NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

A new CD-ROM that combines technology, data, and resources from JPL, the University of Nebraska, and several Earth-observing spacecraft will help educators, students, and environmental resource managers learn more about how to apply remotely-sensed data in a variety of disciplines, including physics, geography, and environmental monitoring.

Released by the Consortium for the Application of Space Data to Education (CASDE), the CD-ROM contains images taken from the Space Shuttle, aerial and satellite photography of Nebraska and California, tools for analyzing and viewing, prototype lessons and educational "Building Blocks." CASDE is a partnership between NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and the Johns Hopkins University.

Included on the CD-ROM is a prototype of state-wide electronic snapshots called "Virtual Nebraska." Various types of multispectral images can be accessed as a tool to help provide comprehensive information about selected cities, including vegetation indexes, census data, water boundary information, land use, and other types of agricultural information. Virtual Nebraska will serve as an example of how other states can participate and develop their own virtual states, eventually culminating in "Virtual America," which will include all 50 states.

Targeted to include all Nebraska cities with a population of 5,000 or more, the first CASDE CD-ROM includes data and images from 12 cities of nearly 70 available at the CASDE World Wide Web site. The disc will be sent to approximately 5,000 educators nationwide.

Image processing technology created by researchers at JPL is being used to help make image data easily accessible and comprehensible. An innovative tool called a "DataSlate" allows users to examine a geographic area by overlaying a window displaying one image type, such as infrared, over a background image of a different type, such as visible. The effect is that of seeing through a window, allowing users to quickly compare and interpret how optical imagery differs from imagery at other wavelengths such as radar or infrared. DataSlate also can overlay moveable maps, allowing users to easily navigate to areas of interest.

The CD-ROM contains World-Wide-Web links to the CASDE home page, which links to real-time weather-related images and data from Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES-8 and -9). These images are updated nearly hourly. GOES-8 and -9 are the primary U.S. weather-forecasting satellites that provide atmospheric images and temperature, humidity, wind velocity data and severe storm coverage of Earth's western hemisphere. Those images, combined with space shuttle, radar, aerial and Landsat satellite images of Pasadena, California, and several cities in Nebraska are used to help give users a current view of the weather conditions affecting those cities.

Explanations of image processing, remote sensing, color interpretation, and applications of aerial photography in agriculture also are included. This will allow users to not only reap the benefits of several kinds of data, but also learn the science behind how the images were obtained and processed.

CASDE was formed two years ago in response to a challenge made by Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska to find better, more effective ways of disseminating and utilizing space data in education. The Consortium is dedicated to integrating space data into education, and includes scientists, researchers, technologists, and educators from the partnering organizations, in addition to high school teachers from Pasadena, CA, and Omaha, NE.

"I am proud that the University of Nebraska at Lincoln is pioneering the effort to use advanced technology as a stimulating and challenging educational tool," said Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska. "The CASDE CD-ROM which features 'Virtual Nebraska' will be a national model that demonstrates how easy access to technology can enhance the learning experience by providing new ways for students to explore their environment."

"The CASDE CD-ROM will make things a lot more real to educators and students," said Art Zygielbaum, Co-Investigator of the CASDE project at JPL. "We're taking actual NASA products and integrating them into student's lessons. These products are enhancing the ability for students to learn and the excitement they get out of learning."

Emergency resource managers also should benefit by using the contents of the disc. "An amazingly small percentage of these managers now use remotely sensed data," Zygielbaum added. "We're going to show them how they can apply it, and we expect that they will be able to do damage assessments much more quickly, and will do a better job of predicting where they need to move their resources to prepare themselves for emergencies."

Future plans for the CASDE team include expanding the base of educators, students, and environmental resource managers involved in the project. Virtual America will be expanded to include Virtual California later this year and selected other states in 1998.

CASDE is funded by NASA'S Mission to Planet Earth enterprise, designed to study the Earth as a total environmental system. Additional information is available on the CASDE World Wide Web site:

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