Earth Day turns 50: NASA throws an online celebration

Learn how NASA helps the environment by creating green tech and documenting climate change, interact with astronauts, get at-home science activities, and more during the virtual Earth Day event.

The Internet of Wild Things: Technology and the battle against biodiversity loss and climate change

NASA takes the adage "make the world a better place" literally. The agency has made many contributions to sustaining and improving the planet and, in honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on Wednesday, April 22, it will offer a week of online events, stories, and resources. 

Because of the continuing coronavirus pandemic, there won't be any in-person NASA activities for Earth Day. Thanks to technology, NASA will bring people together for a virtual Earth Day celebration with new content and activities, as well as an extensive array of at-home projects in the #EarthDayAtHome collection, which debuts Thursday, April 16.

NASA began celebrating Earth Day's half-century on March 3, with a "50-Day Countdown" of daily social media posts which highlighted many of NASA's earth images and environmental projects, and posted on an updated daily blog on NASA's Earth Day website. On the site, it features a toolkit of activities for students and families. As most school-age children are currently "attending" online/virtual school, the daily activities on the Earth Day website dovetails nicely with students' curriculum. 

SEE: Earth Day 2020 (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Look for special content through April 22 on:

NASA's Earth Day activities

Thursday, April 16
The Earth Day collection includes at-home science activities, videos from earth and space, downloadable posters, social media engagement, and more, many available in both English and Spanish. 

A lecture on "How NASA observes Earth from air and orbit" will be available to watch live from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, part of a monthly Karman lecture livestream. Thursday's lecture will be how NASA monitors global change from space and from closer to the ground, with aircraft boats and buoys. The lecture will be delivered via video conference, with speakers joining remotely from home. Watch on YouTube at 10 p.m. ET. Questions can be submitted through YouTube's chat feature.

Wednesday, April 22
The Earth Day episode "NASA Science Live" broadcast features NASA experts discussing how NASA science and tech are used to understand and improve the environment. It will explore discoveries about the planet, advances in green technology and aircraft, and introduce an interactive app for viewers to assist NASA map coral reefs worldwide. It airs at 3 p.m. ET on NASA TVYouTube PremiumFacebook's Watch Party and Periscope/Twitter

SEE: The Internet of Wild Things: Technology and the battle against biodiversity loss and climate change (cover story PDF) (TechRepublic)

Other Earth Day highlights

  • Earth Science Video Talks: A series of short videos on a wide range of topics that will be posted on YouTube, on NASA's Science Mission Directorate

  • Live Q&A with astronaut Chris Cassidy: Cassidy will answer questions from social media starting at 12:10 p.m. ET for the questions to be answered live from the orbiting International Space Station.

  • Tumblr Answer Time: Sandra Cauffman, acting director of NASA's Earth Science Division, and Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, will go live on NASA's blog to answer questions, with the videos released from 1 to 2 p.m. on NASA's Tumblr blog.

  • Instagram Takeover with Astronaut Jessica Meir: Meir, in collaboration with Instagram, created a series of short videos from the International Space Station about the science done on the station and how it relates back to Earth. Find the videos on Instagram.

In addition to documenting Earth's climate change, NASA has created green technologies to save energy and natural resources, with the goal of helping everyone to live more sustainably and adapt to natural and human-caused changes. 

Also see

Earth day and environmental protection

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto