Friday, July 20, 2007

In the Shadow of the Moon

Today Brooke, Steph, & I had wonderful opportunity to see the pre-release of the movie In the Shadow of the Moon. What an amazing movie!! Today, July 20, 2007, marks the 38th Anniversary of the first landing of humans on the Moon.

So, you're probably wondering what's this movie about. In the Shadow of the Moon is a documentary featuring never seen before NASA footage of the Apollo missions. This includes footages taken by the astronauts while they were on the Moon and in Mission Control. The filmmaker, David Sington, also include interviews from the Apollo astronauts.

The stories these men tell, bring the whole experience of going to the Moon, or almost making it, to life. As you sit and listen to them you can see the excitement and the passion in their eyes. The trials of just getting a single rocket off the ground without it exploding to launching three men around the Moon. You begin to realize the accomplishments that science, engineering, and technology have made to make all of this possible. Seeing the tools we used to get there the Apollo era makes it even more exciting is how LRO will assist in discovering the unknown. Thus once again allowing astronauts to go back to the Moon.

It's amazing to realize that the last time a human has stepped foot on the Moon was nearly 35 years ago, and we haven't been back there since. For many people, having people fly into space is taken for granted. After watching this movie, I don't think I would take it for granted anymore. The images shown from the command module makes you realize how small the Earth is in the grand scheme of things. This movie was definitely inspiring. I just hope I have the opportunity to inspiring the next generation of astronauts and explorers, and they find that space a marvelous place to visit.

As well as winning the World Cinema Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival this year, this movie was a big hit with its pre-release at the NASA centers today. Its release is planned for September 7th.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Three new NASA Explorer Schools (NES) come to Goddard

Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet with the members of the three new NES for the Goddard service region and show them all of the great professional development opportunities related to Aura. One of the members of the Goddard Office of Education arranged to have all of the Earth Science educators from center come and give a ten to fifteen minute preview of their educational programs. The new NES schools were treated to a smorgasbord of materials from Aura, IceSat, Landsat 7, and MESSENGER. Wearing my Aura hat, I offered opportunities to be trained on materials relating to air quality (ozone and NO2 production) and the stratospheric ozone layer (ultraviolet radiation). The NES team was particularly interested in the ultraviolet activities, and was very adamant about getting me to visit Elizabeth, NJ to give a professional development workshop! One member from each of the teams were grouped together and given an introduction to the Aura Ozone Monitoring Garden by my colleague Jeannie Allen. All in all, the teams seemed extremely interested in getting their hands on the wealth of materials GSFC Earth Science had to offer, which was great!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Adding GLOBE to the mix

The GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) program was the brainchild of Al Gore..conceived when he was Vice President. Gore envisioned school children from across the world making science measurements that scientists could use as part of their research on environment.

From the GLOBE website:
Announced in 1994, GLOBE began operations on Earth Day 1995. Today, the international GLOBE network has grown to include representatives from 109 participating countries and 135 U.S. Partners coordinating GLOBE activities that are integrated into their local and regional communities. Due to their efforts, there are more than 40000 GLOBE-trained teachers representing over 20000 schools around the world. GLOBE students have contributed more than 16 million measurements to the GLOBE database for use in their inquiry-based science projects.

I became involved in GLOBE several years into the project as the Co-Investigator on the GLOBE Soils Investigation. Later, when I started working with Aura EPO we partnered with the GLOBE Aerosols Investigation Co-I to have students take ground-based Aerosols and UV measurements for satellite validation. Check out "Enhancing Research and Education through Partnerships" to learn more about GLOBE and Aura.

On August 1st I will become a member of one of the new GLOBE Investigations: Seasons and Biomes.

I'm excited about working in GLOBE again, especially during this time that concern for our environment has become an important issue again.

Here's a summary of the project:
The Seasons and Biomes Project is an inquiry- and project- based initiative that monitors seasons, specifically their interannual variability, in order to increase K-12 students’ understanding of the Earth system. Seasons and Biomes connects GLOBE students, teachers, and communities, with educators andscientists from three Earth Systems Science Programs: International Arctic Research Center (IARC), NASA Landsat Data Continuity (LDCM), and Terra Satellite Missions.

How can studying seasonal change help students better understand Earth as a system?
Seasons connect all five spheres of the Earth system - atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere– and the interaction between these five spheres affect the timing and duration of seasons. By monitoring seasons, students will increase their understanding of how interactions within the Earth system affect their local seasons and how in turn variations in seasons affect their communities as well as regional and global environments.

What is a Global Learning Community (GLC)?
For the Seasons and Biomes Project our GLOBE Learning Community will be an international network of GLOBE schools organized by biomes. A biome is a large geographic area of distinctive plant and animal groups maintained under the climatic conditions of the region. Students in each GLC will monitor their seasons through field campaigns using GLOBE protocols that have been adapted specifically for their biomes. In addition, ice and mosquito phenology protocols will be adapted for Arctic/Subarctic and Tropical regions, respectively. The project will target two GLCs each year and focus on the Tundra and Taiga biomes initially.

What about satellite data?
Landsat and MODIS satellite data will be used to teach students what biomes are, how they are classified, and how to identify their region’s biome. In turn, the students’ field measurements collected during their field campaigns will validate the satellite data.