The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is best known for its satellites, weather forecasting and scientific explorations, such as a recent attempt to send an unmanned saildrone around Antarctica to gather wintertime ocean data and better understand climate change.

But that doesn’t mean the public can’t get in on the fun.

A new smartphone app, SOS Explorer Mobile, lets viewers play with an animated globe and some of NOAA’s most fascinating facts.

Users choose visual layers to add on to Earth, then interact with them or watch them come to animated life. It’s like watching a globe that morphs and blooms with different weather, climate and geographical phenomena. You can zoom in, adjust and even make the globe spin as you see the world through different lenses.

The app, available free on Apple and Android devices, is like a miniature portal into one of the world’s most robust collections of scientific information.

It features more than 115 data sets from NOAA, NASA and academic institutions. The information is varied and interesting, such as the global distribution of phytoplankton (microscopic algae that feeds the world’s sea creatures) and visualizations of past weather events like the 1960 tsunami in Chile.

A quick browse of the app reveals visualizations of complex climate predictions, animations of drought risk changes over the years, maps of faraway planets and moons, and even an illustration of the vast nets of Facebook friendships that crisscross the globe. There are educational videos, too, such as one that explains the influence of polar temperatures.

The app allows you to have a pocket-size version of Science on a Sphere, a huge animated globe that museums use to educate visitors. But NOAA has resources for educators who can’t swing the room-sized, high-tech globe, too. It has a big website packed with related learning modules for teachers who want to use the data sets to help students explore science — just in time for school.

Ready to take the app for a spin? Just search for “SOS Explorer Mobile” on your favorite app store.