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Earth Observatory 10 Year Anniversary video Final Transcript
Most people think of NASA as looking up from the earth in the heavens or going out from earth to explore space. And so we thought why don’t we turn that metaphor around and call it an Earth Observatory and give people a space-based perspective for looking back at the earth.
Title Screen: Celebrating 10 Years of NASA’s Earth Observatory
yes I remember the day that we first published NASA’s Earth Observatory website. It was April 29, 1999. Almost exactly 10 years ago. And it was just a thrill. There was a feeling of euphoria.
We looked at what information NASA had on the web for earth science and it was all very technical. So we wanted to provide a more easily accessible and prettier approach to show what NASA had.
Before we launched TERRA, which at the time was called EOS-AM1, a brilliant scientist by the name of Yoram Kaufman approached me and offered the idea that most people don’t know about this mission.
A lot of the idea for the Earth Observatory was playing off of a metaphor that Yoram would often use. He would speak of the earth as if it was a middle aged person, a patient that was just starting to show signs of physical health problems. And now, for the first time, with the imminent launch of TERRA, we were going to have a diagnostic device. He would often say, we’re going to give the planet a check-up. Wer’re going to put out information about the health of the planet.
So we starting thinking in terms of what if there could be a place online, where we could do some sort of a near real-time readout from the satellites that gave vital sign indicators of the health of the planet
I study climate and I’m also very interested in extreme events, things like tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, snow falls in some areas, either warm temperatures or very cold temperatures. And the great thing about the EO is that I can go there and I can see recent satellite data of those specific events or episodes. So it provides immediate data of areas of interest to me and of a wide range of other people.
I went home one Friday afternoon and there really was not a lot going on. There was this little tropical storm kind of going out around Florida. Not much really exciting going on. And over weekend I got a phone call from a member of my family saying did you hear about hurricane? And I thought oh dear, I’m missing something. So I went and logged into the MODIS rapid response which provides a lot of the satellite imagery to EO. And there was this giant, giant hurricane aimed dead center for New Orleans. So we stayed and worked very hard to get all of the flood imagery out. At the end of the week I got an email from somebody at NOAA and they were trying to assess the impact of the flooding. And he said he’d been in New Orleans all week and he had not been able to get a good map or a good overview of the situation. And he was delighted to come home and log onto the Earth Observatory and he saw the thing he had been looking for all week: the overall view of what the impact of the hurricane had been on the Louisiana coast.
Many people are using content from the site and don’t even know it. It’s begun to intertwine with the overall backdrop of communications about the earth, of iconic image representations of the earth, and so in a way it’s kind of achieved a level of icon status.
The best moment was when I bought my iphone and I turned it on and one of my pictures was on the loading screen, which was cool
I think the images are very powerful b/c they make people think about the earth in a different way
I’m on the faculty of the oceanography at the Naval Academy, I teach a course in waves and tides and another in satellite remote sensing. I use image of the day all the time, I have students start off the class discussing image of the day, discussing what satellite instrument produced the image, whether it was active or passive and what we’re learning from that image.
It’s easier to visualize the very c omplex components of the earth’s system if yiou have these very real data to depict how it all works and seeing them all come together makes these difficult concepts more concrete
I get to see the whole earth everyday and how many people can say that? It’s a lot of fun.
I really hope that people see what we do and it connects to them and they get some joy out of it.
NASA has played just an amazingly important role in shaping our nation’s and the world’s identity of itself. We are a nation of explorers. We are a nation that fundamentally believes that the future should be better than it is today. And that science and technology will play a role in that.
I hope the one thing people learn from EO is that our earth is a very beautiful and unique planet and we have a responsibility for taking care of it.
Slate: Visit NASA's Earth Observatory on the web at: earthobservatory.nasa.gov