Lunar and Planetary Institute

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Education and Public Outreach

June 2006

Previous News Announcements

June 2006


June 28, 2006 - NASA will begin the countdown for the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery at 5 p.m. EDT June 28.

July 1, 2006 – Space Shuttle launch scheduled!!

July 3, 2006 – Earth at Aphelion (furthest point in orbit from the Sun).

August 12, 2006 – Perseid Meteor Shower peak

October 3–6, 2006 - Navy Pier in Chicago will be the site for ILA's Annual Conference.

November 11, 2006 – Pennsylvania Library Association Annual Conference at the Hilton in Pittsburgh, PA.

November 29–December 1, 2006 - SCLA Annual Conference at Hilton Head. The conference will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Explore News

Rebecca Bane of the Greenville County Library, in Greenville South Carolina has found a couple ideas for the video and activity components of Explore! She is using the materials for the After School Science Program at the library. This on-going program is held once a month and will incorporate the Explore! materials. The Explore! kits have been duplicated and processed for checkout to the public through the library system.

The Lunar and Planetary Institute is looking for 2 Explore Librarians to field test a new module!  The module focuses on the challenges and changes to the human body in space.  What happens to your bones and muscles? Did you know your head swells?  How do we stay healthy in space — and on Earth?  If you are interested in testing the materials in your library program between 17 and 31 July, please contact Stephanie Shipp ( Individual programs should have at least 20 children, ages 8–13, and should have a total of 6 contact hours; the module needs to be tested in two such programs at each participating library. Participating librarians will need to provide evaluation feedback in survey form and on a telephone call. Participating sites receive $1000.

Workshops and Courses

Science Teacher Astronomy Workshop
The Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus and The Bowen Lodgeat Crowell, Texas are still taking applications for the July 14–16 Science Teacher Astronomy Workshop. The workshop was full but they are expanding the number of participants! The cost is $65 and includes 2 nights lodging at beautiful Bowen Lodge and 5 meals.Educational Service Centers have approved this workshop for 3 hours of GT credit. Sponsored and Funded By the 3 Rivers Foundation for the Arts and Sciences.

Summer Online Science Courses
Seminars on Science, the American Museum of Natural History’s (AMNH) program of online professional development courses for K–12 science educators, has extended its $50 discount and registration deadlines for a limited time for the 2006 summer session July 3–August 13. For more visit Space, Time and Motion for free sample resources and information. Courses are taught and led by Museum scientists and educators and feature rich web-based discussions. Graduate credit is available (and may meet teacher’s professional development requirements). For complete course details and registration, visit Seminars on Science .

Grants and Funding

Educator Researcher Workshops The SCORE program offers grants to assist in the development and implementation of local professional development workshops for educators in the SCORE six-state region of Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Workshop design is flexible and should meet the needs of the local community.  Funding deadlines are June 15 and January 15. 

Educator Researcher Collaborative Projects The SCORE program offers grants of up to $1000 to collaborative teams of educators and Office of Space Science researchers in the SCORE six-state region of Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.  The grants are intended to help initiate new partnerships between educators and Office of Space Science researchers. Funds can be used to purchase materials and resources to increase student or public understanding of space science content.


Living and Working on the Moon
Librarians and teachers can invite students to design systems that will support living and working on the Moon. The challenge will be to design a combination of facilities that support arriving precisely, living adaptively and working efficiently that will make exploration possible on the Moon and can protect both the explorers and the Moon from contamination. NASA has a growing list of reading materials that will help you get started by visiting Lunar Outpost Design Challenge. If you have any questions you can write to

Johnson Space Center Educational Tour
Johnson Space Center, the home of America’s astronauts, has invited any interested informal and formal educators to spend a few days in Houston, Texas. This is more than just a simple tour, this is a behind-the-scenes experience that will open your eyes to the dedication and professionalism required to keep our space program functioning. Registration is limited so apply early. The date of the program is October 18–22. Cost is $450. Cost includes travel to and from Texas, lodging, admission into both Space Center Houston and Johnson Space Center, and the banquet ticket which includes one meal. Other meals, souvenirs, and travel to Hutchinson is not included. To Register: Contact Laurie Givan, Education Coordinator at: Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, 1100 North Plum, 67501–1499. Phone: 1-800-397-0330, Ext. 323.


The Sun
Librarians, here is an excellent opportunity to add an astronomy based book to your collection. This photographic book is devoted entirely to the Sun, illustrating the star we know and revealing recent discoveries. Dramatic images from photographers, observatories, and satellites are organized as viewed first from the ground, then from earth's atmosphere and the edge of space, and finally from the surface of the sun itself. Cost is $12.97 plus free shipping.

Science @ NASA Feature Stories Podcast
The mission of Science@NASA is to help the public understand how exciting NASA research is and to help NASA scientists fulfill their outreach responsibilities. There are several ways to listen to the Science@NASA stories in audio.

Do You Need a Science Presenter in North Texas?
Three Rivers Foundation (3RF) has representatives across north Texas who are willing to travel to your location to lecture on Astronomy, provide star parties with premium equipment, and expand your horizons. These events are open to the public, school groups, and civic groups. 3RF also offers star parties and education at astronomy camps in Comanche Springs. It's located near Crowell, Texas in the middle of the north Texas Ranchlands that provide very dark skies for the events. 

Essential Science for Teachers: Earth and Space Science
These professional development materials for K-6 educators explore Earth and space science through real-world examples, demonstrations, animations, and interviews with scientists. In-depth interviews with children uncover their ideas about the topic at hand. The eight one-hour video programs are accompanied by print and Web materials that provide in-class activities and homework explorations.

Earth & Sky Interviews
Here is a good resource for libraries or classrooms to post to get students excited about science careers. The Earth & Sky radio series and web site provides a clear voice for science.  Six Earth & Sky interviews have been selected for the My Hero project online, which celebrates those working in science and technology to make a difference around the world. Read Earth & Sky interviews on the Web site.

Stereo Graphics Online
New STEREO graphics and movies are available online for librarians, teachers and students. The videos are narrated and include missions, animations explaining coronal mass ejections, photos and even some 3-D movies of mission spacecraft. For more information, contact If you’re looking for classroom activities and space music, visit the STEREO Education and Public Outreach site.

New Book on Archeoastronomy
“Traditions of the Sun: A Photographic Journey to the Yucatan,” compares the keen Sun-observing traditions of the ancient Mayans to those of modern NASA satellites and technology, while celebrating the Mayan people. This beautiful coffee-table style book contains photos and text on Mayan culture — both ancient and modern — and NASA imagery taken from space, and highlights the solar alignments built into the Mayan architecture. This book is written in three languages on each page — Spanish, Mayan, and English. It is oriented toward 5th–8th graders.

Space Place Resource on Lasers
Many highly useful devices are based on lasers, including spectroscopes. Laser energy is a form of light, but what makes it different from ordinary light? The latest “Amazing Fact” on The Space Place describes step by step the basic properties of natural light and the special properties of laser light.  Interactive animations demonstrate the concepts in a simple and fun way. Visit the Web site to get a laser- sharp understanding of this form of energy and find out how lasers can help find life on other planets.

Planet Earth Geography Website
The campaign Web site, My Wonderful World provides resources for activities and ways that informal and formal educators can work to get more geography into the classroom, links to geography games and online adventures for kids and teens, classroom materials for educators, and ways for young and old to test their global IQs. The site also provides tools for communicating to policymakers and education leaders the importance of geographic literacy.

NASA Resource
The cornerstone of the NASA-designed 21st Century Explorer is a series of newsbreaks and educational materials featuring student actors. These videos address space-related questions and offer engaging responses. NASA KSNN™ Newsbreaks and Noticiencias NASA™ materials are available online for classroom teachers, informal educators and community members. Students and educators in grades three through five will find a wide selection of hands-on projects, stories and videos presented in both Spanish and English.

Mission News and Science

NASA introduces LCROSS
Modified from In Search of Water, NASA Spacecraft to Hit the Moon
NASA recently announced that a small spacecraft has been selected to travel to the moon to look for precious water ice at the lunar south pole. The name of the mission is LCROSS, short for Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite. LCROSS is a secondary payload: It will hitch a ride to the moon onboard the same rocket as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) satellite due to launch from the Kennedy Space Center in October 2008. LCROSS will hunt for water by hitting the moon--twice--throwing up plumes that may contain signs of H2O.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and LCROSS are the first of many robotic missions NASA will conduct between 2008 and 2016 to study, map, and learn about the lunar surface to prepare for the return of astronauts to the moon. These early missions will help determine lunar landing sites and whether resources, such as oxygen, hydrogen, and metals, are available for use in NASA's long-term lunar exploration objectives.

Tracking Meteoroid Impacts on the Moon
Modified from Tracking Meteoroid Impacts on the Moon
It's been said that a ton of meteoroids hit the Moon every day. For the Apollo astronauts, this wasn't much of a risk - the Moon's a big place, and they didn't stay long. For future long term bases on the Moon, however, things could be riskier. NASA scientists are using seismometers on the Moon to track the frequency of meteoroid impacts. When objects strike the Moon, they send shockwaves through the ground that can be detected many miles away. Following the Vision for Space Exploration, NASA is sending astronauts back to the Moon to stay longer and build bigger bases than Apollo astronauts ever did. The odds of something precious being hit will go up. Should NASA be worried?

Clues to how often and how hard the Moon is hit lie in data from four seismometers placed on the Moon by the Apollo 12, 14, 15, and 16 missions during 1969–72. They operated until NASA turned them off in 1977. For years, the seismometers recorded all manner of tremors and jolts, including almost 3000 moonquakes, 1700 meteoroid strikes, and 9 spacecraft deliberately crashed into the Moon. All these data were transmitted to Earth for analysis. In theory, scientists should be able to pick out tremors from objects as small as 10 centimeters (4 inches), weighing as little as 1 kg (2.2 lb). Four inches doesn't sound like much, but traveling at cosmic velocities, a four-inch meteoroid can blast a crater as wide as your desk. According to the Standard Model, such meteoroids hit the Moon approximately 400 times a year-more than once a day. The Apollo seismic dataset can test that prediction and many others.

Stolen Stars
Modified from
At some point in the distant past, our own Milky Way robbed stars from another globular galactic cluster? Based on telescopic observations by a team of Italian astronomers, reports show that the stellar cluster Messier 12 must have lost to our Milky Way galaxy close to one million low-mass stars.

Located at a distance of 23,000 light years in the constellation Ophiuchus, Messier 12 got its name by being the 12th entry in the catalogue of nebulous objects compiled in 1774 by French astronomer and comet chaser Charles Messier. It is also known to astronomers as NGC 6218 and contains about 200,000 stars, most of them having a mass between 20 and 80 percent of the mass of the Sun.

Globular clusters like Messier 12 move in extended elliptical orbits that periodically take them through the densely populated regions of our Galaxy, the plane, then high above and below, in the 'halo'. When venturing too close to the innermost and denser regions of the Milky Way, the 'bulge', a globular cluster can be perturbed, the smallest stars being ripped away.

The total remaining lifetime of Messier 12 is predicted to be about 4.5 billion years, i.e. about a third of its present age. This is very short compared to the typical expected globular cluster's lifetime, which is about 20 billion years. The scientists hope to discover and study many more clusters like these, since catching clusters while being disrupted should clarify the dynamics of the process that shaped the halo of our home galaxy, the Milky Way.

Lunar Prospecting
Modified from Hard-nosed Advice to Lunar Prospectors
Did you know that as NASA moves towards a future colony on the Moon and Mars, mining and prospecting are going to be key skills for settlers? NASA can send settlers air and water and fuel from Earth, but eventually, they'll have to learn to live off the land, using local resources to meet their needs. On the Moon, for instance, mission planners hope to find water frozen in the dark recesses of polar craters. Water can be split into hydrogen for rocket fuel and oxygen for breathing. Water is also good for drinking and as a bonus it is one of the best known radiation shields. Unlike here on Earth, deposits on the Moon aren't so well understood. Is lunar ice widespread or patchy, deep or shallow? Does it even exist? It will take unmanned missions to find answers to these questions before we can even imagine sending humans to live there for extended periods of time. Ultimately, if geologists and engineers work together applying specific rules as they go, living off the land on alien worlds might not be such a daunting task.

Last updated
December 20, 2006