Satellites, Open Data and Climate Change: The Citizen Science Approach


Presenting at the International Space Development Conference (ISDC), St. Louis, USA

The International Space Development Conference (ISDC) was held from 26-29 May 2017 in St. Louis, USA. The ISDC is the annual flagship event of the National Space Society (NSSS) and is  held in a different city every year.

This was my third ISDC event. I have presented previously at the ISDC 2016 (Puerto Rico)and in ISDC 2015 (Toronto) on topics relating to climate change, open data, and 3D printing.

ISDC has a friendly format with lots of plenary and parallel sessions on wide ranging space issues. It makes it possible to attend sessions of one’s interest, and learn about newer space initiatives.

This year I was invited to give 2 presentations and conduct a workshop for middle school students. The first presentation was under the track “Many Roads to Space” and was titled : Making Sense of Data from Space: The Citizen Science Approach. 

The presentation was based on my several years of experience of using satellite data from various NASA Satellites (LandSat, Terra Modis, Terra Aqua) as well as Canadian Satellites (RadarSat-2) for projects relating to climate change, disaster management, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  It also built on my NASA Space Apps Toronto challenge winning project – Drop the Drought  which uses open data from satellites to predict climate change induced droughts and possible migration patterns.

Analysing open data from space and mapping it on ground becomes very important to mitigate climate change related effects and help humans and livestock adapt to the changes.

The second presentation one was Building Together on Space, Science and Technology, and focused on newer ways to impart education and skills to the younger generation, so that they can become creators rather than just consumers of information and technology.


Workshop conducted on gathering and using space data

The workshop was attended by over 55 international students and focused on gathering and using space data. The students learnt more about how to gather space data and examples of projects where they could use the data to get new insights.


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