For a month in the fall of 2011, NASA staff conducted an experiment of a different kind. They shared satellite images and maps with Chicagoans, but not in a classroom or a museum. The images of Earth were posted at malls, at bus and train stations, in O’Hare Airport, and on roadside billboards. The experimental question was: would compelling images of the city and planet provoke people to learn more about earth science?
“We wanted to try and grab the attention and interest of an ‘on-the-go’ audience, one that might not seek out NASA information unless they had a primer,” said Brian Campbell, a NASA Earth science education specialist who led the effort. “The health of our planet is in jeopardy, and we want the public to know why and how we are trying to understand what is happening.”
The idea was to meet Americans where they live; that is, to bring science to the people, instead of waiting for the people to find science. Twelve NASA missions collaborated on images, messages, and strategic development of the Know Your Earth public awareness campaign. (Click on the link to see all of the images.)
A secondary goal was to make the public aware that NASA does Earth science. So many Americans think the agency is just human spaceflight, big astronomy, and planetary probes. But in fact NASA is one of the world’s largest funders and employers of earth scientists.
Know Your Earth first launched in 2010 with the premiere of video segments shown in 291 movie theaters across the United States. The full-length video is available here on YouTube. Below is the shorter teaser that also hit theaters in July 2010.
Results and evaluations of the fall 2011 awareness campaign are still being compiled, but early reactions are positive. So what do you think of the Know Your Earth campaign? Does it make you want to learn more? Where should they take this project next? See www.nasa.gov/KnowYourEarth