NASA SEES program

High School students assist NASA scientists with mosquito habitat study
31 August 2020
NASA SEES Summer intern program
Credit: NASA/TSCG/CSR

This summer, several high school students have been participating in NASA's Student Enhancement in Earth and Space Science (SEES) summer internship hosted by The University of Texas at Austin's Center for Space Research. Due to COVID-19, programs held on campus were cancelled, but many activities continued off campus - including the Mosquito Mappers, a SEES team co-sponsored by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) under the NASA Earth Science Education Collaborative project.

Sponsored by NASA's Texas Space Grant Consortium, this program selected students to work with scientists and engineers led by GLOBE Observer scientist Dr. Russanne Low of IGES. The students conducted their research using NASA data and analysis tools, and received instruction on safety procedures, mosquito ecology and habitat, larva identification, land cover classification and satellite data analysis. Each intern devoted 10 to 15 hours a week in June and July - participating in weekly data explorations, developing and implementing a research design, and collaborating with NASA subject matter experts.

Mosquitoes cause millions of cases of disease in humans every year, but seasonal habitat monitoring can provide early warning of potential disease outbreaks. Using the GLOBE Observer citizen science app and a microscope that clips onto a mobile device, the Mosquito Mappers reported actual and potential mosquito habitats. Paired with satellite observations of temperature, water and vegetation, these data can support scientists forecasting a community's risk of mosquito-borne disease.

Along with the Mosquito Mappers program, SEES sponsored several team challenges this summer, including designing Mars habitats, exploring lunar environments, and tracing COVID-19 using NASA technologies. Teams are organized around an aerospace or space science theme drawn from NASA's diverse engineering and scientific research programs.

Through the SEES program, interns have the unique opportunity to work with professional scientists and engineers at the cutting edge of NASA science, experience being part of a science team, and explore STEM career options firsthand.

NASA offers several STEM resources for students, including at-home activities.

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