Lunar and Planetary Institute

LPI Earth and Space Science Newsletter

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August 11 - August 13, 2014 Perseid Meteor Shower

September 6, 2014 International Observe the Moon Night

September 22, 2014 MAVEN arrives in orbit around Mars

October 4 - October 10, 2014 World Space Week 2014

October 19, 2014 Comet Siding Springs Narrowly Avoids Mars

July 1, 2015 New Horizons mission flies by Pluto


Free Emergence of Life online course
The free 8-week online course, which is led by Dr. Bruce Fouke, a Principal Investigator and Outreach Lead for the NASA Astrobiology Institute’s team in Illinois, provides an overview of the history of life, and connections to our search for life beyond the Earth.

MAVEN Workshop -- Red Planet: Read, Write, Explore!
The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN, or MAVEN, mission is set to arrive at Mars on Sept. 21, 2014. The MAVEN education team is conducting a workshop about the mission and the accompanying elementary program, Sept. 21 in Boulder, CO. The program features six standards-based lessons that combine science, literacy and art to help students understand planetary habitability and the MAVEN mission. Applications are due Sept. 15, 2014.

NGSS Web Seminars at NSTA
Use the summer to continue your learning around the NGSS with three free web seminars from NSTA. Presented by experts in their areas, the events will help K-12 science educators increase understanding of the standards and learn how to implement the NGSS in the classroom. Sessions begin July 15!

Climate Change Workshop for Oklahoma and Texas Teachers
This weekend workshop (Sept. 26-28, 2014) will be held at the University of Oklahoma Biological Station on Lake Texoma. Topics include current climate science, inquiry-base learning, state curriculum, and classroom issues.


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.


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.


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.


Visualization of 56 Years of Tornadoes in the US
Using information from, tech blogger John Nelson has created this spectacular image of tornado paths in the US over a 56 year period. The graphic categorizes the storms by F-scale with the brighter neon lines representing more violent storms.


New Horizons One Year Out from Pluto
In July 2015, NASA will discover a new world. On July 14th, 2015, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft will make a close flyby of Pluto; no one knows what landscape to expect.

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.

Mars Rover Breaks Distance Record
NASA's Opportunity Mars rover, which landed on the Red Planet in 2004, now holds the off-Earth roving distance record after accruing 25 miles (40 kilometers) of driving. The previous record was held by the Soviet Union's Lunokhod 2 rover.

New Type of Planet: the Mega-Earth
Astronomers have discovered a new type of planet - a rocky world weighing 17 times as much as Earth. This type of planet was not expected to form; scientists suspect that such a massive planet would accumulate gas and become a gas giant. This planet, discovered by the Kepler mission and then observed by the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo, is too dense to be a gas giant.

Potential ‘Goldilocks’ Planet Found
A new-found planet is in a "just-right" location around its star where liquid water could possibly exist on the planet’s surface. A team of international astronomers have discovered a potentially habitable super-Earth orbiting a nearby star in a habitable zone, where it isn’t too hot or too cold for liquid water to exist. The team said this discovery demonstrates that habitable planets could form in a greater variety of environments than previously believed.

Meteorites Brought Ammonia to Earth?
Researchers have teased ammonia of a carbon-containing meteorite from Antarctica, and propose that meteorites may have delivered that essential ingredient for life to an early Earth.
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