The ozone monitoring garden is full of plants that scientists have found to be ozone-sensitive. When exposed to high levels of ozone, each of these plants shows damage on their leaves. Older leaves have the most damage. Plants with ozone damage have very fine colored spots on the upper surfaces of their leaves, and some leaves also turn yellow. Ozone sensitive plants growing in the garden include cutleaf coneflower, cardinal flower, flowering dogwood, and black-eyed susan. All of these species are fairly common and easy to grow, so can serve well for educational gardens.
Students, teachers, and public visitors to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center can learn and teach about atmospheric chemistry and public health with the garden, and can learn about setting up their own ozone monitoring programs.
Most people know somebody who has asthma or some kind of sensitivity to polluted air. Air quality is an issue that concerns everyone from lawmakers, to farmers, to families. One of the primary components of air quality is the amount of ozone found in the air we breathe (troposphere). While ozone in the upper atmosphere (stratosphere) protects life from harmful ultraviolet radiation, ozone in the lower atmosphere (troposphere) is a pollutant that damages plants and human lung tissue. NASA scientists study the health of our atmosphere through the use of the Aura. This program will describe and explain ozone chemistry, NASA's Aura satellite, and plant biological response to ozone. Students will learn how to recognize ozone damage symptoms on plant leaves, how to estimate the amount of damage, and which plants are susceptible to ozone.