Help NASA By Taking Cloud Photos

NASA has a great opportunity for you if you like to look at clouds and take photos. Citizen scientists on the ground are needed to take photos of the sky help them corroborate satellite information. NASA’s Marilé Colón Robles, head of the GLOBE clouds team, said, “Looking at what an observer recorded as clouds and looking at their surface observations really helps us better understand the images that were matched from the satellite.”

The photos submitted will be used to check the data coming from the six satellites forming the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) project. Scientists at Langley use these satellites to study climate change. The CERES FM6 satellite was launched in November and started functioning in January.

NASA needs to make sure that the data from its satellites is accurate during the changing of the seasons. The changing seasons between winter and summer sparks some very interesting cloud activity. The problem is that the CERES instruments have difficulty differentiating thin, wispy cirrus clouds from snow on the ground. Photos from the ground by the public will be compared to the imagery from the satellites to make sure the instruments are correctly identifying clouds.

You don’t have to be an expert in clouds to take part in “The Citizen Science Cloud Observation Challenge”. The photos are uploaded using the GLOBE Observer app. The app is available on both iOS and Android.

There are instructions that must be followed to upload pictures. First, you must make sure that the satellites are over the area of the sky you are planning to photograph by checking the app. The app will ask you to input information about sky color, visibility, and the type of cloud you are seeing. You must wait for 10 to 15 minutes before taking and submitting another photo.

Up to 10 photos per day can be posted by each volunteer until April 15th. The person with the most valuable observations will receive recognition from a NASA scientist in a video. Everyone else will get an email from NASA which will show the image shot from the ground and the comparable one that was captured by the satellite from above.

This is not the first time NASA has turned to citizen scientists for help. Citizen scientists previously used raw data from NASA’s Juno probe to make some incredible looking images of Jupiter.