Presenting Data and Telling Stories
Eales, Philip; Wayne, Andrew; Tildsley, Kevin M.; Wilkinson, Tim
Planetary Visions Limited, UNITED KINGDOM

Earth observation data is now readily available at a range of scales and becoming increasingly familiar to the general public. Observations built up over several decades enable us to show long-term change and tell increasingly complex stories about the Earth and other planets. These are important true stories, but they compete for attention with fictional stories told with a very high visual quality in feature films, tv and computer games. Over the years we have found a number of techniques to be helpful in the effective communication of Earth science stories to a non-technical audience. These include the development of large-area satellite image mosaics to provide geographical context in natural colour, the presentation of data within realistic and immersive environments, the use of familiar physical analogues in the presentation of data, and of course high quality and clear design. It can also be useful to explain the scientific or observational context, and to keep in mind some simple, age-old rules of story-telling. As well as understanding the source data, it is important to understand the intended audience and the chosen medium. This presentation will be illustrated with examples of work in print, exhibitions and digital media, and from ESA's Earth observation and planetary exploration programmes.