Earth Science from Space: Our "Blue Marble" and the BIG PICTURE

Earth Science from Space: Our "Blue Marble" and the BIG PICTURE

1 graduate credit
Instructor: Dr. A. Frederick (Fritz) Hasler
Research Meteorologist Emeritus: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Adjunct Professor, Meteorology, University of Utah

This course will demonstrate to teachers how our Earth, our "Blue Marble": fits into the Universe, The Milky Way Galaxy, and the Solar System. It will show the teacher how it takes observations from space to understand our planet as a whole. The basics of space born remote sensing will be explained. The most illuminating and spectacular visualizations of global weather, climate, fires, ocean currents, and long-term degradation of our planet will be shown. The implications of planetary degradation will be discussed. The teacher will learn how to convey this message to students and parents and help students use Internet sites and the course material to make their own presentations.

Instructor Bio

Dr. Arthur F (Fritz) Hasler

Dr. Arthur F (Fritz) Hasler, has studied at the Universities of Wisconsin and Munich Germany earning a B. S. in Applied Math & Engineering Physics, as well as MS and Ph.D. degrees in Meteorology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He spent most of his 40-year professional career at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center after terms at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder and the Laboratoire de Meteorologie Dynamique in Paris. He as also spent considerable time at the DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen Germany and in Salt Lake City on assignment during the 2002 Olympics. He retired from NASA in April of 2005 and is now a NASA Emeritus Scientist and Adjunct Professor at the University of Utah. Dr. Hasler's research has involved estimation of winds using satellite imagery. He has written 45 scientific papers describing his research. In recent years Hasler has been primarily involved in visualization for scientific analysis and public outreach and production of HDTV movies. Dr. Hasler is famous for his visualization of severe weather events that have appeared in scientific and popular literature and on television such as ABC, NBC, CBS, CBC, THE WEATHER CHANNEL, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC & French TV, as well as on the covers of National Geographic, TIME, Popular Science, Newsweek, Der Spiegel, the Weekly Reader, and in the TIME/LIFE Collection of Great Photographs of the 20th Century. He has developed the NASA/NOAA Earth Science (E)lectronic Theater and has taken it on tour across US, Europe, South Africa, Australia/New Zealand, SE Asia, and Japan. Dr. Hasler has received numerous honors and awards including the NASA/GSFC Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, NASA Exceptional Service Medal, Excellence in Outreach Award, and the 2005 AIAA Barry Goldwater Award for public outreach. The award, won the previous year by presidential candidate John McCain was presented to him by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. He retired from NASA in 2005. In retirement he holds the titles of NASA Emeritus Research Scientist, and Adjunct Professor at the University of Utah. He continues to present the Etheater across the US and around the world. He has recently written three graduate level on-line courses on Earth Science from Space, Evidence of Global Warming from Space, and Solutions to Global Warming. Hasler speaks German, French, and Spanish.

Dr. Arthur F Hasler
NASA GSFC Emeritus Scientist
University of Utah Adjunct Professor
PSIA Certified Alpine Ski Instructor

Course Syllabus


This course will show the 8-12 teacher how our Earth, our “Blue Marble: fits into the Universe, The Milky Way Galaxy, and the Solar System. It will show the teacher how it takes observations from space to understand our planet as a whole. The basics of space born remote sensing will be explained. The most illuminating and spectacular visualizations of global weather, climate, fires, ocean currents, and long-term degradation of our planet will be shown. The implications of planetary degradation will be discussed. The teacher will learn how to convey this message to students and parents and help students use Internet sites and the course material make their own presentations.


1. Gain a perspective of our planet as a whole.
2. Learn the basics of remote sensing of the Earth.
3. Learn how to detect changes in the Earth as a function of time and space.
4. Explore the consequences of environmental degradation of the Planet.


The Adams State College Graduate Studies in Education has adopted a Teacher As A Reflective Decision Make Model and the Wisconsin Standards for Teacher Development and Licensure, as known as INTASC (Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium) Standards. Each course is designed to contribute to the development of one or more of the WI/INTASC Standards and if applicable, IRA and/or ISLLC Standards.

Franciscan values permeate the program. The focus of every professional education course is on the learning of the PK-12 pupil. Viterbo education courses infuse constructivist practices, use of technology, PK-12 collaboration, awareness of diversity, traditional and authentic assessment, research and real-world experiences into the professional development of the teacher.


All of the INTASC Standards are infused in this course at some level. The first, fourth, seventh, and ninth standards are focused on in this course.:

1st: The teacher understands the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline(s) he or she teaches and can create learning experiences that make these aspects of subject matter meaningful for students.

2nd: The teacher understands how children and youth learn and develop and can provide learning opportunities that support their intellectual, social and personal development.

4th: The teacher understands and uses a variety of instructional strategies to encourage the students' development of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance skills.

7th: The teacher plans and manages instruction based upon knowledge of subject matter, students, the community, and curriculum goals.

10th: A teacher communicates and interacts with parents/guardians, families, school colleagues, and the community to support the students' learning and well-being.


Lecture 1 Introduction

Space observations of Earth’s daily, annual, and long-term cycles/changes will be shown. Spectacular global patterns of weather fronts, hurricanes/typhoons, dust storms, ocean currents, and diurnal warming of the Earth’s deserts etc. will be illustrated on a 24 hr to 10-day basis. The incredible greening of the northern landmasses, variations in snow cover and blooming of phytoplankton in the ocean upwelling regions will be shown on an annual basis. Global fires resulting from the growth of biomass and following drying during drought periods will be explained through observations of vegetation color changes, direct observation of the fires, and observation of carbon monoxide produced by the fires. Long-term changes like environmental degradation, (e.g. deforestation); lake level changes, and glacier retreat will be shown. Hypothetical effects of sea level change due to global warming will also be illustrated.

Lecture 2 How do we get perspective? (How do we get the BIG PICTURE?)

What can be observed from low earth, geosynchronous, and L1 orbits? From Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) a full Earth disk can be observed at intervals as short as once every 30 seconds: This allows micro-scale to global-scale meteorological observations with the current international GEO system that covers the whole Earth well except for the poles. Low Earth Orbit (LEO) platforms cover the entire Earth equally well with observations once every 24 hrs. These lower altitude platforms allow the highest high possible resolution through the entire electromagnetic spectrum. L1 orbit: A fully illuminated view of the full Earth disk can be made on a continuous basis from L1 orbit.

Lecture 3 Earth Observation Remote Sensing Tools & Change-Detection.

What can be observed in different bands of the electromagnetic spectrum, from ultraviolet through visible, near infrared, infrared & passive/active microwave? How can laser altimetry answer important questions about global warming? Observations of chlorophyll are made in the ultra violet and visible spectrum. Observations of vegetation and minerals are made using in the visible and near infrared. Observations of clouds weather, wave height, wind speed & fires are made in the visible, thermal -infrared and microwave spectrum. Observations of weather, ice, & snow using passive and active (radar) microwave radiation. Observation of Antarctic, Greenland, and low latitude glacier thickness are made using laser altimetry.

Astronomers use “blink comparators” to discover planets, comets, meteors etc. from “before & after” photographs of the night sky. The “blink comparator” technique is modernized using Microsoft PowerPoint to observe changes in Earth observations. Some examples include: Disasters (Tsunamis, Hurricanes): before & after, lights out over the NE US during a giant power blackout. Lake-level changes, desertification, and seasonal changes in vegetation, snow/ice and shadows in the Rocky Mountains are shown.

Lecture 4 Space Observations of Environmental Degradation

Observations of Deforestation, Desertification (Desert size increase, Vegetation stress, Lake level drop) and Urban Sprawl will be shown. Observations of Global Warming (Antarctic & Greenland glacier reduction, North Polar Sea and Antarctic Ocean pack ice thinning & reduction. Lower latitude glacier retreat, sea temperature and level rise, coral bleaching) will also be illustrated.

Lecture 5 Our Beautiful Blue Marble & What’s the alternative if we ruin it?

See the most beautiful pictures/movies of our whole planet: How do you make a global full Earth image/movie: a) from Apollo 17, b) from geosynchronous orbit, c) from a mosaic of low earth orbit images. “We’ve looked at Earth from both sides now”. The implications of environmental degradation through deforestation, desertification, and global warming etc. will be discussed. Can we leave this planet if we ruin it? Can we go to Mars, or will we be trapped like the prehistoric residents of Easter Island who degraded their environment and starved to death because escaping the island was not an option.

At the end of each lecture, students will complete a ten-question assessment on the knowledge they have acquired from the lesson. They will also create an Earth Science Electronic Theater presentation that can be shown to students and large assemblies of students, parents or the general public if they have access to a modern computer and video projection equipment. Assignments will be submitted to the Instructor via the Internet by the last day of the six-week period.


The course will be provided at the student’s convenience via on-line during a six-week period with opportunities to share and discuss ideas with the Instructor.


There is no textbook required for this course.


You will need to utilize either Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox Web Browsers. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version to include important security updates.

Graduate Credit

1 graduate credit
Adams State College tuition: $55

Graduate level credit is provided through Adams State College. The Department of Teacher Education at Adams State College is accredited nationally by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) and has program authorization from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE).

To be eligible to receive credit, students must do the following:

  1. Pay the online course fee by purchasing a course activation code on this web site (
  2. Pay the tuition fee by registering as a student on the web site. Pay tuition by visiting the Adams State College registration form.
  3. Complete the online course at a satisfactory level of assessment, according to the completion requirements outlined by the instructor on the course syllabus.

It does not matter in what order the two payments are performed.

Registering for credit from Adams State College is optional.

Course Dates

Students are given a 2-month period in which to finish each course. Courses are offered continually throughout the year. Each enrollment period starts on the 1st of the month and ends two months later. Enrollment periods are listed below.

Students can enroll in a current enrollment period anytime between the 1st through the 10th of the month. Enrollments submitted after the 10th of the month will be moved to the next enrollment period.

For example, if a student registers for a class on January 2nd, he/she will be enrolled in the Jan.–Feb. enrollment period. If a student registers for a class January 11th, he/she will be enrolled in the Feb.–Mar. enrollment period.

Students moved to the next enrollment period will have to wait until the 1st day of the month to obtain access to their course.

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SKU SCED589-V103
ASC Tuition 55.00
Online course fee: $140.00
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