During the summer of 2021, in-person camps finally resumed as did the GLOBE Goes to Camp Pilot ​​an activity under the NASA Earth Science Education Collaborative (NESEC) SciAct award. Eleven camps from eleven states across the U.S. participated in the summer pilot. Over 45 camp directors, staff and facilitators participated in one of six GLOBE protocol trainings that were provided to ensure proper data collection techniques. Monthly meetings with the camp directors provided the opportunity to share lessons learned, ask questions, and begin to develop a network of GLOBE Camps. Through a series of NASA SME connections, campers were able to interact with NASA scientists, learn about their various missions, share the data they were collecting, and learn from other campers. The excitement was evident as the campers recognized the fact that they were actually connecting with and contributing to NASA and the GLOBE Community. The satellite match emails brought a sense of authentication and excitement to the camps’ efforts, as a “cool” factor that campers were able to share with their families. Across the eleven camps, over 2000 campers were engaged in an authentic NASA GLOBE data collection experience. All-in-all, it was truly a “NASAtastic experience for all” as Amy Ellisor from Camp Discovery was often heard to say.

The 2021 Earth System Explorers virtual internship connected 96 high school interns with the exciting science of applying NASA Earth observations to the global health threat of mosquito vector-borne diseases. The project engaged participants in 120 to 150 hours of research and an opportunity to work closely with NASA SME mentors. Spread over 8 weeks @ approximately 15 hrs/week this flexible internship accommodated summer jobs and family responsibilities. Participants experienced field research, using remotely sensed data, computer science, and data analysis while contributing to the scientific understanding of mosquito ecology, human health, and land cover classification. Interns accessed and analyzed data using online tools such as the GLOBE Advanced Data Access Tool, Collect Earth Online, AppEARS, NASA Worldview, Climate Engine, Google Earth Engine, and ArcGIS Online. Data products and research outcomes resulting from the Earth System Explorers team will be the basis of a co-authored peer-reviewed research paper, an individual or team poster submission to AGU Bright STaRS, and student research projects submitted to the 2022 GLOBE International Virtual Science Symposium (IVSS). The SEES Earth System Explorers internship is led by the NASA Earth Science Education Collaboration in collaboration with the University of Texas Space Grant SEES Internship.

A badge showing a graphical representation of mosquito habitats on a landscape with the words Mosquito Habitat Photo Challenge 2021
Between July 25 and August 25, the NESEC-led GLOBE Observer team held the Mosquito Habitat Photo Challenge, which asked volunteers to collect concurrent observations of mosquito habitats and land cover. Given the complexity of the data collection request, we created seven new support products and a new email initiative. New products included an activity tracker (in English, Spanish, and Chinese) with activities that encourage learning about the science or skills required for data collection (575 downloads), a handout showing how to photograph mosquito larvae (495 downloads), a data dashboard dynamically showing data submitted during the challenge (12,541 views), a guide showing how to take concurrent land cover and mosquito habitat observations (120 downloads), a badge (42 downloads), a participation certificate (110 downloads), and a certificate for those who submitted data (66 downloads). All products were hosted on the Mosquito Habitat Photo Challenge page on the GLOBE Observer website. As part of the new email initiative with the goal of supporting users, we sent weekly email updates to participants in the GLOBE Mission Mosquito campaign, the GLOBE U.S. Partners Forum, Trees Around the GLOBE campaign, and posted on GLOBE social media, GLOBE Observer news, and to users who opted in to receive communication from us. Those who opted in to receive communication and submitted data (49 people) also received a special certificate at the conclusion of the challenge. Web statistics indicate that most people who received the special certificate (hosted on a hidden URL) downloaded it, while the general participation certificate was only downloaded by 110 users, indicating that email communication is highly effective even though the reach for this challenge was small.
MHPC Partner Webinar Screenshot
Between July 25 and August 25, the NESEC-led GLOBE Observer team held the Mosquito Habitat Photo Challenge, which asked volunteers to collect concurrent observations of mosquito habitats and land cover. During this challenge, the team made a concerted effort to engage partners who could support volunteers in their communities. NESEC distributed clip-on cell phone microscopes to 15 partner organizations to support their participation in the challenge and in GLOBE in the future. Many of these partners held events or other activities to support volunteers. The Los Angeles Public Library translated the challenge activity tracker into Spanish and Chinese to better engage their communities and held a public webinar. Australia’s National Science Agency (CSIRO), Alabama Water Watch, the Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP), the Midwest Center for Vector-Borne Disease and NASA’s Science Activation Program all hosted webinars about the challenge. The San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District held an Instagram Live event with Autumn Burdick, GLOBE Observer communications lead. The Smoky Mountain STEM Collaborative included the challenge as part of an event called GLOBE in the Park. La Salle Public Library in Illinois recruited and trained a small number of very active volunteers, and the NASA STEM Enhancement in Earth Science (SEES) interns were among the top data contributors. NESEC will continue to cultivate these partnerships to enable ongoing community-based implementation of GLOBE with GLOBE Observer.
A sample of the nearly 500 mosquito larvae photos submitted through GLOBE Observer during the Mosquito Habitat Photo Challenge. The image is a screenshot from the challenge wrap up video available at https://youtu.be/EHpxFoxgHEY
Between July 25 and August 25, the NESEC-led GLOBE Observer team held the Mosquito Habitat Photo Challenge, which asked volunteers to collect concurrent observations of mosquito habitats and land cover. The goal for holding the challenge was to generate data, specifically photos, to support newly funded work in artificial intelligence/machine learning. The challenge resulted in an increased rate of data collection and brought in new users, which should increase data volume going forward. 1,825 observations were submitted from 31 countries with the most observations coming from Thailand (62%), the United States (27%), and India (3%). These observations included more than 6,200 photographs, including 489 photographs of mosquito larvae, more than 1,300 water habitats and 4,500 photographs of land cover around potential mosquito habitats. 516 people submitted land cover or mosquito habitat data during the challenge period, and among these, nearly half contributed more than one observation. People who submitted mosquito data were more likely to contribute multiple observations. 1,895 new GLOBE Observer accounts were created during the challenge with peaks in activity occurring during major communication events on July 23 (NASA Reddit AMA and Instagram story) and August 20 (NASA Earth Instagram Reel and World Mosquito Day social media posts).
Between July 25 and August 25, GLOBE Observer held the Mosquito Habitat Photo Challenge, which asked volunteers to collect observations of mosquito habitats and land cover. Communication efforts for the challenge reached 2.5 million people. Highlights include a Reddit AMA (reached 64.2k), NASA Instagram/Facebook story (1.4 million), an Instagram Reel on NASA Earth Instagram (141.6k), two videos on NASA Earth Facebook here and here (also shared on NASA Earth Twitter) (236.6k), a Twitter thread on NASA Earth (54.5k), and a NASA Earth Facebook post for World Mosquito Day (141.7k).
The NESEC-led GLOBE Mission Mosquito campaign partnered with the American Philosophical Society to present an interactive webinar exploring their virtual lesson, “A Malignant Tale.” The lesson focuses on Philadelphia’s 1793 yellow fever epidemic (a vector-borne disease). Participants learned the details of how Caspar Wistar Haines and his family experienced the city-wide epidemic. Through letters, they discovered the role of the Free African Society in taking care of Philadelphians during this time of need and the sacrifices they made. Participants made connections between the 1793 epidemic and today, via these personal stories, the roles of essential workers, and the history of science and medicine. The lesson is available here. Ali Rospond, Museum Education Coordinator, American Philosophical Society wrote a blog for the GLOBE Mission Mosquito website about the 1793 yellow fever epidemic.

The NASA Earth Science Education Collaborative (NESEC) team supported the GLOBE Annual Meeting with 6 hour-long training sessions (Introduction to the GLOBE Observer app, and protocols including Clouds, Tree Height, Land Cover, and Mosquito Habitat Mapper); 7 community sessions (12 minutes each plus Q&A), 2 workshops, 5 posters, participation in the education working group, and moderating 3 GLOBE networking sessions. For one community session on welcoming new partners to GLOBE, the NESEC team created a video of interviews with out-of-school partners who talked about why they participate in GLOBE and how they are implementing GLOBE in a camp, National Park, public library, with families and as lifelong learners.  Student Showcase presentations included presentations of research projects mentored by NESEC team members.


On May 21 and 22, the NESEC-led GLOBE Observer team provided strong support to NASA’s inaugural citizen science event, CitSciCon. Five team members and three GLOBE Observer volunteer participants presented in five sessions (NASA Citizen [email protected] School; CitSci Lifelong Learning; NASA Citizen Science Near You; What comes after participation in a NASA citizen science project; Leading Discovery, Volunteers in their own Voices). GLOBE Observer was also a component of a partner presentation on the Fresh Eyes on River Ice project, which uses the GLOBE Observer app to monitor river ice, and Greatest Hits of NASA CitSci Discoveries. The GLOBE Observer team supported the event planning and promoted the event heavily through the GLOBE Program’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and the GLOBE Observer website. 5,000 people registered for the event, and 2,200 unique IP addresses tuned in. The event recordings are archived on the SciStarter YouTube channel.


On April 22, 2021, GLOBE Observer published a peer-reviewed paper, “GLOBE Observer and the GO on a Trail Data Challenge: A Citizen Science Approach to Generating a Global Land Cover Land Use Reference Dataset” in Frontiers in Climate. The paper defines GLOBE Observer land cover data collection and quality assurance methods. Authors include members of the NESEC GLOBE Observer team, partners at the National Park Service and Geoscience Australia, and volunteer participants who collected significant amounts of data during the 2019 GO on a Trail data challenge.


The NASA GLOBE Clouds team is working with NASA scientist Dr. Bill Smith, LaRC, to use GLOBE Cloud observations made by NASA interns to solve the terminator problem. The Solar Terminator or twilight zone is that line that separates the daylit side of a planet from the dark night side and can be a challenge for satellite algorithms to detect. From March 15 – April 16 Angela Rizzi, LaRC, and Marilé Colón Robles, LaRC, facilitated the Solar Terminator Intern Cloud Challenge. The challenge engaged interns across NASA in making “terminator” cloud observations using the GLOBE Observer app. These observations were made up to an hour after sunrise and within the hour before sunset. The Solar Terminator data will be used this summer by Dr. Smith and a NASA intern to try to improve cloud detection algorithms. Information about the related science was provided in five blogs. In addition, there was a closing webinar, Stay Connected to NASA through Citizen Science, which featured Jessica Taylor, LaRC, and Marc Kushner, HQ. The intern team collected over 200 observations including 157 terminator observations.

Image of student researcher

A research paper has been published in the Journal of Emerging Investigators by a student who participated in the summer 2020 Mosquito Mappers Virtual Internship cohort.  Dr. Rusty Low, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), led this project. The Virtual Mosquito Mappers were part of the 2020 STEM Enhancement in Earth Science program. High school student Kavita Kar’s paper titled The Effect of Poverty on Mosquito-borne Illness Across the United States seeks to determine the characteristics that make some communities more susceptible to diseases than others. Kar hypothesized that low-income communities are more vulnerable to mosquito-borne diseases. To test this hypothesis, she identified and studied characteristics that make communities susceptible to mosquito-borne diseases, including water in square miles, average temperature, population, population density, and poverty rates per county. Kar used regression analysis to understand the relationship between the above variables and the total number of mosquito-borne disease cases.

Presentation slide for the first live session.

Girl Scouts of the USA partnered with SciStarter to help girl scouts around the country complete their “Take Action for the Planet” projects focused on our climate. The GLOBE Observer app is one of four platforms recommended for participants to gather environmental observations. Four virtual sessions were organized to lead participants through their project development. The first session featured NASA GLOBE Clouds science lead, Marilé Colón Robles, as one of three guest speakers. Marilé presented to over 600 girl scouts about clouds and satellite comparisons to Terra, Aqua, CALIPSO, and geostationary satellites. The session was a way to inspire girl scouts to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through the opportunity to interact with female scientist role models.

Lead presentation slide showing co-presenters Marilé Colón Robles, Dr. Russanne Low, and Brian Campbell

Marile Colon Robles (NASA Langley Research Center), Dr. Russanne Low, (Institute for Global Environmental Strategies) and Brian Campbell (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) co-presented, “Transitions in Citizen Science with the GLOBE Program during a Global Pandemic: Shifting Gears from Data Collection to Data Literacy” at the 2021 American Philosophical Society’s “The Promise and Pitfalls of Citizen Science Symposium.” The presentation featured a discussion on the NASA GLOBE Observer app for citizen science, highlighting the comparison of the space-based and ground-based observations, focusing on the four protocol observations (Clouds, Mosquito Habitats, Land Cover, and Trees) and the lessons learned in citizen science during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This symposium, according to the American Philosophical Society, “…reflects the work of Benjamin Franklin and others who lacked formal training and whose work sometimes went unacknowledged but whose contributions significantly added to the advancement of knowledge. It hopes to expand upon the theme of the exhibition by exploring understandings of citizen science over time, placing historical initiatives in conversation with present day projects as well as reflecting on the future needs and opportunities of the movement.”


Dr. Russanne Low, science lead for GLOBE Observer Mosquito Habitat Mapper, conducted two online sessions (March 24 and April 2) as part of the Malaria Vector Surveillance Workshop, led by the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative VectorLink Ethiopia Project. 50 Ethiopian mosquito health professionals completed the virtual training, offered as part of two 8-day workshops held in Addis Ababa. The Mosquito Habitat Mapper and Land Cover tools in the GLOBE Observer app provide the capability for the professionals to collect and archive field data necessary to conduct surveillance identifying Anopheles stephensi, a new invasive malaria vector in Africa. This mosquito distinguishes itself from other malaria vectors because it is the first one identified in Africa that uses manufactured containers as breeding sites. As a result, new mosquito surveillance and mitigation strategies are needed by public health units, and GLOBE Observer is one tool being employed. NSF-funded research collaborators from University of South Florida (NSF Grant #2014547) are providing 200 clip-on microscopes for use with the Mosquito Habitat Mapper data collection to workshop participants.

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