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Space Mission Lets Kids Take Photos of Earth from Outer Space

Sally Ride offers students the chance to take photos of Earth from outer space
Photograph by Getty Images/iStockphoto

Well, this is pretty cool.

Sally Ride EarthKAM will be holding their annual kids' space mission between November 4 and November 7, during which middle school students and teachers can sign up to see views of the Earth from outer space. The NASA-run program not only gives kids a unique perspective on the world we live in, by viewing it from inside their classroom, but it also lets them take and request snapshots of Earth from NASA's remote camera.

Here's how it works, according to Sally Ride Science: "During the mission, students at participating middle schools log in to the EarthKAM website and request images based on their classroom investigations. Their requests are processed at the Sally RideEarthKAM Mission Operations Center, located at UCSD and modeled after NASA’s Mission Control Center at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. A staff consisting of UCSD undergraduate students and Sally RideEarthKAM advisors supports and maintains the MOC. Following a mission, students and teachers return to the EarthKAM website to view and download images."

Dr. Tam O’Shaughnessy, CEO and cofounder of Sally Ride Science, shared that looking at images of the Earth was one of astronaut Sally Ride's favorite things to do, which is a big part of why the program exists in the first place.

"When Sally Ride became the first American woman to soar into space, one of her favorite things to do was to float over to a window on the space shuttle and look down on Earth. She was amazed by the view of our beautiful blue planet wrapped in its thin blanket of air. Sally wanted to share that view with young people all over the world," said Dr. O’Shaughnessy. "In 1995, she came up with the idea of putting a camera on the space shuttle so that students could snap images of different places on Earth, a program that eventually became the Sally Ride EarthKAM."

Want to register your students, or pass the word on to your child's teacher? You can register for the program now over on EarthKAM.ucsd.edu.

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