Earth Information Center opens at NASA’s D.C. headquarters

As part of a new display, NASA is converting the lobby of its Washington, D.C., offices into a view of Earth from orbit. I was granted early press access to this unique Washington location. Where else might you go into an unassuming office building and discover the outcomes of cutting-edge space exploration? What you need to know before you travel is listed below.

What it is: The NASA Earth Information Center is a physical and virtual exhibit that displays all of the perspectives that the agency and its partners have of Earth from space. It also demonstrates how monitoring trends in air quality, temperature, climate, water levels, and ecosystems can aid in our understanding of and ability to combat climate change.

There are four attractions in the actual display. The immersive and interactive experience to the left of the foyer (more on that below) could be the most thrilling. A dashboard serves as the primary display and provides real-time data on weather patterns, air quality, and other topics. As part of the introduction of the Earth Information Center, NASA is now making this information available to the general public. A touch-screen kiosk that offers further information and reports regarding the data gathered from satellites is also there. A NASA data visualization specialist told me he thinks that the fourth attraction, which is visible from the street via the front glass windows, will pull visitors in from the street. It is a light show that displays the data traveling up to and down from an orbiting satellite in real time.

What to expect: The immersive chamber, the focal point of the new exhibit, has three walls and a floor covered with pictures of our planet and atmosphere. A disembodied voice in the small, dark chamber describes the beauties of our globe and how ecosystems function to make it habitable for all living things. Within the five to ten minutes that you are inside, an astronaut will also speak to you. It should be noted that the space can only accommodate three to five people at once, therefore there can be a wait on busy days.

What I liked: The formerly vacant lobby of NASA's offices is now open to visitors as part of this display. It's a part of the agency's aim to make all the data it gathers accessible and understandable. You may stop by on your next downtown excursion, and space-loving travelers can add it to their list of fast visits that will excite both kids and adults. Furthermore, it shouldn't take you more than 20 minutes to examine the entire display.

Insider's knowledge: The NASA Earth Information Center is available for free from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Be considerate while extending your invitation inside; the remainder of the building is occupied by offices.