Lunar and Planetary Institute

LPI Earth and Space Science Newsletter

To receive this information as a monthly e-mail, please sign up here.


September 22, 2014 MAVEN arrives in orbit around Mars

October 4 - October 10, 2014 World Space Week 2014

October 7 - October 8, 2014 Early Morning Lunar Eclipse Visible in the US

October 19, 2014 Comet Siding Springs Narrowly Avoids Mars

March 1, 2015 Dawn Mission arrives at Ceres--largest asteroid

July 14, 2015 New Horizons mission flies by Pluto


Calendar in the Sky Webinar: Day of the Dead
The origins of this modern holiday have connections to astronomical events, especially to seasonal cycles of the Sun. During this Webinar (Sept 26) Calendar in the Sky will examine the astronomical origins of some of the Maya and other cultural traditions associated with Day of the Dead.

Free NASA Mars Education Conference in Arizona
Saturday, September 27, 2014 - 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM Looking for ideas on how to integrate and take advantage of current, natural events using NGSS practices into your classroom teaching? Are you curious how NASA themes can fit into your curriculum to help you engage your students’ interest? Mars will have a very close encounter with a comet Siding Spring shortly! Dr. Richard Zurek, Mars Program Chief Scientist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will give teachers the latest information about how NASA will address this challenging natural event.

Free Small Bodies Workshop in Tucson
There will be a free workshop for science educators of grades 5-12 on small bodies in the solar system in conjunction with the Division of Planetary Sciences annual meeting! "Small Worlds: Big Discoveries" will discuss how asteroids and comets have shaped our understanding of the history and evolution of our solar system. When: Sunday, November 9, 8:30am- 5:00pm (lunch included) Where: JW Marriott Starr Pass, Tucson, Arizona. Registration closes Oct. 24.

Houston Mars Rover Celebration Teacher Workshops
These two workshops (Sept. 20 & 27) at the University of Houston will help teachers to prepare their students for the 2015 Mars Rover Celebrations. The Sept. 20 workshop covers the basics of Mars science; Sept. 27 covers the revised curriculum materials and provides examples of the inquiry based acticivites.


Tucson Science Educators' Day (EDAY)
The Optical Society is hosting a Science Educators’ Day (EDAY) in Tuscon, Oct 22, 5-8 pm. The guest speaker will be Dr. Michael Raymer, a physicist and Phillip H. Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Oregon.

View an eclipse of the Moon on October 8
On October 8, the full Moon will pass through Earth’s shadow, producing a total lunar eclipse visible for a portion of North America, and a partial lunar eclipse for all of North America. This total lunar eclipse will be best seen from the Pacific Ocean and bordering regions (weather permitting, of course!), although even eastern regions of the U.S. will be able to observe the beginning stages. The total lunar eclipse begins at about 3:25 am Pacific daylight time when the Moon completely enters the darkest part of Earth’s shadow.

Free Houston Lecture on Gravity, Sept. 18 at LPI
The Lunar and Planetary Institute is pleased to introduce the 2014 - 2015 Cosmic Explorations Speaker Series: 'Science on the Silver Screen." This series will explore the accuracy, and inaccuracy, of science portrayed in the movies. The series will begin September 18, 2014 with a presentation by astronaut and planetary scientist Dr. Stanley Love discussing the 2013 movie "Gravity."

Earth Science Week
Held October 12-18, ESW 2014 will promote awareness of the dynamic interactions of the planet’s natural and human systems. The updated Earth Science Week Online Toolkit includes 76 lessons, posters, fact sheets, and other materials, each offered in both English and Spanish.

Astrobiology Symposium at the Library of Congress Open to Public
The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress in the District of Columbia, in cooperation with the NASA Astrobiology Program, is hosting the second annual Astrobiology Symposium on Sept. 18-19, 2014. "Preparing for Discovery: A Rational Approach to the Impact of Finding Microbial, Complex or Intelligent Life Beyond Earth," is a two-day symposium featuring panel discussions, lectures and audience question-and-answer sessions. The event is free and open to the public. No pre-registration is required.


Become a Solar System Ambassador
The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Solar System Ambassadors Program (SSA), a nationwide network of space enthusiast volunteers, will accept applications from September 1 through September 30, 2014. Highly motivated individuals will be given the opportunity to represent NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as volunteer Solar System Ambassadors to the public for a one-year, renewable term beginning January 1, 2015. While applications will be sought nationwide, interested parties from the following states are especially encouraged to apply: Alaska, Delaware, Iowa, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Wyoming and the District of Columbia. SSA hopes to add 100 new volunteers to the program in 2015.

NASA Internships for High School and College Students
NASA's One Stop Shopping Initiative for Internships, Fellowships and Scholarships, or OSSI NIFS, strives to provide high school students and undergraduate and graduate students at all institutions of higher education access to a portfolio of internship, fellowship and scholarship opportunities offered by NASA mission directorates and centers. Visit the Office of Education Infrastructure Division LaunchPad to find information on internship, fellowship and scholarship opportunities. Applications for spring 2015 opportunities are due Oct. 12, 2014.

Einstein Fellowship Program
The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program provides a unique opportunity for accomplished K-12 educators in STEM fields to spend eleven months working in a Federal agency or in a U.S. Congressional office, bringing their extensive knowledge and experience in the classroom to education program and/or education policy efforts. Applications are due November 20, 2014.

Earth Science Week Contests
he American Geosciences Institute is sponsoring a series of contests to celebrate Earth Science Week 2014. The photography contest is open to all ages, the visual arts contest is open to students grades K-5, and the essay contest is open to students grades 6-9. The entry deadline for all three contests is Oct. 17, 2014.

Send Your Name to the Asteroid Bennu!
NASA is inviting people around the world to submit their names to be etched on a microchip aboard a spacecraft headed to the asteroid Bennu in 2016. The microchip will travel to the asteroid aboard the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx, spacecraft, which will spend more than two years at the asteroid. OSIRIS-REx will collect a sample of Bennu's surface and return it to Earth in a sample return capsule. The deadline to submit names online is Sept. 30, 2014.

Humans in Space Art Video Challenge--for college students and early career adults
The Humans in Space Art Program and NASA’s International Space Station Program are teaming together to invite college students and early career professionals to take a journey with us. Through the international Humans in Space Art Challenge, we invite you to explore "How will humans use space science, and technology to benefit humanity?" and to express your answer creatively in a video 3 minutes long or less. Video artwork can be of any style, featuring original animation, sketches, music, live action drama, poetry, dance, Rube Goldberg machines, apps, etc. Submission deadline: Nov. 15, 2014

Apply for NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program (NITARP)
NITARP gets teachers involved in authentic astronomical research. They partner small groups of educators with a mentor professional astronomer for an original research project. The educators incorporate the experience into their classrooms and share their experience with other teachers. The program runs January through January. Applications are available now and due on September 22, 2014.


ING Unsung Heroes Program's Class Project Awards
Each year, one hundred K-12 educators are selected to receive awards of $2,000 each to help fund their innovative class projects. Of the one hundred finalists, three will be selected for additional financial awards. All awards must be used to further the projects within the school or school system. Application deadline: April 30 2015.

Shell Science Teaching Award
The National Science Teachers Association, with support from Shell Oil Company, is inviting nominations for the Shell Science Teaching Award, an annual program that recognizes an outstanding K-12 classroom teacher who has had a positive impact on his/her students, school, and community through exemplary science teaching. The award includes a $10,000 cash prize and an all-expense paid trip to attend NSTA’s national conference; two finalists also will receive all-expense-paid trips to the conference. Nomination deadline: Nov. 18, 2014.

Freedoms Foundation Accepting Nominations for 2015 Leavey Awards
The foundation is accepting nominations for the 2015 Leavey Awards, an annual program that recognizes educators at the elementary, junior high school, high school, and college levels for innovative and effective techniques related to the teaching of entrepreneurship and the free enterprise system. Up to twenty cash awards of $7,500 each will be awarded. Nomination deadline: Nov. 1, 2014.


Lunar Eclipse Resources
On October 8, the full Moon will pass through Earth’s shadow, producing a total lunar eclipse visible for a portion of North America, and a partial lunar eclipse for all of North America. Lunar eclipses are perfectly safe to view, and an exciting family event. LPI has assembled information and a variety of links with information, multimedia, and activities.

New Video: What is the Scale of the Universe?
OSIRIS-REx presents a video which looks at the scale of everything in the Universe, from our target asteroid, Bennu, all the way up to the Universe itself.

Earth Science Week Online Toolkit
The updated Earth Science Week Online Toolkit includes 76 lessons, posters, fact sheets, and other materials, each offered in both English and Spanish. Materials provide users with introductory information on Earth science, as well as in-depth items on earth, water, air, and life science.

Climate Literacy & Energy Awareness Network
Resources on climate and energy literacy for the classroom are available from the Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN). CLEAN has launched a searchable portal of online learning activities, videos, and visualizations on climate and energy.

Resources and Demos on the Importance of Carbon Dioxide in our Atmosphere
NASA Wavelength has created a list of educational resources on this greenhouse gas, along with information on the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 mission, which will map carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere, and links to articles and activities for students of all ages.

Galaxy Collision Activity
This activity is designed to allow high school and undergraduate students to understand the structure of galaxies and nature of galaxy collisions. They will: watch a planetarium show, build their own galaxy, and engage with an interactive simulation illustrating how galaxies collide and merge gravitationally.


Milky Way Part of Newly Identified Supercluster
Astronomers have determined that our Milky Way galaxy is part of a massive supercluster of galaxies. The Milky Way is in the outskirts of this Laniakea Supercluster, which is 500 million light years wide and contains 100,000 galaxies.

How Did Supermassive Black Holes Form Quickly?
Astronomers have evidence that supermassive black holes (a billion times the mass of the Sun) formed at the centers of many galaxies early in Universe. One puzzle has been how they could form quickly, when the accretion disk around a black hole would make it difficult for it to grow very fast. A new model suggests that they may have formed in clusters of thousands of stars, whose gravitational pull prevented the accretion disk from forming.

New Information about Rosetta Comet
The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft is examining Comet 67P and has discovered it has a dark, dusty crust. Rosetta will approach and orbit the comet, mapping the surface temperature to understand its structure and composition. It will eventually land on the comet.

Astronomers Discovery Mystery Matter
Astronomers examining the spectra of superheated gases in the Perseid Galaxy Cluster have found a spectral line that does not correspond to any known type of matter. One possibility is that it may correspond to dark matter.

Comet's Path Narrowly Misses Mars
On Oct. 19, 2014, Comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) will pass extremely close to Mars. Siding Spring will glide by Mars only 132,000 km away--about 1/3rd of the distance between Earth and the Moon. Although the comet's nucleus will not strike the planet, gas and dust spewing out of the comet's core will likely interact with the Martian atmosphere. There could be a meteor shower, auroras, and other effects that no one can predict. NASA's fleet of Mars spacecraft and rovers will record whatever happens.