How You Get NASA to Contact You

By Dr. Mauri Pelto

Recently NASA Earth Observatory posted an article based entirely on some of my research. How did this happen? Twice a week I post an article on specific changes of a glacier somewhere in the world. The changes are identified primarily in Landsat satellite images. Landsat is a NASA satellite. On February 9, I posted an article of changes of an ice cap that has not been the focus of research to date,theĀ Sierra de Sangra Range ice cap which is located along the Chile-Argentina boundary. I examined the changes of four glaciers from 1986 when all four terminated in lakes to 2015 when three had retreated out of the lakes they had formerly ended in.

After posting the article, I sent out an initial tweet that had a hashtag for #Landsat that caught their attention. Kathryn Hansen, a NASA science writer at the Goddard Space Flight Center, expressed an interest in following up on this post with an article of their own using higher resolution images from the same date. This prompted them to ask for more detail on why I focused on these glaciers and why they were important. I responded to that email within 24 hours, as well as the next two follow up emails. This is standard practice for me with media inquiries: rapid response. The organizations know they can count on you and then will feel free to follow up in the future. This is the third time in the last two years NASA has done this with my work, each time leading to some sort of featured article on their website, each time it has been featured in a different portion of their website. Of course when NASA GSFC announces the article in social media, they have a much larger bullhorn for people to hear.

The first step was completing a blog post containing enough information that is visually compelling and has an important narrative on climate change’s impacts on a glacier. The second step was using Twitter to push the message; the article received 122 tweets or retweets spreading the word. Finally, theĀ third step was following up quickly on inquiries from NASA.


Comparison of four outlet glaciers of Sierra de Sangra in Argentina in a 1986 and 2015 Landsat image. Read arrow is the 1986 terminus location when all terminated in a lake. By 2015 only one terminates in a lake, yellow arrows.










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