NASA’s GLOBE Program: What’s It About? – Head GLOBE NASA Scientist Dr. Marie Robles Shares Her Thoughts

Jose Carlos Serrano

The GLOBE Program, invented back in 1995, courtesy of NASA, was created for one sole purpose: encouraging worldwide activities such as implementing the concepts of conservation and the environment. Today, the program has amassed a great global following, proving successful in its goal to encourage many to invest and learn about these crucial topics. I myself was fortunate enough to be connected with Dr. Marile Robles, the GLOBE Clouds Science Lead at NASA’s Langley Research Center. Dr. Robles offered her most perspective and enlightening analysis of what she believes to be the main goal of the program and what it means to thousands of people around the world; as well as her own journey to exploring these relevant topics coming to the US mainland from Puerto Rico. 

“[The Globe Program] is a way for anybody to be able to do science about their environment,” Robles says. “It was assigned by teachers and scientists together so that the steps that are needed to be followed are done in research. It is NASA’s biggest and longest lasting citizen science program about the Earth. We keep an eye on the data and NASA scientists are involved in different aspects. At Langley, we match every possible cloud collection to satellite data and send out emails. Satellites are not perfect and we need observations.” 

Dr. Robles continues on to emphasize the cultural impact on the GLOBE program as well, considering the fact that it is a global phenomenon.

“The GLOBE program allows you to connect with people and how similar you are to people that you think are different,” Robles said. “[The program has run for] 26 years. Students meet once a year usually before COVID and exchange pins, wave flags, wear native clothing and be able to meet up with each other.” 

After hearing more about the program itself, one might be curious about how to actually join the program and also how to encourage others to do so, which Dr. Robles addresses accordingly. 

“Spread the word, start in your home, people you live with, start a club at school [such as weather clubs, register them]. Just talk about it, write about it, report about it. In a way that shows what other people can do.” 

In addition, Robles addresses the fact that similar to GLOBE there are “many programs” and that GLOBE is “one of many programs”, explaining how there are so many ways to involve yourself in conservation and the environment. These programs focus on so many important things to conserve our planet as Dr. Robles notes, explaining how we need to “keep monitoring things” and the importance of citizen scientists because a cloud that originated in the United States for example, could travel to England perhaps, making it difficult to locate where poor air quality originates from – hence why the program seeks global support.

More in terms of Dr. Robles’ journey to the position that she’s in now, we hear a good amount of how she came to the US mainland from Puerto Rico and the struggles that it entailed. Robles tells us this to show that no matter your current circumstances, or wherever you are now, it is still possible to follow and pursue something that you really feel like can make a difference in this world. When asked about her experience in Puerto Rico and eventually working at Langley.

“It was hard,” Robles said. “In Puerto Rico, Spanish is the main language and my family made me learn English through TV or talking, [it was difficult] coming to the States with everything all in English. I got my masters in the States and then worked at NASA. My head was hurting because of translating [the two languages] and the climate was a lot different.” 

Robles also mentions the great amount of support in the States as well how it’s cultural diversity was of assistance as well. 

“[There was a lot of] support, I made a lot of friends,” Robles said. “There were lots of Puerto Ricans at Langley. I found a way to make plantains and rice and beans, a lot of people had the [same or similar cultural aspects.]” 

Dr. Marile Robles is one of the key reasons that our planet might have a safer and better future. Trying to encourage people to learn about our environment, learning about other cultures, and more, is what makes not only her work but also the GLOBE program’s work so crucial and important today in this current age where the future of Earth is in limbo.