NASA Wavelength is transitioning to a new location on Jan. 30, 2019, read notice »

Studying Precipitation from Space

Created by Dorian Janney Last updated 3/2/2016

This list has many educational resources to use to teach how NASA is able to study precipitation using satellites.

  • GPM Technology and Instrumentation: LEGO Model

    This site features information about constructing a LEGO model of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Mission Core Observatory. Two options for building the GPM model are provided: students can construct a 3D model on the LEGO website or build an actual LEGO model of the satellite (information is provided for purchasing individual parts or for purchasing a pre-packaged kit). In addition to learning about the primary components of the GPM satellite, students will also learn facts about the mission, its technology and instrumentation - See more at:
    AAAS Benchmarks: 3A/M2
  • GPM: Too Little, Too Much

    This short video (4:44) helps audiences understand and appreciate the importance of measuring precipitation globally. The role of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission to better understand, model and predict where and when too much rainfall will occur (resulting in floods and landslides) and where too little rain will fall (resulting in droughts) is examined. - See more at:
    AAAS Benchmarks: 3A/M2, 4B/M7
  • Our Wet, Wide World Video

    This short video (4:06) provides an overview of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission. This mission will set a new standard for precipitation measurements from space by joining forces with countries around the world, to provide precipitation data from nine different satellites, creating the GPM Constellation. NASA has partnered with the Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency (JAXA), space agencies in France and India, and the operators of meteorological satellites in Europe and the United States to make this multi-nation mission possible. - See more at:
    AAAS Benchmarks: 3A/M2, 4B/M7
  • GPM Core Observatory Paper Model

    This activity allows participants to build a paper model of the GPM Core Observatory and learn about the technology the satellite uses to measure precipitation from space. Directions explain how to cut, fold and glue the individual pieces together to make the model. The accompanying information sheet has details about the systems in the satellite including the Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR), the GPM Microwave Imager (GMI), the High Gain Antenna, avionics and star trackers, propulsion system and solar array, as well as a math connection and additional engineering challenges. - See more at:
  • The Data Downpour

    The Global Precipitation Mission (GPM) collects rain, snow and other precipitation data worldwide every three hours. This short (4:17 minute) video introduces learners to the role of GPM and it's partner satellites in gathering precipitation data and the role of Goddard's Precipitation Processing System (PPS) in compiling that data into unified global data sets. - See more at:
    AAAS Benchmarks: 1C/M6, 3A/M2, 4B/M7
  • Anatomy of a Raindrop

    This short video (~2 minutes) explains how a raindrop falls through the atmosphere and why a more accurate look at raindrops can improve estimates of global precipitation. This information is important to scientists working on the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission - understanding the micro world of raindrops provides insight to scientists about the macro world of storms - See more at:
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4D/M8
  • SciJinks: Gallery of Earth-Observing Satellites

    This gallery includes a wide variety of photos and illustrations of the Earth-observing satellite constellation. SciJinks is a joint NASA/NOAA educational website targeting middle school-aged children and their educators. It explores weather and Earth science through articles, videos, images, and games. - See more at:
    AAAS Benchmarks: 3A/M2
  • Creativity in Science

    This lesson examines the different roles scientists play in discoveries. Students will research various satellites and their uses. In addition, they will explore the different careers associated with the development of satellites, as well as, the technology used to communicate the scientific discoveries from those satellites. This is one of several activities available in the Swift: Eyes through Time collection on the Teachers' Domain website. - See more at:
    AAAS Benchmarks: 1C/M1, 1C/E3
  • Three New Satellites: Suomi NPP, JPSS, and GOES-R

    This module guides students through some relatively new satellite meteorology satellites. It is part of an online course for grades 7-12 in satellite meteorology, which includes 10 modules with numerous interactives. The site also includes lesson plans developed by teachers and links to related resources. Each module is designed to serve as a stand-alone lesson, however, a sequential approach is recommended. Designed to challenge students through the end of 12th grade, middle school teachers and students may choose to skim or skip a few sections. - See more at:
    AAAS Benchmarks: 3A/M2
  • Climate Kids: What Else Do We Need To Find Out?

    NASA scientists, using several NASA Earth observing satellites, continue to seek answers to questions related to climate change. Several of those questions, focused on such topics as the effect of clouds and aerosols, and the role of the sun's cycles and the carbon cycle, are included in this article. Images of the respective satellites involved in the research are shown. This article is part of the Climate Kids website, a NASA education resource featuring articles, videos, images and games focused on the science of climate change. - See more at:
    AAAS Benchmarks: 1A/E2, 1B/M1b, 4B/E5
  • SciJinks: What Good are the GOES?

    This video offers a broad overview of the GOES missions, and the important role they have in monitoring weather. SciJinks is a joint NASA/NOAA educational website targeting middle school-aged children and their educators. It explores weather and Earth science through articles, videos, images, and games. - See more at:
    AAAS Benchmarks: 3A/M2
  • Principles in Remote Sensing: Earth Observations from Satellites

    n this self-paced, interactive tutorial, learners become familiar with basic concepts related to remote sensing of the Earth by satellites. Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) and Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, as well as different types of onboard sensors, are examined for their applicability to various real-world data collection and research applications. This resource is part of the tutorial series, Satellite Observations in Science Education, and is the first of three modules in the tutorial, Principles in Remote Sensing. - See more at:
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4F/M8, 4A/H3