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Astronaut candidates (ASCAN) Hands-on Earth Science Class

June  2023 – STELLA was used as part of a larger Earth Science lesson with the astronaut candidates (ASCAN) in the summer of 2023..  The candidates. went outside and took spectral measurements of a variety of subjects including the side of a building painted with many different colors.  They then came back inside and analyzed the data a team collected using the STELLA-Dataviewer.

A woman leans against a multicolored wall, using it as a hard surface as she jots on a piece of paper. Behind her, a man uses a TV-remote-looking STELLA device. The backdrop is bright green grass and a blue sky dotted with white clouds.
Astronaut candidates test STELLA devices outside during a class focused on NASA Earth science missions. The experience gave them a better understanding of what affects spectral data measurements, and the importance of calibration of NASA instruments and data. Photo credit: NASA / Allison Leidner

After using STELLA with the astronaut candidates Allison Leidner, Program Manager for Climate & Resilience Applications at NASA Headquarters had this to say, “Just looking at the data helped things sink in.

“It’s a very nice engagement tool – more than just images, it gets into the quantitative aspect of satellite data. It provides insight into the scientific process – how to think analytically. It also provides teachable moments about uncertainty in measurements – an appreciation of calibration and validation of NASA data.

“The ability to hold the instrument in your hand and make those measurements yourselves makes STELLA valuable. It gives you a rough sense of what satellite data look like and how these data help us understand our Earth.”