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It Takes a Village
02.17.05
 
Who Are NASA's Earth Explorers?

The student thinking about El Niño. The scientist studying climate. And the farmer looking at satellite images. All of these people are Earth Explorers. They're all curious about how Earth works. This is a story about a NASA Earth Explorer.


It was the day after Christmas. The year was 2004. A large earthquake had just rocked the Indian Ocean. Some scientists thought that the quake might cause huge waves. Large waves caused by earthquakes are called "tsunamis."

The scientists knew that a lot of people could be hurt if the waves hit land. They wanted to warn people who lived near the Indian Ocean. But there wasn't a good system in place for spreading the word.

Sure enough, a tsunami soon struck. Many people had no idea it was coming. A lot of people were hurt. Some even died. A little bit of warning could have saved many lives. That's why it's important to share science information.
Teacher Mr. Moore stands to the left of a student poster project showing various satellite images of different locations as two students stand to the right of the project
Image above: Mr. Moore (left), chose Justin (right) and Darryl (center) to go to Denmark. Credit: NASA

U.S. and Denmark students were learning to share science long before the tsunami. They did science projects that studied Earth. Then they visited each other to explain their work. They traveled with their teachers.

The projects used data from NASA and other sources. The U.S. students pretended that a truck had caught fire. They used wind and cloud data to figure out which way fumes might blow. They also tracked a hurricane. The Denmark students used soil and land data. They wanted to see if farms were polluting water.

Students in both countries learned a lot from working on the projects. But they learned even more when they visited each other. Justin and Darryl were the lucky U.S. students. Their teacher, Mr. Moore, picked them to go to Denmark.

They learned that the same kind of data can be used in different ways. And they learned how important it is to share science. They found out that the best way to study Earth is for people to work together.

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Dan Stillman, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies