students explore NYC Landsat 8 mosaic

Students exploring the 8′ x 10′ Landsat 8 mosaic of NYC at the 2015 World Science Festival. Photo credit: Jeannie Allen

Jun 1, 2015 • The World Science Festival in New York, NY provided a fascinating array of public explorations into the nature of science from May 27 to 31, 2015. “Rethink Science” was an appropriate theme, because out-of-the-box experiences of how science works and why it matters were typical for the five days of this annual festival. Venues were spread across the city in public plazas and universities. Participants studied diverse science and technology disciplines from anthropology to remote sensing. They met working scientists including astronauts; toured laboratories; and learned about career paths.

Landsat mosaic of NYC metro area

The Landsat 8 mosaic of the New York City metro area featured at this year’s World Science Festival.

Thousands of festival participants interacted with an 8 ft. by 10 ft. Landsat mosaic of New York, which was printed on durable fabric they could stand and sit on for lengthy exploration. Coached by Landsat public engagement staff, festival participants identified familiar features of New York landscapes and investigated features that were new to them. They saw their neighborhoods, parks, highways, rivers, harbors, islands, and beaches in a new way. They learned that Landsat satellites capture light reflected from Earth’s surface, that Landsat has been recording changes on the Earth since 1972 and that all Landsat data are freely available. Many families came to explore the mosaic, and parents used it to teach science and geography to their children. Everyone young and old wanted to know, “Where’s my house?”

The Landsat mosaic of New York was installed in Gould Plaza at New York University next to NASA’s Orbit Pavilion, an art piece featuring the sounds of 19 NASA satellites that monitor the pulse of our planet from the extraordinary vantage point of space.

The World Science Festival has been an annual event since 2008. For more information, visit:

+ Geographia Feature: New York City, 1860