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.
  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.
  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 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.

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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.
  2. Click About this dataset to learn more details about what your map is showing.

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

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