Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Explore, Discover, and Seek to Understand
As children growing up, we explore. First in the playing pen. Then the house. And then we venture out of the house, supervised of course. That’s where we discover a whole new world, even though it’s just the immediate environs. Then we learn and seek to understand, both vicariously and experientially, assimilating the corpus of knowledge that humankind has accumulated. So we explore, discover and seek to understand as individuals, as society, as citizens of countries, and as earth inhabitants.
NASA does the same thing too, but with the entire earth as a unit, and then some when it started to deploy both manned and unmanned space missions, probing the edges of the universe that we now know to exist.
NASA, short for National Atmospheric and Space Administration, was established in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It has pioneered aeronautical research, developed space shuttles that made space travel possible, and launched satellites into Earth orbit, helping us understand how our home world changes.
While many earth-based observatories have been established throughout the world, their views are all pointed skyward. Ever imagine how the earth looks like from a space-based observatory? Well, it seems now we can explore, discover, and seek to understand our mother earth from the confines of our house, just like we first started doing those things as children, at the Earth Observatory. Aptly named, the web site provides breath-taking images of earth processes under the categories of Atmosphere, Land, Ocean, Energy, and Life.
The images are accompanied by news-like stories that expound on the significance and ramifications of the features/processes depicted. Examples are climate phenomena (hurricanes, the expansion of the ozone hole over the South Pole), large-scale sea reclamation (Palm Islands, Dubai), and terrestrial hazards (volcanic eruption, forest fires). These are just a very very small sample of the 263 pages of images (9 per page) accessible at the site. I’m alternately awestruck by the grandeur of our home planet and flabbergasted at the large-scale destruction of earth’s habitats, all captured on the lens and now archived on this easily accessible repository for posterity.
My aim is to go through each and every image, read the story, and perhaps mull over it. I’m sure it’s going to be a marvelous digital flight over earth, each snapshot frozen in time, where varying shades of pleasant surprises would be the only constant. Bon Voyage to everyone who would like to hitch a ride!