Geo-visuals of the Earth in the Deep Space zone at Ars Electronica Center, Linz.

Geo-visuals of the Earth in the Deep Space zone at Ars Electronica Center, Linz. Photo Martin Heislmair/AEC

Awesome movies of the Earth, filmed from the International Space Station, are central to a new Austrian exhibition promoting the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (aka Digital Earth) vision.

Launching this week at the Ars Electronica Center in Linz, the In Touch with the Earth exhibition includes NASA’s 3D Worldwind program, scanning the Earth in unusually high resolution and detail. Visitors can virtually board the space station for an orbit to the music of Sigur Ros. And to return to ground, there’s the option to simulate Felix Baumgartner’s recent parachute jump – via 3D images from cameras on his space suit.

Ars Electronica’s Futurelab also has collaborated with Japan’s Miraikan (National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation) space centre to show exceptional spherical visualisations of datasets on the Geo-Cosmos, a 7-meter diameter, LED-studded globe that can be played like a computer monitor. This Miraikan/Futrelab project is ongoing: ‘to generate fascinating insights and Aha! effects for some time to come’.

Also in the new AEC show is the GeoPulse group of urban statistics visualisations (updating the centre’s original GeoCities exhibit). Included are graphic representations of people, traffic and other densities and behaviours in Beijing, New York and Lagos, as well as future cities now being planned. Visitors are offered insights about current mistakes of urban management, how some errors can be corrected, and how cities can be better designed in future.

Highlighting the area around Linz are data visualisations from DORIS, Upper Austria’s spatial data agency and TERRA-MATER – Factual Studios. They used new laser and radar surveying tools to scan the entire region – discovering bomb craters, ancient fortifications and prehistoric relics which are not obvious to casual observers.