Geography: NASA’s Earth Observatory

This assignment is intended to introduce you to a useful website that contains information connected with all four of Geography’s areas of study.  The assignment is also intended as an opportunity for practicing your critical thinking and writing skills.


  1. Explore NASA’s Earth Observatory website at .The amount of time you should spend exploring this website is approximately one hour. Do not substitute another website for this one.
  2. Select ONE of the areas of study (not major subdivisions or core themes) in geography, which are described on pp. 18-19, to cover for your assignment—also see Figure 1.16 on p 18, which provides the names of the four areas of study, as well as depicting which chapters in the textbook are linked to which areas of study, and how each area of study is linked to the other three areas of study and the primary tools and techniques used in geographical research.
  3. Next, select three complete articles from the website (look under the Features tab for full articles, which are listed by theme under links to the right) that mostly closely fit the tradition that you have selected. (Reminder:  Information on the four areas of study, as well as Tools and Techniques of Geographic Analysis can be found on pp. 18-19 of the textbook, and are depicted in Figure 1.16 on p. 18).
  4. After reading three complete articles related to your selected area of study, or tools and techniques, that you have chosen, you are ready to begin writing a 2-3 page report. Follow the format presented below CAREFULLY.
  5. Your 2-3 page report must be written in essay style (i.e., Introduction, main body that includes three paragraphs that discuss the findings related in each of the articles, and a discussion/conclusion), and must include the following, to be considered for credit:
    1. Introduction: provide 1) the name of the area of study, or tool(s) or technique(s) in geography that you have selected, and then provide a brief description of what types of research fall within that particular area of study, then 2) provide the names of the three articles that you chose which fit into that tradition, including the names of the author(s). You need to also provide a list of references in Chicago of Style author, date parenthetical style that includes the three selected articles, as well as any outside references that you cite in your report (additional references are not required, but you can use them, as long as they are relevant to the topic covered).
    1. Main Arguments: 3) Discuss each of the articles selected, describing at least three things that you learned from each article (Please do not just provide a laundry list: i.e., “the three things that I learned from this article are…)—integrate it into your discussion of the article). Also, briefly explain why you think each article provides an illustration of the area of study or tool/technique of geographic analysis that you selected.
    1. 4) A conclusion that wraps up your discussion of the selected area of study and articles that you selected to represent it, as well as your overall opinion of the website that you selected the articles from, especially concerning its use as an educational tool.
    1. 5) a list of references, including the articles discussed in your paper, as well as any additional references cited in your paper.
  6. Your report should be at least one-and-a-half pages in length, typed in 12 pt font, double or 1.5 spaced, and no longer than three pages.
  7. If you want to qualify for the maximum points associated with this report, it must be turned in on or before the DUE DATE listed on the Course Schedule (last page of syllabus) and at the top of this page.  Assignments not turned in by this date will lose five points per day that they are late, up to a total of 40 points, after which time, they will no longer be accepted.

Points will be awarded for how well you address each of the four items listed in 4, above. A maximum of 50 points will also be awarded, out of the total 200 points, for the demonstration of good writing skills, which include correct grammar, proper spelling and punctuation, and good organization.  Make use of your word processor’s spell and grammar checkers.  Please check the Grading Rubric for the Written Assignment under this folder to see how points are tabulated for this assignment.

Maximum total points: 200.

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