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Tom Nolan's Excellent Adventure
Who are NASA's Earth Explorers?

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

Picture of a Dolphin
Image above: Tom Nolan Used to Train Dolphins Like this One. Picture Provided By: NOAA
There are lots of ways to become a NASA Earth Explorer. Here's how Tom Nolan did it.

Tom studied marine biology in college. Then he worked at a theme park. He made dolphins jump and do tricks. Tom liked doing the dolphin shows. And he really liked answering questions. Kids and adults were always curious about the dolphins.

Later, Tom went to Alaska. He was a fishing and wilderness guide there. Then he opened a store in New Mexico. The store sold ski, fishing and hiking gear.

As you can see, Tom had a lot of different jobs. But he never forgot how much he liked explaining the dolphins. That's why Tom came to NASA. At NASA, he could combine science and explaining. His job was to tell people how NASA studies Earth.

Tom still works at NASA. He has a different job now. He uses computers to control MISR. MISR is a satellite instrument. But he still likes to explain science.

Picture of Tom Nolan on the NOAA ship
Image above: Tom Nolan on the NOAA Ship
Last year, Tom went on a ship to the middle of the ocean. From there, he talked about what NASA does. Students and teachers could see him on the Internet. This was part of the NOAA Teacher at Sea program. NOAA is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA and NASA both study the Earth. They also work with each other on projects.

Tom also goes to different towns to talk about science. He does this with other scientists and teachers.

Tom says it's important to always ask questions. That's how he became a NASA Earth Explorer. "If you... 'gotta know,' NASA is a great place to be," Tom said.

Coming in February: Earth Explorers celebrates African American History Month.

Related Resources

My Summer at NASA