Map Quest

Heidi Henson of Yankton’s Mead Cultural Education Center is shown with the Observation Station sign that will be posted at the Mead as part of an effort by NASA and The Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail to better map the western portion of the trail. 

The past is meeting the future at the Mead Cultural Education Center.

This summer, Yankton’s Mead Cultural Education Center, in partnership with the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail and NASA’s Globe Program, invite you to “Go on a Trail” and improve satellite mapping accuracy by photographing it for science.

“We are a partner with the historic trail,” said Heidi Henson, marketing and programming coordinator with the Mead. “They oversee the history of the trail. In fact, this year they added almost 3,000 more miles to the Lewis & Clark Trail from St. Louis back east. They try to get locations along the trail to be partners with them.”

This year, each of these partner locations will receive an Observation Station sign. Trail visitors are being encouraged to take photos of all four cardinal points from that location with the GLOBE Observer app.

This summer’s challenge is to get photos, which are being called observations, through Sept. 2, from as many of the Observation Stations along the trail as possible. For each photo, participants receive points towards a prize.

Yankton’s Mead Cultural Education Center is a designated Observation Station along the trail.

“So, if you come here to the Mead, we’ll have the Observation Sign outside and you’ll take a picture of that, because it’s got to be in one of your photos. You get four points for that,” Henson said. “If you take observations near the designated point, you get two points. If you take it anywhere else, you still get a point.”

The photos will allow scientists to see the groundcover to better understand how satellites measure trees, for example. This gives NASA a better understanding how particular objects look in the landscape across the United States for the purpose of better mapping

“One thing that they discovered, and the reason that they are partnering with the trail, is that there’s not many locations that are registered along the trail going out west; It’s mostly down south,” Henson said. “So they thought it would be a great partnership to get people in the outdoors, get them on the trail, get them traveling and visiting these locations, taking pictures and uploading data.”

Eventually, NASA and trail historians may be able to use the collected data to see how the terrain has changed since Lewis and Clark first encountered it on their expedition.

“Even though this is primarily for the Lewis & Clark Trail, they are encouraging people to visit anything,” Henson said. “So if you are out at the lake or down at a park or out in the hills, you can use this app and upload your data. The Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail will get information from NASA, as to who used it along the trail, and depending on how many points you accumulate, you can get a prize package at the end. They haven’t said what it is, but it’s supposed to be a pretty nice prize package for whoever accumulates the most points at the end.”

The app can be used to continue to help NASA after the September challenge deadlineand any time of year.

It has three modes:

• GLOBE Land Cover, which will be used to make observations along the trail.

• GLOBE Clouds is used to photograph cloud cover for comparison with the NASA’s satellite observations.

• and GLOBE Mosquito Habitat Mapper uses the observation photos to identify mosquito habitats and the various larvae to reduce mosquito-borne disease.

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