Blog | February 10, 2014, 16:31 PST

Food for scientific thought

By Laura Faye Tenenbaum

A nutritionally correct GPM model. 

A nutritionally correct GPM model.

NASA’s new Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory is slated to launch later this month, so when I first got wind of instructions for making an edible model of the GPM satellite, my interest was piqued. This blog is supposed to be about connecting to regular people, I thought, so I’ll make an edible model, take a photo of it, eat it and then write about it. Sounds awesome, right? I went about hunting down the instructions and found them here.

GPM with marshmallows, pretzels, frosting, and graham crackers
As you can see from the photo, the example in the instructions is made of marshmallows, pretzels, frosting and graham crackers. At the risk of sounding like a sanctimonious health snob from California, I don’t buy or eat foods containing artificial ingredients or empty calories. To me, junk food is cloyingly sweet, nasty and yuck! I wondered whether parents would endorse this type of food. If we are to appreciate the role of NASA satellites in understanding Earth’s climate, we also have to appreciate our role in responding to scientific information. Our choices about what we buy, what we put in our mouths and what we teach our children have global consequences.

The instructions for making the model said that they were suggestions, which to me meant that I could make an edible model of NASA’s new GPM satellite with whatever ingredients I wanted. So I decided to make a model that I would actually be willing to eat without wasting any food. You can decide for yourselves if it looks nasty, scary or yummy. My family and I ended up eating all of it, and I was surprised by how much I learned about the instrument by having to look at it so carefully.

I encourage you to get creative and make your own edible model of NASA’s new GPM satellite with whatever foods you see fit and to voice your fair and honest opinions in the comments.


P.S. Here are my GPM model ingredients: The dual-frequency precipitation radar is mashed potato; the avionics and propulsion module is turkey walnut meatloaf decorated with kale; the microwave imager is yam, cucumber and orange; the high gain antenna is cherry tomato; and the solar array is made of seaweed. Some of the vegetables were harvested from my own organic garden.

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