Earth Moves. NASA Measures.

Mother Earth just seems to be quaking from the inside out. Doesn’t she? We’re still reeling from the Haiti quake and Chile get pummeled with an Earthquake 500 times stronger. Now we find out this week’s 8.8 earthquake in Chile may have

shortened each Earth day by about 1.26 microseconds.

Furthermore, the quake may have

shifted Earth’s axis by by 2.7 milliarcseconds — or three inches.

I don’t know about you, but that’s just freaky and amazing to me. Freaky that an earthquake can shake the world off it’s foundation and amazing that we can measure it — thanks to our space program.

Earth as Blue Marble. Credit:NASA

Earth as Blue Marble. Credit:NASA

After spending time at the International Space University Symposium, “The Public Face of Space,” I’m still processing all the “why space” conversations. The general public-at-large, though positive about contributions from a half century of global investments, doesn’t really get what space has to do with their lives.

We haven’t told our space story in a way that connects YOU to space in a personal, intimate way. We haven’t engaged you in a way that you can’t imagine your life without space. Instead of bringing space home to you, we’ve pushed it farther away — untouchable, unachievable, only for the Right Stuff guys/gals who get to strap themselves onto a rocket to blast-off our planet’s surface. Does that about sum it up?

Many think we’ve made space boring, as you can see in the SpaceUp presentation. I can’t disagree, but I can only offer you the world as I see it through my starry-eyed space spectacles (my Hubble contact lenses). Here’s what I see:

Space isn’t about who or what gets to ‘go’ outside Earth’s boundaries, but rather how my life is affected by the discoveries we bring back home to Earth.

And this one little NASA/JPL press release about a shorter Earth day and 3-inch change to the Earth’s axis just really brings home the point — space is part of who we are as citizens of this planet in 2011.

Our eyes on this planet — robotic and human — give us data to make informed decisions from crop management to disaster planning to global warming to sustainability challenges.

Geological Safari: Crater Highlands, East Africa

Geological Safari: Crater Highlands, East Africa

What can I say. I’m biased. But you could be too. Just put on my starry-eyed glasses for a while and look around. You might discover some amazing things about how space touches you personally.

NASA's Interactive program to find space in your life.

NASA Home and City program.

I leave you with Carole King’s I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet.


Filed under Earth, environment, federal government, leadership, NASA

3 responses to “Earth Moves. NASA Measures.

  1. Anonymous

    Other than employing Richard Gross, how did our space program contribute to this non-peer reviewed shorter day/shifting axis finding? I think the measurements used (magnitude, epicenter, etc.) came from the USGS — not the space program…

  2. Fabulous post. I think more people would get engaged with the space program if they had more of an understanding of the tangible connection to their everyday lives. For instance: polarized lenses on sunglasses, the bike helmet that protects our heads, computer technology, the medicine a family member uses, or the ability to identify and monitor a Tsunami. I wanted to share my personal story about how I started to reconnect with the Space program. (And I’m Jane Q Citizen- I’m not a scientist, engineer nor medical researcher but I love science.)

    First of all, I am old enough to actually remember watching the news feeds of the Moonwalk. I know that we wouldn’t have the half the technology or medical advances we have now if it weren’t for the space program.

    Fast forward from 1969 moonwalk to today. I am the mother of a four-year-old boy. He is insanely curious about space, planets and astronauts. What is fascinating to me is that he doesn’t just ask questions about spacecraft, he asks “what do the astronauts do up there? and “what do all the people at mission control do? and “what are these telescopes and satellites looking for?” and “how do they decide the name for a new star?” So we started watching NASA TV, and we starting looking at all the resources around education and science that NASA provides on their various sites. I started following NASA, and the Astros on Twitter. I show him the beautiful photos that the Astros tweet. When I learned that Johnson Space Center was organizing a tweetup I applied, got randomly selected and flew down on my own dime. I came back and told my son about all the things I had learned that day. It is exciting for me to have something like this to share with him. We’re going on vacation to Kennedy Space Center in a few weeks. It is quite possible that I am more excited than he is.

    • bethbeck

      What a wonderful story! I’m so excited that you’ve caught the space bug. Everyone tells me the JSC tweet-up was amazing. I was at the ISU conference in Strasbourg that week. Next time. I hope you’re going down for the launch. 🙂

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