The world once waited months, sometimes years for explorers to return home before learning of their fantasitc discoveries. But today ‘Dr. Livingstone is in our Livingroom’s’, streaming real-time footage from the field straight to our browser of choice.
Experts offer a direct gateway to their world and beyond (as with this month’s NASA Mission to Mars) through interactive media broadcast via the web. This provides ‘armchair explorers’ with an opportunity to experience the thrill of discovering new worlds from their livingroom.
This month we invite you to go on expedition with the experts, join a mission to Mars or unearth some ancient mystery – the freedom to explore is yours!
Expeditions Worth Watching…
NASA’s 2012 Mars Mission: With Mars looming ever larger in front of it, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft and its Curiosity rover are in the final stages of preparing for entry, descent and landing on the Red Planet at 10:31 p.m. PDT Aug. 5 (1:31 a.m. EDT Aug. 6).
The mission has been designed to use radio relays via Mars orbiters as the principal means of communication between Curiosity and the Deep Space Network of antennas on Earth. Truly an expedition for everyone, with extensive coverage of the mission posted on their website (photos, video, science insights) and a social campaign to share every step of this historical event, so you can connect with ‘Curiosity’ through Twitter and Facebook.
The overarching science goal of the mission is to assess whether the landing area has ever had or still has environmen- tal conditions favorable to microbial life, both its habitability and its preservation.
From Mars to Mongolia…
National Geographic’s Field Expedition Mongolia: The Valley of the Khans Project is a nondestructive archaeological survey utilizing modern digital tools from a variety of disciplines, including digital imagery, computer vision, nondestructive surveying, and on-site digital archaeology.
The goal of the search is to identify archaeological sites without disturbing them–in the area of Mongolia’s most sacred heritage–Genghis Khan’s homeland. This maintains respect and reverence for local customs while enabling protective measures through organizations such as UNESCO.
With the growing trend of rogue illegal mining in the region, such protective measures will be critical in the preservation of this iconic symbol of world cultural heritage and the rich cultural patrimony throughout Mongolia.
This project is the ultimate immersive experience for ‘armchair explorer’s’, as not only can you follow the action in the field but you can assist the experts aswell.
By engaging the public in a collaborative effort scientists are asing us to study satellite images and identifying the features we see. Given the vast landmass this project covers, the team would struggle to search the entire area themselves, so our help is invaluable.
Besides project participation the website offers an overview of fascinating historical facts and behind-the-science secrets.
And for Junior Explorers…
Global SchoolNet’s Online Expeditions: Students are encouraged to learn about history and the living world by joining real-time expeditions to remote and fascinating locations around the globe. You can observe daily progress, read field dispatches and interact with real world adventurers through intriguing dialogue as they re-enact history—or even make history!
Global SchoolNet provides the curriculum resources, online activities, and facilitates interactions between students, teachers and explorers for numerous expeditions and virtual field trips. Below are their current featured partner expeditions.
BLUE ZONES: Join Dan Buettner and his team on their quest for the Fountain of Youth, observe as they unlock the secrets of longevity and learn skills for healthy living.
EXPLORER KIDS: Emmy awarded Jeffrey Lehmann takes you to scenic destinations throughout the world in the Weekend Explorer television series.
SITES ALIVE: Join Rick Wilson as the S/V Concordia sails to fascinating ports-of-call around the world with a crew of high school students.
So you see, ‘adventure can begin at home’ with virtual expeditions offering a portal of discovery to our world and beyond. We are no-longer bound by the limitations of location – technology and expert guides, give us the means to explore and grow our knowldege and intrest in the world.

Inga Yandell
Explorer and media producer, passionate about nature, culture and travel. Combining science and conservation with investigative journalism to provide resources and opportunities for creative exploration.