EARTHDAY 2010 – News from JPL

This Earth Day, JPL is reaching out on multiple platforms, and connecting with a younger audience.

By Brandon HENSLEY

On April 22, 10 a.m., there will be a live Web chat for students with Mike Gunson, project scientist for NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 mission. Gunson will take questions from students on how NASA studies the Earth’s climate.
Questions submitted beforehand by classrooms will be answered along with logging on and chatting live. The chat is geared toward grades three through eight. A transcript of the chat will be available afterward.
JPL will also be at the Aquarium of the Pacific on Saturday and Sunday, providing information on how NASA tracks climate changes.
Karen Yuen, Earth public engagement manager for JPL, said it’s important for people to realize that NASA isn’t all about astronauts, and explained how satellites are used for tracking climate changes.
“We turn all of our instruments and cameras lying on the satellites back
toward Earth … by being able to do that you get the global perspective that you wouldn’t be able to do with airplanes and other instruments,” she said,
With the technology, NASA can track, for instance, how high ash from volcanoes go up in the atmosphere, and record global
temperature changes.
“We need to keep a record of that, so we see variations in temperatures, we can see variations in what’s in the atmosphere,” Yuen said. “We can point back to which source it was.”
NASA also plays a big role in keeping ocean data, and Yuen is happy that JPL has been coming to the aquarium for three years on Earth Day.
“We have a strong position in physical oceanograohy for NASA, so we love going out there for them,” Yuen said.
JPL is just part of many groups and organizations that come to the aquarium every Earth Day. Last year, Yuen said over 13,000 people attended the weekend.