Armchair adventurers and educators are invited to explore marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico, investigate the El Nino phenomenon, or simply discover "what's up" in the world of Earth- orbiting satellites through a new multimedia CD-ROM, "Visit to an Ocean Planet," produced by NASA and the French space agency.
Ocean expeditions, interactive games, teacher resources and classroom activities are featured in an array of educational learning tools, quizzes and global snapshots of ocean circulation patterns based on data obtained by the TOPEX/Poseidon satellite, a joint mission between NASA and France's Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES).
More than an hour of digital video, audio, images and text captions describe everything from the impetus for the mission to significant science results obtained during the satellite's three-year primary life span. "Students will be introduced to cutting-edge concepts in science, mathematics and engineering," said Susan Digby, educational outreach representative on the TOPEX/Poseidon mission at JPL.
This educational tool provides background materials, movies, images and classroom activities on three main topics: climate, oceans and life. Targeted primarily for middle-school students, the material is tailored to meet criteria of the National Education Standards office, and offers learning modules on three main topics: climate, oceans and life.
One section enables students to learn about the ocean via interactive games that allow them to plan excursions to the nutrient-rich Gulf of Mexico. This gulf region experiences cyclonic eddies, which attract pods of sperm whales and can produce a variety of severe weather patterns. Another section contains a self-guided multimedia tour of the 1997-1998 El Nino, which was one of the most severe El Nino conditions in recent history, and provides students interested in oceanography careers with a chance to follow the studies of a group of contemporary oceanographers.
The CD-ROM also includes an easy-to-use Earth-orbiting satellite game, which illustrates how TOPEX/Poseidon, along with other satellites, operates from space.
The CD-ROM can be ordered free of charge at:
Launched in August 1992, the TOPEX/Poseidon mission was designed to provide information about the changing topography of the world's oceans which, in turn, helps scientists to understand the ocean's role in the global climate.
The mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Office of Earth Science, Washington, DC. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology.
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