Eyes in the Sky II > GIT Web Course > Module 1 > Week 1 > Getting to Know NEO

Week 1: From the Outside Looking In
Changing Our Perspective of Earth

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Getting to Know NASA Earth Observation (NEO)

The NASA Earth Observations (NEO) site is a great place to find imagery of NASA Earth science datasets. With NEO, you can download global and regional imagery in a variety of formats: PNG, JPG, GeoTIFF, and Google Earth. Additionally, NEO allows users to resize images and download them in color or grayscale. Users can also import NEO images directly into NASA's Image Composite Explorer (ICE) tool to perform basic analysis and explore relationships between datasets. NEO includes over 20 distinct atmosphere, ocean, and land datasets, which are available as global snapshots in daily, weekly, and monthly time spans, and most are available at 0.1 degree (10-kilometer) resolution. The website has a Flash interface and therefore requires a Flash player to operate.

Follow the instructions below to explore the datasets at NEO and download an image of interest to you.


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Select & Display a Map for a Given Time Period

  1. Go to the NASA Earth Observations (NEO) Web site. The NEO Web site will open in a new browser window. Be sure to use a Web browser that is both Flash and Java enabled.

  2. NEO organizes datasets into five categories: Ocean, Atmosphere, Energy, Land, and Life. Decide which category of data sets is most relevant to something you already teach or something you are interested in teaching in your classes. Click on the appropriate button to see the list of available datasets.

    Example: If you are interested in studying the role of snow cover in Earth's energy balance, you might want to look at global maps of albedo (reflected short wave radiation). Start by clicking on the "Energy" button under the map to display the "Energy Datasets."



  3. Select the dataset you want to display on the map. The display window loads the most recent monthly map. To select a particular month of interest, refer to the "Search Results" field below the map. Use the "Next" link at the bottom of the list to see additional months.
    Continuing with our albedo example, select the "Reflected Shortwave Radiation" dataset.


    The display window loads the most recent monthly map of Reflected Shortwave Radiation. To select a particular month of interest, such as January 2009, refer to the "Search Results" field below the map. This field lists the most recent 10 months out of the twelve months for which this map is available. Use the "Next" link at the bottom of the list to get to January 2009.


  4. Click on the "+" symbol to expand the field for a given date range.
  5. Click "View" to display the map for that date range.
  6. Download the image of your map in JPG format and save the file where it will be easy to find later. Before you begin, we recommend that you create a folder to hold any images you will download during the course. Within that folder, we suggest you create Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, etc. folders for each of the 12 weeks of the course.
    • In the Download Options box, change the selection from Full to Resize. Then select a fixed resolution of 0.5 degrees to make the image smaller. Click the "Get Image" button to render the image.
      The January 1, 2009 to January 31, 2009 reflected shortwave radiation image is now displayed. In the Download Options box, change the selection from Full to Resize. Then select a fixed resolution of .5 degrees. Click the "Get Image" button to render the image.
      NEO get image

    • The rendered image opens in a new window. On a PC, right-click on the image and on a Mac, control-click on the image to download and save it. Do not change the file format, keeping the image as a jpeg. Save the image into the folder you created and give it a name that makes it easily identifiable.
      The rendered image opens in a new window. On a PC, right-click on the image and on a Mac, control-click on the image to download and save it. Do not change the file format, keeping the image as a jpeg. Save the image into the folder you created and name it 01_albedo.jpg. NEO jan09 save as


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Find Out About the Dataset Used to Produce the Map

  1. Examine your image and think about what background knowledge students might need to understand that image.

    Examine the January 1, 2009 to January 31, 2009 albedo image.




    Background information:

    Albedo is derived from the Latin word "albus" for white. It is the percentage of solar (shortwave or ultraviolet) radiation reflected by a given surface on Earth. The range can be as little as 3% for water with light shining on it at a low and to as high as 95% for fresh snow cover. This reflected energy is measured in Watts / m2. (the amount of energy per square meter). Higher values indicate more reflectance. Lower numbers show areas of less reflectance.


  2. Click About this dataset to learn more details about what your map is showing.
    NEO radiation about dataset
    The following text box opens.
    NEO about radiation dataset


  3. The information in the text box can be used to create guiding questions for studying the image.

    • What areas are the brightest?
    • What areas are darker?
    • How would you define Albedo in terms of brightness?

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