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Leroy Chiao and Salizhan Sharipov with an image of the International Space Station behind them
What better way to learn about weather and space than from astronauts actually in orbit? Students at Phelps High School in Phelps, Ky., had the opportunity to do just that last month when they talked by videoconference with International Space Station crewmembers Leroy Chiao and Salizhan Sharipov.

Image to left: Chiao and Sharipov answered questions from students about weather and space. Credit: NASA

Chiao and Sharipov fielded questions from Phelps seventh-graders on a variety of weather-related topics, including how solar wind affects the ISS and how astronauts help predict Earth's weather. Then they signed off with their signature back flips, made easy by the weightlessness of space.

The event was attended by more than 1,000 students and teachers from Phelps and other nearby schools, and broadcast live on NASA TV, Kentucky Educational Television and the NBC affiliate in Lexington, Ky.

In preparation for the big day, the Phelps seventh-graders were visited by a local TV meteorologist, Bill Meck, who talked to them about weather and space and helped them develop questions to ask the astronauts. Students also conducted their own research using various NASA education resources.

Bill Meck and Sue Ellis
Image to right: Bill Meck and Sue Ellis discuss the day with the Phelps students. Credit: NASA

Schools and other organizations interested in hosting an event like this should e-mail nseo@ems.jsc.nasa.gov for more information.

In the meantime, anyone can share in the unique view of Earth that astronauts have from space. More than 145,000 photographs of the planet's atmosphere, oceans and land masses have been taken from the ISS. These and other images from space can be accessed at: http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/sseop.

Students can even take their own pictures of Earth from space with EarthKAM, a digital camera mounted in a window onboard the ISS. Students control the camera using the Internet, decide what pictures it takes, and then use the pictures to conduct scientific investigations. For more details, please visit: http://www.earthkam.ucsd.edu.

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Dan Stillman, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies