Help NASA Map the Earth

Holli Kohl
Cafe Scientifique New Mexico-Rio Rancho


Holli told us all about what goes into mapping the earth and why NASA is invested in this project. At the cafe, we examined different styles of maps and their utility in addressing different questions. For example, we looked at a heat map of Atlanta, GA and were able to see the dramatic difference between the insulating cement of the city center and the cooler, greener city outskirts. We also learned how mapping the earth can help us prevent and prepare for natural disasters like flooding and forest fires by helping us predict where those events are likely to occur.

Hands on Activity

We had many activities interspersed throughout the cafe. As we arrived, we used an infrared thermometer to examine the differences in temperature between different materials like stone and soil. We also compared the water retaining and filtering properties of loose soil and planted soil and found that the planted soil was much more effective at retaining its structure when exposed to water, and the loose soil eroded away. We also recreated maps using different colors of Lego blocks to represent different environment types (i.e., dark green for forest, light green for grassland, etc.) and compared mapping based on satellite images with mapping based on on-the-ground observation.