Initial Publication Date: October 23, 2015

Blueprint: Songs of a Distant Earth

Earth is a beautiful world. The intricacies of our planet are the stuff of adventure and inspiration. Units in this blueprint explore earth science themes from large to small scales and evaluate the dynamic nature of earth processes through a systems view. For example, solar flares are large scale elements in earth systems and microbes are some of the tiniest, yet both may have a huge effect on global climate conditions.

At the same time, we live in a global context with shared implications. The decisions that a community makes locally may have impacts on the other side of the planet. Or a natural event can unite citizens around the globe. In communities around the world, citizens are being asked to respond and provide input to planning processes for problems that are explained and understood through earth systems analyses.

Ultimately, distance is a matter of perception. What appears isolated and unrelated to our daily life may, in fact, contribute directly to quality of life and conditions on Earth today, centuries into the future, or even millennia in the past.

This blueprint was inspired by the Voyager Golden Records included aboard spacecraft Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, which were launched in 1977 to study Jupiter and Saturn. The mission has since been extended to explore the outermost limit's of the sun's influence and beyond. Voyager 2, which also flew by Uranus and Neptune, is on its way to interstellar space. The Voyager phonograph records contain sounds and images chosen to portray life on Earth, including a varied musical selection.

"This is a present from a small distant world, a token of our sounds, our images, our music, our thoughts, and our feelings." Jimmy Carter, Voyager Spacecraft Statement by the President., July 29, 1977, The American Presidency Project

To open a unit or an activity in a new tab or window, right click the unit or activity link and select the preferred option.


Introduction: Why Earth Science, a YouTube video from AGI.

  1. Peering into the Universe
  2. The Solar System
  3. Earth From Space: Big Blue Marble
  4. Journey to the Center of the Earth: Earth's Structure
  5. The Dynamic Earth: Plate Tectonic Processes
  6. Earth's Global Ocean
  7. Earth's Cryosphere: Baby It's Cold Outside
  8. Natural Hazards: Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth
  9. Living With the Planet

Ending: A View of the Earth, from The Moth radio hour, Astronaut Michael J. Massimino recounts his mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope and his realization that we are all together, space travelers on spaceship "Earth."

Additional Unit: Fossil Record and Evolution

Musical Playlist