Eye in the Sky 1

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Recommended Citation

"Eye in the Sky 1", pegasus, January 01, 1994, https://nautilus.org/pegasus/eye-in-the-sky-1/

Teacher Orientation Activity Guides

Expedition 1: Eye in the Sky

Students interpret images of Tokyo Bay and San Francisco Bay from space and make maps that show key geographic features.


Images of urban areas taken from space give us a new perspective on issues such as land use, topography and patterns of human activity. The process of interpreting images becomes a detective game. What do I see? What does it mean? What can I learn? As students gain competence at interpreting satellite and space shuttle images, they also develop an understanding of such disciplines as geography, Earth science, hydrology, and environmental change. They begin to see in new ways. In this activity, students use remotely sensed images to construct maps of Tokyo and San Francisco Bay.



  1. Introduce the activity and divide the class into small groups of 2 to 4 students. Assign the image of Tokyo Bay to half the group and the image of San Francisco Bay to the remainder of the groups.
  2. Provide adequate time for the teams to access Virtual Expeditions and construct maps based on the image. If possible, provide students with regional maps and/or print atlases to help them identify features they find in the images from space.
  3. After the groups have completed their maps, post them in the classroom for a group walkaround. Then, facilitate a class debriefing on the activity.
    • What did you learn about interpreting images of Earth from space?
    • What did you learn about map making? What would you do differently next time?
    • What factors contributed to the development of a major urban center around the bay?
    • What factors make an urban bay vulnerable to water pollution?
    • How can we compare and contrast the geography of the two bays? What features do they share in common? What features are unique?


  • Astronauts-Eye View. Select one of the additional images at the bottom of each page for further interpretation and map making.
  • Local Color. Surf the web to find a satellite or space shuttle view of your region for interpretation.

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