Ocean Surface Topography (Jason-1, OSTM/Jason-2, and Jason-3)



The goals of Ocean Surface Topography E/PO are to develop and promote opportunities, materials, and activities that improve the public’s understanding of global ocean circulation and the link between the ocean and climate, in support of the science goals of JPL’s ocean surface topography missions. We also use our E/PO activities to strongly support and improve public, ocean and climate literacy by promoting the Essential Principals developed by the Ocean and Climate Literacy Networks (http://oceanliteracy.wp2.coexploration.org/ and http://cleanet.org/cln/index.html).

Concurrently, as we support the science goals of the OST missions, our education goals are based on NASA’s education goals to:

  1. Strengthen NASA and the Nation’s future workforce;
  2. Attract and retain students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines; and
  3. Engage Americans in NASA’s mission.

By conducting our E/PO within the context of a larger JPL ocean surface topography program (Jason-1, OSTM, Jason-3, and SWOT) and under the umbrella of the JPL Earth Science Public Engagement Office, we are able to support thematic approaches to oceanography and Earth science outreach. Through collaborations with other JPL Earth science missions, outside ocean education organizations, and the larger NASA Earth science E/PO community, all of which share our interest in improving STEM education, we can combine increasingly limited outreach funds to reach larger and broader audiences.

A large part of our focus is on engaging the public in NASA’s mission. We do this through informal education and public outreach activities that are designed solely to increase public awareness of NASA’s use of satellites to study the global ocean; how our missions increase the scientific understanding of ocean processes and the ocean’s role in climate; and to inspire individuals (especially young students) to believe that they have a role in increasing our understanding of Earth’s global ocean and in the solving global problems that may arise from changes in the ocean.

Making use of the strengths and expertise of our partners and collaborators, joint activities are evaluated through outside, professional evaluators who use up-to-date evaluation tools and methods to give us some evidence of the impact of joint activities.

The OST outreach lead developed and led the implementation of JPL Climate Day, an event first held in 2008, which is designed to bring scientists and students together in a fun and educational atmosphere, where the latest scientific facts about global climate change are presented; students and their teachers are informed about the critical role NASA spacecraft and scientists play in our current and future understanding of the Earth system, global climate, and the ocean’s role in climate; and are empowered with knowledge about the part they as individuals play in climate and what they can do to promote sustainable living and environmental responsibility. Since 2010, we have held the event annually at the Pasadena Convention Center, reaching more than 1200 middle school students each year using science lectures, exhibits, and hands-on activities. Each year we have used the feedback from previous year attendees to improve the educator- and student-participants' experience.

Each year we tailor 5-6 unique JPL visit/tours for K-12, Community College, and University classes. Many of the teachers/professors make the JPL visit an annual event that is included as an integral part of the curriculum. Unlike a general tour, these visits usually include one or more science talks where the latest JPL/NASA Oceanography/Climate/Earth science is discussed.

Lead Organizations

Jet Propulsion Laboratory 




As the Jason missions are joint with France and other European countries, we have a long-time international collaboration with the education department of the French Space Agency (CNES). We have implemented the French Argonautica Education Program in 3 schools in the U.S. We have worked with CNES to translate EPO products produced in French by CNES and/or its partners to English and have worked with them to translate several JPL-developed OST mission products into French., We have collaborated on many workshop and symposia publications, and annually do at least one collaborative presentation for the OST Science Team meeting.

Since 2005, we have had a very fruitful collaboration with the UCLA/USC Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence-West. Each year, we have contributed content, scientists, and facilities for one in their series of public lectures and associated educator workshops. We also host at JPL one day of their week-long Ocean Observing Systems Summer Educator Institute.

COSEE-West is also a primary partner in JPL's Climate Day event, bringing their ocean education expertise to the development and leading of hands-on activities. Since 2004 we have partnered with the Satellite Educators Association (SEA) to bring a pre-conference JPL tour to their annual Satellites and Education conference. The JPL tour has become an important and popular part of the conference activities, and is a useful program for conference participants involved in the Multinational Youth Studying Practical Applications of Climate Events (MYSPACE) program. The program is part of the conference and the middle- and high-school participants gain valuable information from the JPL visit, which they include in their required, group presentation at the end of the conference.

The OST outreach lead plays a significant role in the thematic activities of the JPL Earth Public Engagement team and has led the development and implementation of several of the team's projects.

The OST EPO team also actively participates in "Know Your Earth", the NASA-wide Earth Science EPO collaborative developed by the EPO personnel of operating missions involved in the Senior Review process. One or more Jason missions has participated each year since the project began.



Effectiveness and Impact

Evaluation findings and impact statements:

We use the internal and external evaluators of our partners and collaborators, e.g. COSEE-West, NASA Museum Alliance, JPL Solar System Ambassadors, to give insight into the impacts of our joint activities.

Informal surveys and feedback, including exit interviews, emails, and testimonials of participants is also used for program evaluation purposes.