content top

Connecting Space to Village

Connecting Space to Village

NASA and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) have teamed up and have brought the world an initiative called SERVIR. Using satellite images of the Earth and other technology, SERVIR works with organizations in developing countries to forecast climate risks and land use. People in Africa, Hindu Kush-Himalaya, Lower Mekong, and Mesoamerica have already been benefiting for years from SERVIR’s outreach. But who in the US has heard of this good work we are doing?

Last week at the American Astronomical Society’s 228th Meeting in San Diego, NASA’s Daniel Irwin gave a plenary talk on SERVIR and how he came to help start it. For many of us astronomers, it was the first time we had heard of SERVIR, and we agreed that more people should know about it.

It began with Irwin simply showing the people of Guatemala satellite images of the deforestation that was occurring without their knowledge. SERVIR has developed a lot since then, and is now present in over 30 countries. Hundreds of lives have been saved thanks to the knowledge and action brought about by SERVIR in the face of floods and earthquakes, especially in Central America and Bangladesh.

To learn more, please visit SERVIR’s website, where you can read about each of the 36 (and counting) success stories. Also visit  NASA’s pages about SERVIR. SERVIR doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page yet (except one about its Mekong Project), but that will change soon.

 

 

Read More

Recalling the Importance of Wonder

Recalling the Importance of Wonder

Last night I had the privilege of speaking about astronomy to the boys at Sacred Heart Apostolic School in Rolling Prairie, Indiana. After telling them a bit about myself, I narrated the story of the cosmological revolutions of the past century, answering the question how we know the Universe is expanding. Afterwards, I explained the current understanding of our Solar System in order to justify why the classification of Pluto as a dwarf planet is justified. I left 20 minutes for questions and was glad I did. The boys asked all sorts of great questions about astronomy and about my experiences. As I then prepared to do some observational astronomy with the seniors, I kept thinking about how marvelous a group of boys these were. Although I had barely gotten to know them, I could see their authentic wonder at how the world works. It made me think that wonder is the best attitude with which to keep the mind sharp. As we gain more experiences in life, wonder can fade, but like a bonfire, it doesn’t have to; we just need to keep feeding the fire and fanning the flame. Out on the soccer field under the night sky, we were then able to look at the crescent Moon and Jupiter (and its moons) through a small telescope and a couple of pairs of binoculars. One shooting star capped off a wonderful night of summer astronomy.

Tomorrow I fly to San Diego for the 228th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Stay tuned for updates.

Read More
content top