NASA’s Perpetual Ocean looks like Van Gogh in HD

Hard to believe this gorgeous video didn’t make the cut for last year’s Siggraph animation show.

From the early days of the space program to today, NASA’s  Scientific Visualization Studio has built up an incredible body of work in computer graphics. Recently the earth satellite division prepared a visually rich and aesthetically simple way to understand the surface currents of the world’s oceans. The result, “Perpetual Ocean,” looks as if Vincent Van Gogh (in his Starry Night period) was the project’s artistic director.

A view of the Caribbean Sea, part of NASA's Perpetual Ocean HD video. (Source: NASA)

The image here is taken from the full HD video. Below is a link to an abbreviated version of the video posted on YouTube; to see the full version in HD as NASA intends, visit their website.

NASA Scientific Visualization Studio created “Perpetual Ocean” by assembling a huge amount of satellite data combined with computational data generated by ECCO2 (Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, Phase 2), a high-resolution model of the global ocean and sea ice. The ECCO2 model simulates ocean flows at all depths, but only surface flows are used in this visualization. The dark patterns under the ocean represent the undersea bathymetry. Topographic land exaggeration is 20x and bathymetric exaggeration is 40x.

“Perpetual Ocean” was submitted at the last minute to the jury for the 2011 Siggraph computer animation festival, but did not make the cut.