Lunar and Planetary Institute

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Explore! News
January 2005

Previous News Announcements

January 2005


January 12
Confirmed launch date for comet-excavating mission Deep Impact. The Deep Impact spacecraft will fly to comet Tempel 1 and release an impactor that will excavate a crater on the comet's surface.  Information gathered about the comet's composition will help scientists learn more about the formation of our Solar System. The impact will help researchers understand impact processes.

January 14
Huygens probe
dives into the murky atmosphere of Titan and lands on its surface.

January 20
Buzz Aldrin's 75th Birthday (1930)

January 24
1st Anniversary of Mars Exploration Rover "Opportunity" landing. The Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity have completed their primary requirements, and are still going after a year!

Meetings, Workshops, and Courses

American Library Association (ALA)

Midwinter Meeting, January 1419, 2005, Boston, Massachusetts

Annual Meeting, June 2329, 2005, Chicago, Illinois

Public Library Association (PLA)

Annual Meeting, March 79, 2005, Chicago, Illinois

Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)

Annual Meeting, Fall 2005

Looking for Exciting Online Graduate-Level Coursework? American Museum of Natural History Opens Winter Registration - interested participatns can deepen their knowledge of the life, Earth, and physical sciences this winter through an online course from Seminars on Science, the award-winning online professional development program of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). This winter's offerings begin January 31, and include "The Diversity of Fishes: Classification, Anatomy and Morphology," "Genetics, Genomics, Genethics," and other courses in the life and physical sciences. Click here for more information and to register, or call 800-649-6715. All the courses are online and only require internet access. Each course is available for up to four graduate credits, is taught by Museum scientists and educators, and includes classroom resources.


Space Day 2005 Design Challenges - Science Fair Possibilities? - now available for our inquiry-based curriculum enhancement program. Please share this information with others. The three new Design Challenges for 2005 are now available to download from the Space Day website. The 2005 Design Challenges are based on the theme of "Return to the Moon". As in the past, Design Challenges can be submitted for the national competition by teams of 2–10 children in grades 4–5, 6–8. There is also a club-based groups category available to the same ages. Please notice that this year's submittal date is February 15, 2005. Best wishes on your students' experiences being successful learning opportunities using the Design Challenges!


Astrobiology Education Web Adds Dynamic Atmosphere Module - As NASA prepares to investigate the atmosphere of Saturn's moon, Titan, NASA education experts are helping students investigate the importance of an atmosphere to human life. The Educational Technology Team at NASA Ames Research Center, located in California's Silicon Valley, has updated its award-winning Astro-Venture Web site with the addition of an Atmospheric Science Mission module. The site encourages students in grades five through eight to design their own Earth-like planets suitable for human habitation. Students also can role-play NASA occupations. "This is the task placed before students as they discover the primary building blocks for supporting life on a rocky, Earth-like world. This new addition to our NASA educational complement is sure to engage the inquisitive mind." More.

Or go directly to the Astro-Venture site.

Night Sky Network - Is a nationwide coalition of amateur astronomy clubs bringing the science, technology and inspiration of NASA's missions to the general public. They share time and telescopes to provide participants with unique astronomy experiences at science museums, observatories, classrooms, and under the real night sky. They focus on:

  • building a sense of community
  • providing products & materials to engage the public
  • providing training & professional development opportunities.

Night Sky Network member clubs are already conducting a number of outreach events using the first outreach toolkit: "PlanetQuest: The Search for Another Earth." The toolkit includes a number of items, e.g.:

  • constellation maps for star parties, showing naked-eye stars known to have planets around them
  • activities to show how we detect planets around other stars
  • activities to show why we place telescopes in space
  • training & presentation materials

The Space Box - Check out totally cosmic music
"The Best, Worst, and Weirdest music inspired by space!"

Mission News and Science

A black hole is an object whose gravity is so strong that not even light can escape from it. If we can't see them, how do we know they're there? As matter falls or is pulled towards the black hole, it gains kinetic energy, heats up and is squeezed by tidal forces, This violent accretion and collision emits X-rays and gamma rays, highly energetic forms of light. Scientists are investigating these poorly understood processes with the help of current missions. Two of which are:

The CHANDRA X-Ray Observatory is designed to observe X-rays from high-energy regions of the universe, such as the remnants of exploded stars.

The recently launched Swift Mission is designed specifically for Gamma Ray Burst science.

Sun-Earth Day 2005: "Ancient Observatories, Timeless Knowledge"
Traditionally Sun-Earth Day occurs annually on or near the spring equinox. However, throughout the year there are many related events and activities such as Webcasts and Local Happenings that highlight the current Sun-Earth Day theme. Sun-Earth Day is sponsored by NASA's Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum.

The next series of activities that will take place under the Sun-Earth Day umbrella include webcasts, educational resources, and national public and school events around the theme of "Ancient Observatories, Timeless Knowledge."

  • December 21, 2004: Chaco Culture National Historical Park Webcast
  • March 20, 2005: Yucatan Archeological Sites Webcast for Informal Education communities
  • March 21, 2005: Yucatan Archeological Sites Webcast for Formal Education communities

Our first event for this year's Sun-Earth Day- Ancient Observatories - Timeless Knowledge comes Live from the Exploratorium on December 21st 3:00pm EST, 12 Noon PST. Join the Live@ the Exploratorium crew and NASA scientists during a live webcast from the Exploratorium and Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico. Public and school audiences will be fascinated as we delve into the timeless knowledge of the Ancestral Pueblo people. Chacoans were believed to be daily sky watchers who amassed a great knowledge about the movements of the sun. Find out what they knew, and how they used this knowledge to predict, track, and celebrate the seasons. Today, astronomers and solar physicists continue to watch the sun using ground-based observatories and orbiting space telescopes. Learn why this work is important, and why solar research is still so vital. Additional information, including how to best access the webcast, details of the webcast program, and activities for educators will be posted on this Web site.

Did you know?
Settling down for a LONG winters nap...

Because of Uranus' lengthy orbit and extremely tilted axis, it's winter and summer seasons last the equivalent of 21 Earth years.

Learn more about seasons....

Learn more about Uranus' seasons...


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Last updated
December 20, 2006