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To get young students reading about science, NASA is trying something different. Instead of a press release or a scientific paper, the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission has launched a Japanese manga-style comic book. GPM, a satellite collaboration between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, provides global estimates of rain and snow every three hours using advanced instruments.
In spring 2013, a GPM Anime Challenge was held for artists from around the world aged 13 years and up to develop an anime-themed character for teaching students about the GPM mission. The lead characters in the anime project were selected from more than 40 submissions by a panel of NASA scientists and outreach specialists. The grand prize winners were “GPM” by Yuki Kiriga of Tokyo, Japan and “Mizu-chan” by Sabrynne Buchholz of Hudson, Colorado.
With the lead characters selected, the GPM team crafted a story that wove together the science and engineering of the mission in bringing GPM from development to launch and ultimately to its orbit around Earth, and hired an artist to bring the story to life with artwork. Supplemental materials to support the text include an overview of the GPM mission, a description of the satellite and its instruments, examples of the data it collects, descriptions of some of the constellation partners, and a glossary of science terms used in the comic.
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