Science Visualization Studio

Dr. Horace Mitchell

They take data from scientists around the world and create animations and video to explain – offers these analyses free to anyone in the world:

Archive of information – not highly organized: intent for others to use the information as needed

“The mission of the Scientific Visualization Studio is to facilitate scientific inquiry and outreach within NASA programs through visualization. To that end, the SVS works closely with scientists in the creation of visualization products, systems, and processes in order to promote a greater understanding of Earth and Space Science research activities at Goddard Space Flight Center and within the NASA research community.

All the visualizations created by the SVS (currently totaling over 3,000) are accessible to you through this Web site. More recent animations are provided as MPEG-4s, MPEG-2s, and MPEG-1s. Some animations are available in high definition as well as NTSC format. Where possible, the original digital images used to make these animations have been made accessible. Lastly, high and low resolution stills, created from the visualizations, are included, with previews for selective downloading.”

NASA’s Aqua Satellite and Its Contributions to Earth Science and Applications

Claire Parkinson

Measuring water on the earth … approx 70% of earth’s surface using 6 instruments

Different instruments serve different purposes in order to measure various ranges in the electro-magnetic spectrum

Carbon dioxide is second most important greenhouse gas on the earth (first is water vapor) … “we know humans are greatly contributing to the increase… it’s clear that industrialization and land use has led to carbon dioxide concentration rising”

Keeling Curve from 1960 to 2010 shows increase over time, as well as the annual cycle because of vegetation in northern hemisphere – AIRS data from 2002 until today confirms Keeling Curve showing Mauna Loa data is confirmed on a global level

NASA runs multiple missions collecting data in order to validate the information (ground measurement compared with satellite measurement)

MODIS tool has such good resolution, can view forest fires, oil slicks, water, vegetation, etc. – very easy to view changes over time

Aqua enables data to be collected to anyone who points a direct broadcast receiving system at the satellite; has gotten far more reception than expected when launched (collects over 89 gigs of data per day)


Are the satellites powerful enough to read the name on a golf ball? No, Aqua and Terra have nowhere near that resolution (MODIS resolution is the best – gets down to 250 meters)

Where to google maps get their data? They use a lot of NASA stuff, but they use other sources as well.

Can we retrieve the satellites? They are far higher than where the shuttle goes – we can’t actually retrieve them.  But we don’t let them decay and add to space debris. Therefore the amount of fuel is calculated so that at the end of its life, the satellite will descend to a point where they will decay and pieces will safely fall to earth. Earlier satellites were launched without that plan in mind, but now all NASA launches must have a plan for safe descent.

An Overview of NASA Earth Science Satellite Constellations

Steve Platnick, EOS Project Scientist, A-Train Project Scientist

Angelita C. Kelly, EOS Science Interface Manager, Constellation Team Manager

History of NASA studying earth science

“Man must rise above the Earth – to the top of the atmosphere and beyond – for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.” (Socrates, 400BC)

We live in a gifted time in terms of technology

3 main earth observing system (EOS) platforms: individual satellites carry multiple earth observing tools in themes: water cycle, land, tropospheric and stratospheric chemistry

research on …

  • atmospheric composition
  • climate variability and change
  • water and energy cycle
  • carbon cycle and ecosystem
  • earth surface and interior
  • weather
  • interdisciplinary science


constellation flying (group of satellites coordinated to fly in tandem so photographs of earth are taken at the same time): A-Train (afternoon constellation) and Morning Constellations

Multiple satellites with different instruments complement each other – provides bigger picture

The Constellations are an international effort, managed by multiple organizations

All scientific data is completely free and web-accessible from anywhere in the world

Students who aspire to work at NASA should take math and science courses as soon as they are offered at their grade levels; there are various choices for a technical career at NASA: scientist, engineering, data systems, computer specialist, analyst, quality control, education and outreach (and there are non-technical careers that contribute to NASA’s work)


  • A-train:
  • Earth Observing System (EOS) Project Science Office:
  • The Earth Observatory:
  • Science Visualization Studio:
  • MODIS Rapid Response Imagery:

NASA Do-It-Yourself Podcast

    Great classroom activity:
    Are you looking for a new approach to engage your students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics? NASA’s Do-It-Yourself Podcast activity sets the stage for students to host a show that features astronauts training for missions, doing experiments in space or demonstrating equipment. We’ll provide a set of audio and video clips along with photos and information about a space-related topic. You and your students may choose as many items as you want to include in your project and download them to your computer. Students may use the information we provide or conduct their own research to write a script for an audio or video production.

NASA eClips

NASA eClips™ are short, relevant educational video segments. These videos inspire and engage students, helping them see real world connections. New video segments are produced weekly exploring current applications of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, topics. The programs are produced for targeted audiences: K-5, 6-8, 9-12 and the general public.

NASA eClips™ offer unlimited flexibility in the classroom for timing, sequencing and pacing instruction to meet the needs of students and classroom instructors. Educational material for this program is selected based on national curriculum standards identified by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, or NCTM, the National Science Teachers Association, or NSTA, and the International Society for Technology in Education, or ISTE.

The Best Math+Science Professional Development

I have the good fortune to be attending the first of three annual sessions at the Goddard Space Center for the Pennsylvania statewide Math + Science Partnership grant. The goal is to provide teachers with phenomenal professional development. At Goddard, they’ll receive superior content instruction in one of the world’s leading learning facilities. Later in the summer, they’ll receive a weeklong intensive training on pedagogy and integration of web 2.0 tools. The work will continue through the school year with workshops, courses, and meetings held across the state. For their troubles, teachers will be compensated for their time and receive classroom materials. Ultimately, the true beneficiaries will be students across Pennsylvania who will reap the rewards of improved instruction and access to STEM resources.