Data visualization can take the incredible amount of data that is collected on a daily basis and streamline it down to something that is easily digested to get the point across. Here are the top 10 data visualizations in science:

  1. Satellites Orbiting Our Earth

Using the Union of Concerned Scientists database, this interactive graph has been built to display the over 1,200 active satellites that currently orbit the earth and their trajectories. Each satellite is represented with a circular icon and is color-coded for the country of origin and sized by the launch mass. As you scroll through you can explore the path of a satellite on an individual basis or as an aggregate. Additional information that is included displays the types of satellites that we all depend upon for GPS, broadband internet and Sirius XM.

  1. 200 Countries, 200 Years: Global Health.

The 2010 BBC documentary ‘The Joy of Stats’ included one particular segment that covered the health and condition of the world in a two hundred year span. Hans Rosling, the famous statistician, uses data visualization to explore health data and life conditions in only four minutes. His presentation plots income and life expectancy for all countries, beginning in 1810 and correlates the science involved in closing the gaps between Western and non-Western countries. This data visualization video confirms that as trade and global interaction increases so does improved lifestyles and health which extends the average lifespan.

  1. Exoplanets in the Goldilocks Zone


This National Geographic data visualization calculates which of the planets that have been discovered have the right conditions for the potential of life. Known as the ‘Goldilocks Zone’, the exoplanet must be close enough to its sun to offer temperatures that are not too hot and not too cold. This positioning is believed to offer the ability to have liquid water, which is one of the scientific pre-requisites for the possibility of life. The data used in this interactive graph is from the University of Puerto Rico Planetary Habitability Laboratory. It plots the atmospheric pressure, planetary mass, and temperature to make the determination as to what exoplanets might share the similarities of our home earth to a point of offering the ability to have life.

  1. Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Past, Present and Future

carbon emissions

Screenshot via The Guardian

Using data from the World Resource Institute’s Climate Analysis Indicators Tool and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, this video displays how the CO2 emissions have transformed over the last 150 years by country and includes a range of difference scenarios. It includes the top twenty emitters for past, present and future as well as some of the changes that various countries have made in reducing global emissions. The goal of the video is to attempt to achieve the ‘climate budget’ maximum to avoid continued global warming. It also incorporates potential changes that need to be taken to reduce the potential of enhanced global warming.

  1. Mapping The World’s Biodiversity

Researchers realized that there wasn’t any available technologies or tools to create a biodiversity informatics platform. Their goal was to not only display the data but to indicate how it had changed over time. Working in collaboration with a number of organizations, they developed their own platform and became an early adopter of the CartoDB software. Using global basemaps and date from many sources, they crafted a data visualization ability that allows them to create and share their visualization in minutes by simply ending a link to the map. The open-source software allows them to interface with a variety of API’s, including Google Map. The ultimate goal is in monitoring the biodiversity status and maintaining information that can be of assistance to help in the protection of specific areas and species.

  1. Nanocrafter


Science is not just about learning boring facts, it is also about having fun in the process. Nanocrafter is a game about puzzles, science, and creativity. Nanocrafter is a scientific discovery game about synthetic biology. You can use pieces of DNA to build everything from computer circuits to nanoscale machines, and help advance scientific research with your inventions. In this interactive data visualization, you use DNA as a baseline to build and construct everything from machines to computational circuitry. The results of the creative inventions and imagination assists in scientific research.

  1. Aquatic Field Collector

Many of the topics of earth science relate to the creatures that inhabit the planet but are not always easily accessible for study in citizen science and environmental education. This interactive digital teaching tool offers the ability to review a collection of freshwater stream insects and assist in the identification for bio-monitoring and water quality activities.

  1. Martian Environment Explorer

Using past and current data, the Martian Environment Explorer is an interactive data visualization tool that allows you to explore the climate and weather of Mars. There are interactive globes and maps and through the use of the tools menu you can plot and then download the various results.

  1. Water Resources in the Western United States

An interactive data visualization that allows you to plot and view the various water resources through the 21st Century in the Western U.S. Pan and zoom throughout the map and then click on a particular point to view water levels for a reservoir. You can hover over graph lines to view a specific month’s levels.

  1. Machine Learning With Data Visualization

Using this interactive data visualization tool you can use machine learning to know how technology works. The click and scroll ability brings an enhanced opportunity of the artificial intelligence that is the core that drives innovations such as voice recognition, self-driving cars and even ‘smart’ thermostats. Machine learning is the platform where computers apply statistical learning techniques to automatically identify the patterns that are in data and therefore locate predictions that are highly accurate.

Click here to download The Ultimate Guide to Data Visualization.

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