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Landsat Outreach: Celebrating Earth Day 2024

Landsat Outreach: Celebrating Earth Day 2024

On April 18 and 19, Landsat outreach coordinators Ross Walter, Allison Nussbaum, and Michael Taylor supported the Earth Day event at NASA Headquarters in Washington. This year’s Earth Day theme was, “Water touches everything”.


At the event, Nussbaum, Walter, and Taylor used two activities to explain and highlight the benefits of the Landsat program: a spectral matching activity with the STELLA DIY handheld spectrometer and an image matching activity with the 8’ x 10’ vinyl Chesapeake Bay floor mat. Taylor led the spectral matching activity and used the STELLA spectrometer to explain remote sensing in a hands-on way and demonstrate how scientists study the data behind Landsat images using various objects’ spectral properties. He explained to student groups and visitors how Landsat senses light reflected off of the surface of the Earth that travels back up into space and is recorded by Landsat sensors. He explained how this information translates to what we see in an image – either natural-color or infrared-color.


Walter and Nussbaum used the Chesapeake Bay floor mat to demonstrate how we can use color, shape, pattern, and texture to recognize various features on the Earth’s surface. Visitors matched small, laminated cards to the same location on the mat. As a secondary activity, they matched aerial photographs of the Chesapeake Bay area to locations in the Landsat image.


The two-day event at NASA Headquarters had significant participation from local student groups and the general public who wanted to learn more about how NASA’s satellite missions study Earth. Over the two days, there were more than 1,000 visitors who actively engaged in the Landsat activities. On April 19, Bill Nelson, the NASA Administrator, visited the Landsat booth and learned about how beneficial and foundational the five-decade-long Landsat program is to society and to furthering the scientific discovery of Earth processes.


Events open to the public attract a diverse range of people including students, families, and educators. Supporting the NASA-led Earth Day event in Washington allows the Landsat Outreach team to interact one-on-one with the general public in a hands-on way and share why the Landsat program is essential for our understanding of Earth. Additionally, it allows the Landsat Outreach team to raise awareness about Landsat’s role in monitoring various environmental issues such as deforestation and climate change.

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