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EarthKAM: Students To Study Erosion On Our Planet
April 9, 2013

Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students (EarthKAM) is a NASA education program that enables thousands of students to photograph and examine Earth from a space crew's perspective using the Internet to control a digital camera mounted aboard the International Space Station. (NASA)
Are you a teacher or student who wants to control the EarthKAM on board the space station?
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Every continent on Earth hosts some or all of these majestic land forms that often bridge national borders and lure far away adventurers to cross, climb and forge them.

Shaped uniquely by processes that scientists characterize as weathering or erosion, they are the signs of an aging planet.

Weather and erosion are among the environmental concepts presented to middle school students as part of their introduction to the Earth sciences. ISS EarthKAM, a NASA educational outreach program, is prepared to bring that classroom instruction to the planet's mighty landforms and the powerful forces of nature that shape them to life with an opportunity for students to meet and discuss them with an astronaut.

The International Space Station, staffed continuously by astronauts and cosmonauts since late 2000, offers an awe inspiring vantage point from which to observe these environmental jewels that feature such stately names as the Amalfi coast of Italy, the Portage glacier of Alaska, the Himalayas of Asia, Egypt's Nile River delta and California's Death Valley.
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The ISS EarthKAM Erosion Challenge, April 23-26, offers middle school students and their teachers the opportunity to select a favorite global landform and submit its name over the internet to EarthKAM's ground controllers. Once the name is submitted, the control team will arrange for the landform to be photographed with a dedicated EarthKAM camera positioned by the astronauts in the space station's Destiny science lab.

Once they've receive their electronic image, teacher led student teams can submit their photograph along with a one paragraph (no more than 250 words) description of the erosive forces at work on the landform.

A photo of contrails over Lisbon, Portugal, as seen from the International Space Station. This picture was taken as part of the Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students (EarthKAM) mission. (EarthKAM) A photo of contrails over Lisbon, Portugal, as seen from the International Space Station. This picture was taken as part of the Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students (EarthKAM) mission. (EarthKAM)
› View hi-res image A picture of the east coast of Massachusetts taken as part of the Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students (EarthKAM) mission. (EarthKAM)A picture of the east coast of Massachusetts taken as part of the Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students (EarthKAM) mission. (EarthKAM)
› View hi-res image

The top five entries, as judged by a panel of EarthKAM experts, will be invited to a live videoconference with a NASA astronaut at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas on May 17, 2013.

During the interactive video session, winning students will have the opportunity to share their images and chat with their astronaut host. Each school participating in the challenge will be invited to view the web cast and submit questions online for the astronaut as well.

To participate:
 

  • Enlist a teacher to create or log into an ISS EarthKam account at: https://earthkam.ucsd.edu/ek-images/erosion_challenge.
     
  • Follow the instructions for submitting photo requests. As the April 23-26 challenge period approaches, EarthKam will provide the station's predicted ground track to help with the photo requests. Requests can be submitted while the challenge is underway.
     
  • Email the ISS EarthKAM image and the brief description of weathering forces to ek-help@earthkam.ucsd.edu. These Entries must be received by Friday, May 3, 2013.
     
  • Winning schools will be announced on Friday, May 10, 2013.
     
  • The astronaut live chat will take place on Friday, May 17, 2013, from 11 a.m. until 12 p.m., CST.


Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students was initiated by Dr. Sally Ride, America's first woman in space, in 1995 as KidSat. After flight as a camera payload aboard several space shuttle missions, the program was renamed ISS EarthKAM. The camera system was placed aboard the space station as a permanent science education payload during Expedition 1 in 2001.

The ISS EarthKAM Mission Operations Center, located at the University of California, San Diego, is modeled after NASA's Mission Control Center at the Johnson Space Center, and staffed by undergraduate students to support four missions annually.

The San Diego mission team targets, requests, and retrieves images from the International Space Station and communicates with NASA's Mission Control for all EarthKAM activities.

Physicist, author and advocate for education, Ride was selected for NASA's astronaut corps in 1978 and flew twice as a Mission Specialist aboard the shuttle Challenger in 1983 and 1984. Later, she served as CEO of Sally Ride Science, the company she founded to advance classroom education in science and engineering.
 

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NASA Public Affairs Officer Nicole Cloutier-Lemasters interviews Teaching in Space Project Coordinator Kelly McCormick about Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students, or EarthKAM.
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Page Last Updated: December 17th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator