What?  NASA wants to make Earth Day about space?

Not at all, NASA is instead asking the public to vote for the most important contribution the space agency has made to exploring and understanding Earth and improving the way we live on our home planet.  That's right, they call this our home planet, which means there may be a vacation planet on the way.  That's thinking big, people.

Since the beginning of the space age, NASA has been at the forefront of using Earth orbit to get a better view of how weather systems develop. And now the world is a safer place to live in when it comes to dangerous weather. It has been decades since a hurricane or tropical cyclone has gone undetected before it struck land. NASA helped to build and launch an armada of orbiting sensors (more are in the works) that detect a growing number of factors that drive the world's weather. The result: seven-day forecasts have vastly improved over the past three decades. 

And now we can see it all -- green plants large and small, on land and on the sea, all over the globe. Ecology is now a truly worldwide undertaking, thanks to NASA's pioneering work in developing space-based instruments that can measure the greenness of chlorophyll in plants. We can track widespread changes in ecosystems, like the increasing growing season in the far north and the rise and fall of ocean algae and fisheries associated with El Nino events. And we can see how big a part ecosystems play in the ongoing cycling of carbon dioxide in and out of the atmosphere.

NASA storm spotting hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina, 2005, NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission.  CLICK IMAGE TO GO TO VOTING PAGE (or at the bottom of the article too)

A 2008 National Research Council study identified major accomplishments resulting from Earth observations made from space. The report, Earth Observations from Space: The First 50 Years of Scientific Achievements, cataloged scientific discoveries and practical applications, including many that resulted from NASA missions, made possible from satellite observations.   NASA has selected 10 candidates highlighted in the study for consideration as the greatest achievements about planet Earth. The options include diagnosing Earth's ozone layer, predicting food shortages and tracking ecosystems worldwide. Visitors to the online polling site will be able to cast their votes for up to three candidate accomplishments. 

NASA is conducting the survey as part of its celebration of Earth Day, April 22. Voting begins today, and closes on April 21. Poll results will be announced on NASA's Web site on Earth Day. 

To cast your votes, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/earthday/greatest_hits.html