Review by Max (Earth Sciences)
In order to gain a solid understanding of our planet, we must look to our neighbours. Conversely, we may only learn about other planets using what we have learned from our own. However you look at it, the NASA website is a brilliant resource. The varied body of content it includes is unrivalled. Unlike many other resources on Staircase 12, the fact that it is a website gives it the advantage that it is being constantly updated, and so whatever the current affair is in planetary science, from missions to Mars to exoplanet discoveries, you will be able to keep up with it. Not only that, the more visual and interactive nature of the site means that it allows you to more easily picture unimaginably vast objects.
It’s very important to remember that NASA doesn’t just focus on outer space, too. For instance, NASA’s work on climate allows you to look at real time data across the globe: for instance, at the time of writing the concentration of carbon monoxide at 18 000 feet above Oxford is 97 parts per billion by volume. It also offers citizen science initiatives, meaning you have a chance to make a meaningful contribution to humanity’s collective scientific knowledge without having to leave the sofa. For instance, you could be searching through the WISE survey’s data looking for evidence of a ninth planet.
To wrap up, I believe the NASA website is both an engaging and relevant source of information that complements the Earth Sciences course at the University of Oxford well. Though it may not seem the most obvious source of information, information obtained from space has led to significant advances in the Earth sciences. After all, some of the most primitive material in the Solar System lies out there, helping us to construct the story of our planet’s origins, piece by piece.
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Published: 19 January 2022