In Australia, it looks like Monet¿s Water Lilies seen through a rain-splashed window; in Alaska, it¿s the vivid fire and ice of a Santana album cover. "It" is the Earth, and this NASA-sponsored site showcases snapshots of our Mother Planet not just from a scientific perspective, but from an aesthetic one. Often, satellite photos of Earth, although fascinating, can be a bit dull (they don¿t call them "earth tones" for nothing). Here, however, wavelengths of light captured by the Landsat-7 satellite¿but invisible to the human eye¿are assigned false colors, bringing these images to life in resplendent rainbow hues.
PBS Voyage of the Odyssey
Call you Ishmael as you set sail with PBS aboard the Odyssey for a five-year jaunt around the globe, studying whales and fish in order to come up with a bill of health for the world¿s oceans. The project is helmed by Ocean Alliance, a society of whale conservationists, and with the use of high-tech cameras and rovers, they¿ve set up a stunning interactive classroom in which students can, among other things, listen to sound files of sperm whales and video-teleconference with the ship¿s crew. The site is meticulously curated and includes a photo gallery of the Odyssey¿s findings, a real-time map to track the craft¿s progress and regular audio dispatches by an on-board scientist.
Biodiversity Hot Spots
"The most remarkable places on Earth are also the most threatened." Thus begins Conservation International¿s introduction to the world¿s biodiversity hotspots, so-named for the wealth of unique species they house. Click on any of the 25 locales on the site¿s interactive map and you will be whisked away to one of the planet¿s last living edens. Visit the island nation of Madagascar, home to lemurs and thousands of other species found nowhere else on earth. Or journey to the Brazilian Cerrado, land of the jaguar, the giant armadillo and the giant anteater. Vital stats on each hotspot are provided in brief format, followed by links to more detailed information. The flora and fauna described here are intoxicating¿but their proximity to extinction is sobering indeed.
NOAA Ocean Explorer
Poseidon, beware: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is determined to penetrate every minnow hideout and barnacle cluster of your realm, and with technology this advanced, there¿s no stopping this league of swashbuckling scientists. Ocean Explorer is full of buried treasure: Visit the Aquarius Habitat, the world¿s only undersea laboratory; inspect submarine volcanoes in the western Pacific; and observe rare whale species off Puerto Rico. All these explorations are presented in rich multimedia formats. A history of marine exploration will get rusty oceanographers up to speed before setting sail, and the massive library will keep those yet to get their sea legs well occupied with documents and lesson plans on the seemingly endless research into the deep blue yonder.
Global Volcanism Program
The Smithsonian Institution¿s Global Volcanism Program seeks to document the eruptions of all volcanoes, great and small, over the past 10,000 years. The site includes a database of individual volcanoes all over the world, searchable by such criteria as location, name, latitude/longitude and time frame. Pick up some fascinating volcanic trivia (Did you know the median eruption time for most volcanoes is about seven weeks?); get detailed ongoing reports on the status of live volcanoes; or use the site¿s handy tool to find out which volcanoes were erupting during any month of any year.
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