Part 1: Download Images from NASA NEO Website1 2

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.

Select and Display a Map for a Given Time Period

Go to the NASA Earth Observations (NEO) website ( This site may be offline. ) and display the Energy Dataset, Reflected Shortwave Radiation image for January 1, 2009 to January 31, 2009.

Find Out About the Dataset Used to Produce the Map

  1. Examine the January 1, 2009 to January 31, 2009 image of Reflected Shortwave Radiation.
  2. This image shows how much incoming shortwave radiation is reflected by Earth's surface. Reflected energy is measured in Watts/m2 (the amount of energy per square meter). Higher values indicate more reflected solar radiation. Lower numbers show areas of less reflected solar radiation. The amount of reflected solar radiation is affected both by the amount of incoming solar radiation, which can be zero during the Arctic winter, and the reflectivity of the surface.

    As you view these images, consider what factors are affecting the reflectance of the light and how the amount of reflectance varies both across the Earth's surface and through the seasons. Also consider how Earth's ability to reflect incoming sunlight impacts its energy balance and temperature.

  3. Click About this dataset to learn more details about what the map is showing.
  4. When the text box opens, use the information in it plus your observations to answer the following questions about the dataset:
    • What areas are the brightest?
    • What areas are the darkest?
    • How would you define reflected shortwave radiation in terms of brightness?

Download a Year's Worth of Monthly Data

Before you begin, create an Albedo folder to hold the twelve images you will download.
  1. Download the January 1, 2009 to January 31, 2009 image at a resolution of 0.5 degrees and save it as 01_albedo.jpg. Repeat the process for all twelve months of 2009 until you end up with a total of twelve images, named from 01_albedo.jpg to 12_albedo.jpg.
  2. If you had difficulty obtaining the images, then download and save the ones here. Click each thumbnail to open the full size image in a larger window. Then right-click or control-click to choose file Save Image As... Do not rename the files. Keep them as 01_albedo.jpg, 02_albedo.jpg, etc.

    01_sw_radiation January 2009

    02_sw_radiation February 2009

    03_sw_radiation March 2009

    04_sw_radiation April 2009

    05_sw_radiation May 2009

    06_sw_radiation June 2009

    07_sw_radiation July 2009

    08_sw_radiation August 2009

    09_sw_radiation September 2009

    10_sw_radiation October 2009

    11_sw_radiation November 2009

    12_sw_radiation December 2009

Your Assignment: Download A Different Set of Time Series Data from NEO

  1. Create a folder (directory) on your computer for your Day 2 files.
  2. Use the process described above to gather your own set of time-series images from one of the other datasets within NEO and save these to the Day 2 folder.
  3. In Part 2, you will be stacking and animating these images, so be sure to gather at least 12 images.
  4. Then go to the Part 1: Share and Discuss page and post just one of your images to demonstrate that you can download an image from NEO.


1Adapted from Earth Exploration Toolbook chapter instructions, "Using NASA NEO and ImageJ to Explore the Role of Snow Cover in Shaping Climate" under Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0.
2Adapted from Eyes in the Sky II online course materials, Copyright 2010, TERC. All rights reserved.
3New material developed for Earth Analysis Techniques, Copyright 2011, TERC. All rights reserved.