Why Citizen Science?
As we were planning our family activities this summer, working on a citizen science project was not part of the original plan. Life has a funny way of guiding you to where you need to be.
My brother has been a GLOBE partner thru Oregon State University and is involved as a lead researcher in the NASA sponsored GLOBE Program for the past few years. He has brought me in a few times to take a look at what he has been working on to make sure he is staying true to his vision of learning the story of the land. This is a huge task as there are billions of satellite pixels with a story to tell and he wants to know it all! This is where citizen science projects comes in.
With the help of NASA and GLOBE Program software engineers, the Globe Observer suite of apps have been created to collect data from the ground to compare to images taken from satellites. There is a current campaign in South America to track cloud cover and temperature during the Solar Eclipse in that area on July 2, 2019. Cloud Observations, Land Cover observations, Mosquito Habitat Mappers, and Tree Height are the other data points that researchers are wanting to inform their satellite observations. Again, this is a LOT of information that can be overwhelming for the average citizen.
To help make this quest for information seem less overwhelming and more achievable, challenges are launched for various periods of time. Some challenges are short - the temperature and cloud observations during the Solar Eclipse, July 2, 2019; while others are a bit longer - the Mosquito Habitat Mapper that is happening in Oklahoma June 15 - October 30, 2019 or the GO On A Trail campaign that is happening along the Lewis & Clark National Historical Trail June 1 - September 2, 2019.
Using any of the GLOBE Observer apps is a straight forward process. Each requires the citizen scientist to document some initial observations of their area based on standards used by researchers. Once these initial observations are made, pictures are taken documenting the 6 cardinal directions (North, South, East, West, Up, Down). The Land Cover app allows you to go a step further and classify what you see using standard protocols that the researchers are also using. Once your have made your observations, collected your evidence, and classified your findings (if you are taking that step), submit your observations to the database. Researchers watch the data collected on the other end and use that information to further their research.