The National Geographic Society is providing a gift to America's children by sending every school in the United States a large, laminated, updated map of the world. Space program technology from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, played a pivotal role in the creation of the satellite map images.
Each of the nation's more than 100,000 public and private schools will receive the two-sided map within the next six weeks. One side of the 1.2 x 1.8-meter (4 x 6-foot) map shows the political world as of June 1998; the other side is a digital image of the physical world based on images collected by satellite. The latter was made possible in part through JPL's digital imaging expertise, which helped create a seamless physical world map out of more than 500 separate images. To do so, JPL drew upon its decades of unique experience in the enhancement and production of images of other worlds sent back by spacecraft from throughout the solar system.
Cartographers at National Geographic Maps relied in large part on a JPL team led by Dr. Nevin Bryant of JPL's Cartographic Applications Group for guidance on working with digital data in order to create the satellite map of the world.
The partnership between the National Geographic Society and JPL was facilitated through JPL's Technology Affiliates Program, one of the Lab's several technology transfer arms. This program is specially designed to help American businesses and other institutions utilize the knowledge and skills of the space program's scientists and engineers.
"This relationship shows how well federal research can be leveraged for the public as well as science," said Merle McKenzie, Manager, Commercial Technology Transfer/Regional Development Program.
"In the closing decade of this century, entire countries have come or gone, boundaries have shifted and place names have changed," said National Geographic Society President John Fahey. "What better way to start the new millennium than to make sure every one of our nation's schools is on the same map?"
The National Geographic Society, founded in Washington in 1888 for the "increase and diffusion of geographic knowledge," is the world's largest nonprofit scientific and educational organization, with 10 million members worldwide.
For information on buying the map ($39.95, order number M8I22001C), call (800) 368-2728. Schools that have not received a free map by the end of October should write to: School Map Giveaway, National Geographic Society Education Foundation, 1145 17th St. NW, Room 2430, Washington, D.C. 20036-4688.
JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology. For further information about JPL's Technology Affiliates Program and related technology transfer programs, visit http://techtrans.jpl.nasa.gov/tu.html .
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