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Making the Ocean Interactive

Posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 at 12:00:00

We sometimes have a saying on the PACE team: Breathe deep... and thank phytoplankton.

Happy World Oceans Day coloring page
Gif artwork by Sarah Amiri

A lot of our research focuses on these tiny creatures that have a big impact on Earth's ecosystem. It's just one way NASA studies the ocean.

NASA research is helping us learn new things about our waters everyday. It's information we want to share with the world.

For World Oceans Month, we created a series of coloring pages and interactives to show the variety of ways we study the ocean. From missions to satellites to exploring the importance of phytoplankton, we are always looking for ways to better understand our ocean.

Interested? Learn more here.
Download coloring pages or play with the coloring interactives here.

Learning about the ocean also takes creativity, including the communicators that work with PACE scientists.

PACE coloring page
Gif artwork by Sarah Amiri

To create PACE's coloring pages and interactives, a lot had to do with making connections.

The idea first started with web developer Annette deCharon, who was tasked with building and updating the PACE website.

As the owner of ODYSEA LLC, she is always looking for different ways to tell the ocean's story.

"The thing that stands out, at least the oceanic part of PACE, is color," she said. "I was thinking that coloring is fun. How could we use the joy of coloring to engage people and represent how PACE is seeing the full color spectrum and beyond?"

Checking PACE data coloring page
Gif and artwork by Annette deCharon

Annette was also inspired by the resurgence of coloring books targeted for adults, which peaked a few years ago.

On the other side of the country, artist Sarah Amiri from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography/ Univ. of California San Diego was also inspired by the PACE mission. Merging ocean studies with illustration she has been creating art for years, mainly inspired by her field work. "Honestly, art has served as a necessary creative outlet throughout my life. I like to incorporate opposing elements into my projects, and I feel most comfortable within the limitations of art and science," she said. "I'm motivated by playful artists like Matisse, technical scientific illustrators like Haeckel, and data scientists like Nadieh Bremer. Most of my creative projects highlight phytoplankton and bacterioplankton at or above the air-sea interface."

Then she found the PACE mission online and became more inspired by the web content. She quickly got to work illustrating different ocean scenes, including types of sea life and more.

"I have a penchant for phytoplankton and the volatile world of clouds and marine derived aerosols," she said. "PACE is the only NASA earth viewing satellite that can observe all these parameters at once."

She said that in ocean studies, researchers are always on the lookout for creative illustrative work, but it can be a challenge to find.

To fill the gap, she said it's not uncommon for ocean researchers to also be artists.

For World Oceans Day, we merged art with digital. This included creating downloadable coloring pages as well as online interactives.

On the digital side, Annette also created two digital interactives of Sarah's work. She also created her own interactive pieces titled What Will PACE Help Us See? and How Will We Check PACE Data?

Annette said she was inspired by PACE's hidden gems, which are only revealed when you add color to the interactives.

Learn more about PACE and how NASA studies the ocean by posting your finished coloring pages. Please tag @NASAOcean.