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Sunday Science: NASA Movie Premiere

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The Wild Center in Tupper Lake is getting ready for a big debut Saturday. NASA selected the New York nature center for the world premiere of its newest film, "Water Falls," on January 25.

The movie is part of NASA's new Global Precipitation Measurement mission, which will look at where all the fresh water on our planet goes, how much there is, and what form it takes so that we can better understand our climate.

"This is essential for monitoring fresh water supplies -- floods, droughts, and changes in fresh water all over the world," says director/producer Michael Starobin.

Keeping track of all the water, all over the world, 24 hours a day. It's a multi-year mission made possible by a satellite that is being built in Japan and is set to launch on February 28. NASA says the study will change the way we think about where our fresh water goes.

"There is exciting research being done in areas that we thought were ordinary," Starobin says. "People experience rainfall every day and don't give it much thought. But the fact is that freshwater and precipitation actually governs most of life on earth."

And also interesting is the way this film will be shown, on a special spherical screen. It's the only one in New York. Normally it gives young scientists a closer look at the planets in the solar system, the moon, changing currents, or shark and turtle migrations. Occasionally it even takes on a less educational role.

"It's nice to be able to draw them in with something really fun like the Death Star or an owl and then have them continue to explore further and look at more scientific data sets," says Emily Nestle Rode, a seasonal naturalist at The Wild Center.

But showing something like a movie is trickier.

"It's got the opportunity to have a 360-degree audience," she says, "which can be challenging at times if you're trying to show everyone the same thing."

Starobin told us they wanted to use the spherical shape to create a unique experience for everyone in the room.

"The real movie magic for us is designing sequences so that no matter where you are in the room, you're seeing one singular image that isn't duplicated elsewhere," Starobin says. "But you may not be seeing the same thing as somebody else, but you don't feel like you're missing anything."

The Wild Center has also made this coming Saturday a Community Free Day, which means you can walk right up to the museum and go in free of charge. They're hoping that will encourage people to stop by and check out the film.

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