Yesterday, social media network came alive with reports about a pending tsunami heading toward Hawaii. (Yes, I see the typo below. Sigh.)
Scientists predicted the waters would arrive at 11:19 a.m, after traveling 6000 miles from Chile’s earthquake. Their predictions proved correct. To the minute. From the comfort of my home in the D.C. region, I watched the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands via Skype cameras — along with 80,000 fellow citizens of Planet Earth.
What an amazing experience. Computer on my lap. Fox news on the TV. Tweets cascading so quickly I could barely read them — prayers, well-wishes, requests for more info, snarks about how newscasters didn’t know the difference between a tidal wave and a tsunami.
We watched and waited. And waited and watched. We tweeted info, shared tidbits, and…we waited. I expected to see a wall of water like the 2004 tsunami that followed the Indian Ocean earthquake. But think about it. Scientists predicted ocean swells. We watched it live. How amazing, really!
What made it all possible? Space!
Concerned citizens of one planet connected through space.
Without the space program, I would never have watched the water rise and fall on the shores of Hilo Bay in Hawaii — no matter how small the waves appeared. I wouldn’t have heard about the Chilean earthquake until Monday, had I not seen reports on Twitter.
We’re connected to each other because we launched satellites into orbit high above our planet, that bounce data back and forth and back again. We have astronauts 220 miles over our heads traveling 17,500 mph around the Earth every 90 minutes who keep an eye on Earth from their unique vantage point. We can now communicate with them in real time via Twitter, as well. Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi is prolific in posting twitpics of Earth with pithy comments about what he sees — like this one of Chile after the earthquake.
When I think about how amazingly connected we are across the globe, I feel proud to see my NASA badge hanging by the front door. We’ve helped transform Earth into a space-faring, interconnected planet. Pretty cool, I think.
So, here’s my last screengrab of the third wave on Hilo Bay. Maybe you see the shoreline changes from the pic above — if you look closely. Thankfully, the water seemed tame, maximum 6-foot ocillations in sea swells. Soon after this pic, they cancelled the tsunami warning. I logged off U-stream and went about my business.
Thank you space pioneers: your off-planet work makes our on-planet connections possible.