Celebrating 2009 Earth Day: NASA is Leading the Greening
People around the world set aside Earth Day each year to reflect on the beauty, abundance and health of our home planet. At NASA, every day is Earth Day. We all should be proud of our contributions to the understanding of Earth, its climate and its future.
More than 40 years ago, the image that prompted the modern environmental movement was taken from a NASA spacecraft that took humans to the moon for the first time. During the Apollo 8 mission, astronaut Bill Anders took the iconic Earthrise photograph. He commented, "We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth." One of the legacies of the Apollo program was a profound appreciation of the fragility of our planet and a need to become better stewards of it. It was when we first left the planet that we came to realize its importance.
Today, NASA maintains 15 Earth-observing satellites in orbit, with another 11 missions in development or under study. During the coming decade, NASA's Earth science research program will be analyzing data to understand and predict trends in Earth's climate system for both research and applications.
Our Earth science missions, and NASA support to other government agencies such as NOAA, provide information to researchers studying climate, disease transmission, agriculture and weather. We also provide information directly to the organizations that deal with urban planning, agriculture, floods, earthquakes, fires, hurricanes and others applying remote sensing data.
The environmental movement continues to this day. Today's students are using NASA tools, like the EarthKam, to learn about Earth and the challenges we face. Sustainability of Earth and its resources is a fundamental part of NASA's mission. NASA research is essential to national and international efforts to employ Earth observations and scientific understanding in service to society.
As NASA and the world continue to look to the stars for inspiration, we learn more about our own planet. With every planet we visit, every moon we examine and every planetary system we discover with our spacecraft and telescopes, we learn more about our home. Every technology we develop to sustain life off the planet helps us improve life on Earth. As you reflect on this Earth Day, be proud of your part in improving our understanding of and appreciation for Earth and think about what actions you can take to make it an even better place.
For more information about NASA Earth Day activities: see here.
For more information about NASA Earth Science: see here.
For more information about how NASA benefits everyday life: see here.
Hat-tip to our buddy Randy for letting us know. For an interview with Denis Hays, the founder of Earth Day and a Stanford Law classmate and friend of mine, see here.