker Solar Probe”
    Eric Christian, Heliospheric Physics Laboratory
  • “Submillimeter Enceladus Life Fundamentals Instrument (SELFI)”
    Carrie Anderson, Astrochemistry Laboratory, and Gordon Chin, Planetary Systems Laboratory
  • “From Space to Society: Solving Practical Problems on Earth”
    Stephanie Uz, Earth Sciences Division
  • “Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite”
    Knicole Colon, Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics Laboratory

Back downstairs, Mitchell and SVS visualizers Tom Bridgman, Kel Elkins, Trent Schindler, Greg Shira, and Cindy Starr invited a slew of visitors into their studio space to show visualizations on large screens.

Across the way from the kiosk and hyperwall a table hosted demonstrations of web-based NCCS Climate Model Data Services tools. NCCS staff members Laura Carriere, Julien Peters, and Savannah Strong showed attendees how to access and use CREATE-V, the Earth Data Analytics Service, and Disasters Mapping and Landslide Viewers. Sharing the table was HEC allocations specialist Nancy Carney, who answered questions about getting time on NASA supercomputers.

Processor technologies deployed in the NCCS Discover supercomputer were the focus of an exhibit staffed by Zed Pobre, Fred Reitz, Jordan Robertson, Adina Tarshish, and Hoot Thompson. The exhibit showed how each new processor generation contains more and more cores, allowing greater computing power in the same physical footprint. 

Students learn about several generations of NCCS Discover supercomputer processors. Photo by Debora McCallum, NASA Goddard.

Jamboree attendees got to see the latest unit of the Discover supercomputer for themselves during NCCS Climate Computing Facility tours. The 20,800-core Scalable Compute Unit 14 was the highlight of tours given by Reitz, Robertson, Nicko Acks, Michael Chyatte, Mike Donovan, Jonathan Mills, and Elizabeth Nerdig. “It was a really cool experience to meet so many people and tell them about what a supercomputer is and what kind of work we do here,” said Elizabeth Nerdig, NCCS facilities engineer.

Jarrett Cohen, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center