Transcript for NASA Connect - The A-Train Express

[Shaun O'Keefe:] Hi!

I am Shaun O'Keefe.

I am the administrator of
the National Aeronautics

and Space Administration and
also the father of three kids.

I am excited by the opportunities
that we can provide from NASA

to inspire that next
generation of explorers.

Matter of fact, I am here at
Belmont Ridge Middle School

to lend a hand on a
NASA Connect activity.

NASA Connect lets viewers
experience the exciting

and important work that
engineers; scientists

and technicians do every day.

Work that's about the future and
for which you our next generation,

will have the opportunity to
pick up and carry to new heights

and possibly other planets.

There are many hands on and web
based activities from NASA Connect

that the family can
do together at home.

I encourage you to learn more

about those activities
in today's program.

On this episode of NASA Connect
you learn how weather affects our

daily lives.

You will see national

and international scientists
using satellite technology

to help improve weather
forecasting and improve our ability

to predict long-term
climate change.

You'll also be introduced

to two NASA satellite earth
science missions CloudSat


In your home or classroom
you will apply math, science

and technology concepts with
two really cool activities,

all in this episode of NASA
Connect, the "A" Train Express.

[ Music ]

[Jennifer:] Bonjour!

I am Jennifer Pulley and
welcome to NASA Connect,

the show that connects you to
math, science, technology and NASA.

On today's episode we are
filming on location in France.

Voila! As you can see France
is a beautiful European country

that is rich in culture
and history.

Here is a quick tour at some

of the places we have seen
during our trip to France.

[ Music ]

[Jennifer:] As you can see
France is a great place to visit,

especially when you
have nice weather.

Speaking of the weather, what is
one of the first things you want

to know when you wake
up in the morning?

Well, if you are like
me you'll think, hmm,

wonder what the weather
is going to be like today?

You depend on information about the
weather for a variety of reasons;

you need to decide what to wear
to school and you need to plan

for after school activities
if they are outdoors.

Did you realize that the weather

in the United States can
have a significant affect

on what the weather will
be like here in France?

Storms heading Eastward from the
Atlantic coast can bring wind

and rain to Europe
a few days later.

We truly live in a global society

where we all are interconnected
in some way.

Today's program will focus

on predicting weather
and climate change.

You will learn that we need to
work together internationally

to answer some of the
questions that earth scientists

from around the world ask everyday.

But before we get to those
questions, let's first learn

about the fundamentals
of weather and climate.

>> During the course of the
program you will be asked

to answer several
inquiry based questions.

After the questions appear

on the screen your teacher will
pause the program to allow you time

to answer and discuss
the questions.

This is your time to explore
and become critical thinkers.

Students working in
groups take a few minutes

to answer the following questions.

How is weather different
from climate?

List and discuss various kinds
of weather you have experienced?

What are some factors
that determine weather?

What climate do you live in?

It's now time to pause the
program and answer the questions.

[Jennifer:] Okay guys
lets talk about weather.

Basically, weather is
the daily condition

of the earth's atmosphere.

Weather is produced by the
interaction of several factors

which include heat, air
pressure, winds and moisture.

Let's briefly look at
each one of those factors.

Heat transferred from the sun is
absorbed by the earth and spread

through the atmosphere.

Air temperature varies
from place to place

because of the suns rays strike
the earth at different angles.

Air pressure is the measure of
the force of the air pressing

down on the earth's surface.

Air pressure depends on
the density of the air.

Denser air exerts more
pressure than less dense air.

Air pressure on the earth can
vary considerably from location

to location due to unequal
heating of the atmosphere.

These air pressure differences
cause the movement of air

which we called 'wind'.

Finally, the amount of moisture

in the air called 'relative
humidity' also influences weather.

Moisture in the atmosphere
condenses causing clouds to develop

and precipitation to
fall to the earth.

So have you come up
with the difference

between weather and climate?

I said earlier that weather
is the daily condition

of the earth's atmosphere,
but what about climate?

Well for most of us climate means a
location is hot, cold, wet, or dry.

You see climate is the
average weather conditions

for a specific region over
an extended period of time.

The climate of any
place is determined

by two main factors
temperature and precipitation.

The earth is divided into
three major climate zones based

on the average temperature
of these zones.

They are the tropical,
temperate and polar zones.

Can you determine what
climate zone you live in?

To learn more about
weather and climate check

out the following NASA website.

Have you even been in a situation

where the weather forecast
called for sunny skies?

Yet, it ended up raining
all day long.

You think, Oh!

If I only had my umbrella.

But you know guys the job

of predicting weather
accurately is a difficult one,

because our atmosphere
it's constantly changing.

You see in order to predict the
weather accurately for the hours

and days ahead, weather
forecasters must analyze

information they receive
from a number

of sources including local weather
observers, weather balloons,

weather stations and satellites.

Speaking of satellites,
NASA has a train

of satellites called 'The
Afternoon Constellation' nick-named

the A-train, which
are orbiting the earth

and they are collecting all
sorts of data including data

that will help predict
weather and climate change.

Two additional satellites, CloudSat
and CALIPSO will soon be launched

to be a part of that train.

CloudSat will help
improve weather prediction

by studying the different aspects
of clouds as its name implies.

CALIPSO will help predict
climate change and how aerosols

or particles affect
the earth's atmosphere.

Later on in the program Dr.
Didier Tanre will tell us all

about aerosols.

But first let's visit
with Dr. Graham Stevens.

He is the principle investigator
on the CloudSat mission.

[ Music ]

[Dr. Graham Stevens:]
Thank you Jennifer,

we rely on accurate weather
predictions for many activities.

Farmers need to know the best times
to plant and harvest their crops.

Airplane take offs, landing,

and flight powers are
scheduled recording

to local weather conditions.

Weather forecasts alert
people to severe storms

that could endanger loss of
property and most people want

to know what the weather would be
like as they go to and from work

or school or plan
outdoor activities.

But do you think weather

or forecasts are always correct?

What do you think causes
errors in weather forecast?

You know Jennifer is
right when she stated

that weather predication
is difficult.

The atmosphere is
constantly changing

and even though we receive weather
data from the variety of sources

such as weather stations,
satellites, weather balloons

and ground based observers,
it is still impossible

to predict the weather correctly
a hundred percent of the time.

One of the ways in improving our
prediction of weather and climate,

is to develop new
technologies that helps us

to understand how the
atmosphere works and new satellite

that will help improve
weather prediction is NASA's

CloudSat satellite.

CloudSat will provide the
first vertical cloud profiling

from space, improving
weather and climate forecast.

Before, we continue with the
specifics of the CloudSat mission,

here are a few questions I
would like you and your peers

to discuss and answer.

What is a cloud?

What types of clouds exist?

Which clouds make which weather?

Why it is important
to study clouds?

Is now time to pause the
program, so how did you do

with your questions you know
clouds are all made of water?

Sometimes they are made
of tiny drops, far apart

and held up by the wind.

Other times they have made
big drops held up for a while

by very strong output
winds inside the cloud.

In this kind of cloud, the
drops become too heavy to stay

up so they fall to earth as rain
or if it is cold enough they fall

to earth as snow, hail or sleet.

Clouds are classified based
on three factors their shape,

the altitude at which they occur,

and whether they are
producing precipitation.

Clouds come in three basic shapes,
cumulus clouds which are heeped

and puffy, stratus
clouds which are light

and cirrus clouds which are wispy.

Clouds also occur in
three altitude ranges,

specifically the altitude
of the cloud base.

High clouds which occur about six
thousand meters and designated

by cirrus or cirro are cirrus,
cirrocumulus, and cirrostratus.

Middle clouds which occur
between two thousand

and six thousands
meters and it designated

by alto are altocumulus
and altostratus.

Low clouds which occur below
two thousand meters are stratus,

nimbostratus, cumulus,

stratocumulus, cumulonimbus
and fog.

I bet you didn't think
fog was a cloud;

it's a cloud that
touches the ground.

Clouds that incorporate the
word nimbus or the prefix nimbo-

are clouds from which
precipitation is falling.

Can you think of another
type of cloud?

I leave the answer to
that question up to you.

So, how many of you wondering how
to keep all those clouds in order.

You know its tuff even for me

that why uses this globe
cloud chart as a reference.

You will learn more about
globe later in the program.

So why is it important
to study clouds?

Clouds exert an enormous influence
on our weather and climate.

They are nature's way
of moving fresh water

from place-to-place on earth.

Clouds play a very important part
in maintaining earth's temperature.

We need to understand how clouds
reflect the sun's energy back

in to space or trap the earth's
energy in the atmosphere.

We call this 'Earth's
Radiation Budget'.

Using the clouds at satellite
for the very first time,

we will be able to measure the
altitude and properties of clouds.

CloudSat radar will slice through
the atmosphere providing vertical

cross section view of clouds
and furnish new weather

and climate data including
cloud layer thickness, cloud top

and base altitude and
water and ice contents.

Existing space based systems
only observe the upper most layer

of clouds and cannot
reliably detect the presence

of notable clouds layers,

nor determine the cloud
water and ice contents.

The penetration of
CloudSat's radar into

and through clouds will
yield a new capability

that fills a critical
gap in existing

and planned space borne
observational systems.

With these new technology clouds

that will improve
weather predictions,

increasing the accuracy
of severe weather,

hurricanes and flood warnings.

And now Jennifer I think the
students are ready to size

up the clouds, back to you.

[Jennifer:] Thanks Dr. Stevens.

I really had no idea how much
the clouds impacted our weather.

Well now it's time to see
how much you've learned.

And it's time for you
to size up the clouds.

Students from the school
of international studies

at Meadowbrook in North of
Virginia will preview part one

of this program's
hands on activity.

[Student1:] NASA Connect asked us

to show you this program's
hands on activity.

[Student2:] In this
activity you will set

up three simulated clouds
representing three different

cloud affects.

You will use different methods

to estimate precipitation
content in each cloud type.

The precipitation from each
cloud would be released

and you will compare your estimates

with what is actually
occurring on the ground.

[Student1:] In addition to
learning about weather forecasting,

we will also be using math
skills like estimation,

percentages, averages and ratios.

You can download a copy

of the educator guide containing
directions and a list of materials

from the NASA Connect website.

[Student3:] Teacher should cut a
three quarter inch diameter hole

in the center of the bottom
of three different foam cups.

Cover the hole with a postit note.

Place about one ounce of
MNMs in a plastic bag.

Twist the bag tightly and
tie the excess bag in a knot.

Cut off the access to
make compact bundle.

Make a second bag
following the same procedure.

Select any cup poured about half
full of MNMs, then add a bundle

of MNMs and fill more
loose MNMs into the cup

until it is three quarters full.

The loose MNMs will
represent the amount

of precipitation in each cloud.

Fill the second cup to about
one third full of MNMs.

Fill the third cup to about
one fourth full of MNMs.

Add a bundle of MNMs and then
continue filling with loose MNMs

until the cup is one half full.

Secure the lids on the
cups by taping the joint

with masking tape
or transparent tape.

Invert the cups and label
each cup, cloud type X, Y,

and Z below this write the actual
capacity of the cups chosen.

Line up the cups on a table.

Students will estimate
how many ounces

of precipitation each
cloud type contains.

Write the estimate
on to the data sheet.

Next remove the postit note and
shine a flash light into the hole.

Make a new estimate
of how many ounces

of precipitation each
cloud type contains

and record it on your data sheet.

Do this for each cloud type.

Choose a person to weigh each
cloud type cup on a scale.

Record the weight ounces.

Remember weight ounces do
not equal volume ounces.

Once you have collected all

of the data you will revise your
precipitation estimate based

on your data answer
these questions.

How does the data compare
with your estimates?

What factors might
cause differences?

If you had another cloud type

of a difference size would
the data collected make

for a more accurate
precipitation forecast?

Discuss these findings
with your class?

[Jennifer:] Great job you guys.

Okay now let's review.

First we learned the difference
between weather and climate.

Then we learned how
weather is produced

by several factors like
heat, energy and moisture.

Next Dr. Graham Stevens told us how
the CloudSat satellite will be able

to help improve weather
predictions across the globe.

>> Ah! Merci beaucoup

>>Now let's focus our
attention on aerosols,

climate changes and CALIPSO.

Now for that we are going to head

to the Space Agency
of France or CNES.

What NASA is to America,
CNES is to France.

So let's go speak with Dr.
Didier Tanre he is a Principal

Investigator of PARASOL
and a Co-Investigator

for the CALIPSO mission.

CALIPSO is a satellite
that's been built

by both France and United States.

[Dr. Didier Tanre:] Let's
see Jennifer the climate

of the earth has not remain
constant over the course

of time it has changed in general
it seems affecting the changes

in climate and changes in climate
are affecting living things.

Working in groups, see if you can
observe the following question.

What are some reasons why our
climate has changed over the time?

Teacher you may now
pause the program

so students can answer
the question.

Some people thought
increasing temperature it seems

that earth's climate
is may be changing

but the processes behind the
changes are not as clear.

Two of the biggest
uncertainties in understanding

and predicting climate change also
affect of clouds and aerosols.

The CALIPSO or Cloud Aerosols Lidar
and Infrared Pathfinder satellite,

observation satellite mission
will help us answer some questions

about climate processes by
providing new information

on clouds and aerosols.

Dr. Stephen's provided you
with some information on clouds

so now let's concentrate
on aerosols.

What are aerosols?

Aerosols are tiny
particles suspended

in space some occur naturally
originating from volcanoes,

dust storms, fires and grass
land fires, living vegetation

and sea spray, human
activities such as the burning

of fossil fuels, and alteration

of natural surface cover
also generates aerosols.

Averaged over the
globe, aerosols made

by human activities currently
account for ten percent

of the total amount of
aerosols in our atmosphere.

Lot of that ten percent
is concentrated

in the Northern Hemisphere.

Can you think of a reason why?

We have much to learn about
the way aerosol affect global

and regional climates.

We don't know in what regions

of the planet atmospheric
aerosol is increasing, decreasing

or remaining constant.

Over all we don't know
whether aerosols are warming

or cooling the planet.

So why do we care about aerosols.

Aerosols tend to cause cooling

of the earth surface
immediately below them,

because it reflects Sun
light back into space,

aerosols have a direct cooling
effect by reducing the amount

of solar additions that
reaches the surface.

If you saw it's a aerosol cooling
may partially offset expecting the

global warming that is
activity to increases the amount

of carbon dioxide and other
gases from human activity.

Did you realize that if there were
no aerosols in the atmosphere,

there would be no clouds?

What can we say about
the relationship

between the clouds and aerosols?

Aerosols are believed to have
a indirect effect on climate

by changing the properties
of clouds.

As aerosol concentration
increase in the cloud,

the water in the cloud would get
spread over many more particles?

Each of which is correspondingly

In this way changing aerosols

in the atmosphere can change the
frequency of cloud occurrence,

cloud thickness and
rainfall amounts.

Also clouds with low
aerosol concentration

and too larger droplets do not
scatter light well and allow much

of the sunlight to pass
through reach the surface,

however the higher
aerosol concentration

in these clouds allow the formation

of many small liquid water
droplets up to 90% of visualization

of a light is reflected
back to space by such clouds

without reaching earth's surface.

The best known evidence
of the effect of aerosols

in the atmosphere occurred in 1991.

A severe volcanic eruption

on Mt. Pinatubo Philippines put
an estimated twenty million tons

ofsulphur dioxide
into the atmosphere.

Aerosols from the eruptions
stayed in the atmosphere so long

that the earth temperature that
in the following year cooled

by almost half a degree.

So earlier in the program Jennifer
was right, it is that place there

in United States affects
the whether here in France

and allover the globe.

And the reverse is true.

Scientists have been observing
clouds and aerosols globally

on space for many years using
sensors that measures the amount

of energy within clouds.

The sensor observe how clouds
and aerosols, by which latitude

and longitude but provide
detailed information

of what is inside the clouds or
on how is the value of altitude.

For the first time again through
satellite we provide vertical

[inaudible] like images
of the atmosphere

on the global scale using LIDAR .

So LIDAR technique is similar
to radar in in operation

but LIDAR uses short
frequencies of laser light instead

of audio waves to
form the atmosphere.

So the LIDAR data on
aerosols will allow us

to determine what is laser.

Altitudes of clouds and
aerosol layer and the extent of

[inaudible] to notify
the composition of clouds

and to estimate their
abundance and sizes of aerosols.

That is so because of high

[inaudible] with such tool to
study the earth's atmosphere

and will provide you the
international community

with the data sets
that are essential

for better understanding
af the Earth's climate.

With more confidence in
climate, more than predictions,

international leaders will be able

to make more informed
policy decisions

about global climate change.

So as the next time you wake
up on a hazy summer day,

you can tell your friend's that
the haziness, may be caused

by Sun storm or volcanic eruptions

that occur all the
way around the world.

Now back to you Jennifer.

Au revoir

[Jennifer:] Merci Dr. Didier Tanre.

Well, now that you are
experts on aerosols.

Let's head to College Contelanda,
located in Bordeaux France

for part deux of this
program's hands on activity,

the globe aerosol protocol.

[ French Language ]

[Jennifer:] In this activity
called 'Aerosol's protocol'.

You will use a Sun photometer

to measure the aerosol optical
thickness of the atmosphere

or how much of the Sun's
light is scattered or absorbed

by particles suspended in the air.

Remember you can download a copy

of the educator guide containing
directions and list of materials

from the NASA Connect website.

When you all ready to go
outside put your Sun photometer

in an insulated bag to keep
at it room temperature.

Putting your Sun photometer

in a bag will help minimize any
temperature sensitivity problems.

To begin taking measurements

with your sun photometer
lift the power switch on

and then select the green channel,
hold the instrument in front

of you about chest high.

Point the Sun photometer at the
Sun and then find the spot made

by the sun as it shines through
the front alignment bracket.

Remember guys never look
directly into the sun.

Use the mark on the rear
alignment bracket as a guide

to align a Sun's spot until
it rests on the color dot.

It is normal for the read out to
fluctuate within a few millivolts.

Record only the highest reading
that you see over a period

of about fifteen seconds.

Record the value on the data
sheet and the time of the reading

to within fifteen seconds.

Now take the dark voltage
reading, cover the two holes

on the Sun photometer.

Record the value of the dark
voltage reading on the data sheet.

Switch to the red channel;
record the maximum voltage

and the time just as you
did with the green channel.

Then take the dark voltage
reading again just like before.

You need to repeat the
process for the green

and red channels two more
times giving you a total

of three data points
for each channel.

Next using your cloud
chart as a guide, observe

and record cloud conditions,
determine what types

of clouds here in the sky.

Record you observation
on the data chart.

Next determine the
percentage of cloud cover

and record the value
on the data sheet.

Now you need to observe
the sky conditions.

What is the sky color?

Is the sky clear or hazy?

Is the sky obscured
by fog, smoke or haze.

Record these observations
on the data sheet.

Finally, record the current
temperature when you get back

into your classroom log on
to the following website.

You will record all your
data into the database.

The database will automatically
convert your voltage readings

to aerosol optical thickness.

To learn more about
assessing a Sun photometer,

check out the NASA Connect website.

Tres bien super job you guys.

You sure did collect a lot of
data in your aerosol protocol.

Now don't throw it away, because
it could be useful to scientists

from around the world.

Say, how would you
like to be a part

of a really cool international
science program?

Well Dr. Dianne Robinson
CALIPSO Outreach Director

from Hampton University
and Dr. Teresa Kennedy

with Globe International
can tell you more.

[Dr. Dianne Robinson:]
Thanks Jennifer,

those are great activities that
can be used with GLOBE and CALIPSO,

the satellite, being
built right here

at the Alcatel Building,
in Cannes, France.

[Dr. Teresa Kennedy:] If you
would like to participate

with this experiment or other
earth science activities related

to satellite observation.

The globe program is actively
looking for students to work

with scientist worldwide.

Globe is collective
worldwide effort

to collect environmental
observations into a large database

on the internet and
we welcome the French

to be the newest members to GLOBE.

Students around the
world collect real data

in all earth science areas.

The measurements collected
by students are sent

to the GLOBE database via the web
or e-mail and used by students

and scientist around the world.

The student information is used in
a real way with the data collected

by scientist and satellites
to give us a greater idea

about how the environment works?

Once submitted these data
are publicly available

on the GLOBE website and
are displayed graphically

with GLOBE visualization tools.

[Dr. Dianne Robinson:] An
important aspect of the program is

that students are encouraged
to communicate directly

with Globe scientist to better
understand the importance

and impact of their data.

Another important aspect is that
the information you collect can

and does make a difference to
understanding our world around us.

[Dr. Teresa Kennedy:] More
than a million students

in over fourteen thousand schools
have joined the GLOBE effort

and the numbers are growing.

Want to join the effort?

For more information
go to our website

back to you Jennifer.

[Jennifer:] Thanks
Dianne and Teresa.

Well guys that wraps up
another episode of NASA Connect.

Students don't forget
to check out the website

for this program's web activities
and the student challenge.

Hey that a question, comment
or suggestion then e-mail them


So until next time
stay connected to math,

science, technology and NASA.

Au revoir.