Lunar and Planetary Institute

LPI Earth and Space Science Newsletter

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March 20, 2015 Spring Equinox--the first day of spring

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

July 14, 2015 New Horizons mission flies by Pluto


NSF Research Experience for Pre-service STEM Teachers
A nine-week National Science Foundation summer undergraduate research experience for future middle and high school science teachers includes field trips to Mammoth Caves and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, as well as travel to the 2016 GSA meeting in Denver; a large stipend is provided and all expenses are covered. Application deadline: Feb. 15, 2015

McDonald Observatory 2015 Teacher Professional Development
McDonald Observatory is now accepting applications for its Summer 2015 K-12 teacher professional development workshops. McDonald Observatory will be offering four scholarship workshops during Summer 2015, all workshops will be located out at McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains in west Texas. Each workshops is a 3 day / 2 night program, scholarships cover most workshop expenses including food, lodging and program fees; participants are responsible for their own travel expenses. Available workshops begin in mid June 2015 and run through July 2015. Workshop topics vary from Solar System science, to telescopes, and cosmology. Application Deadline February 6, 2015.

Houston Earth & Space Science Workshops at HCDE
These day-long trainings are hosted at the Harris County Department of Education and conducted through LPI’s NASA-funded STEP project. Registration is required; fees cover lunch and HCDE’s costs.

NASA Educator Professional Development Webinars
NASA Educator Professional Development is presenting a series of free webinars open to all educators. Join NASA Education Specialists to learn about activities, lesson plans, educator guides and resources to bring NASA into your classroom.


Free Houston Talk by Jill Tarter: SETI--Real vs Reel
The next presentation in the Lunar and Planetary Institute’s 2014-2015 Cosmic Explorations Speaker Series, "Science" on the Silver Screen, is Jan. 29, 2015. SETI scientist Dr. Jill Tarter discuss the scientific accuracies and inaccuracies presented in the movie "Contact." This free presentation at 7:30 pm is intended for inquisitive adults and will be followed by a light reception and an opportunity to meet Dr. Tarter. Registration is required to attend this presentation, and will be available online on January 15.


Nominate a White House Champion of Change for Climate Education and Literacy
On Dec. 3, 2014, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy launched the Climate Education and Literacy Initiative, focused on connecting Americans of all ages with the best-available, science-based information about climate change. They are asking for help in identifying and honoring local leaders who are taking action to enhance understanding of climate change as Champions of Change for Climate Education and Literacy, (including educators who serve as leaders in promoting and integrating best-available climate science into their classrooms.) These extraordinary leaders will be invited to the White House to celebrate their accomplishments and amplify their work to promote climate education and literacy as a critical step toward building an educated, next-generation American workforce that grasps the climate change challenge and is equipped to seek and implement solutions. Please submit nominations by midnight EST on Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014.

International Competition to Name a Crater on Mercury in Honor of Messenger Mission
The MESSENGER Team is seeking help from all Earthlings to suggest names for five impact craters on Mercury. This is a chance to immortalize an important person in the Arts and Humanities from any nation or cultural group by having a crater on the planet Mercury named in their honor! They will accept submissions until January 15, 2015 (23:59 UTC). All entries will be reviewed by team representatives and expert panels. Then, 15 finalist names will be submitted to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) for selection of the 5 winners.


Created by the Lemelson-MIT Program, the InvenTeam initiative provides opportunities for high school students to cultivate their creativity, curiosity, and problem-solving abilities and apply lessons from (STEM) subjects to the invention of technological solutions to real-world problems. Teams comprised of high school students, teachers, and mentors receive grants of up to $10,000 to invent technological solutions for a problem of their choice. Projects can range from assistive devices to environmental technologies and consumer goods. Applicants are encouraged to consider the needs of the world's poorest people when creating their projects. Initial application deadline: Feb. 27, 2015.

IRA Invites Proposals for 2015 Teacher as Researcher Grant
The International Reading Association is seeking proposals for the 2015 Teacher as Researcher Grant program. Grants of up to $4,000 will be awarded to support teacher inquiries related to literacy and instruction. Grant-related studies may be carried out using any research method or approach so long as the focus is on reading/writing or literacy. Submission deadline: extended until January 15, 2015.

2015 Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award
This award by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation recognizes the accomplishments of one outstanding individual and his or her contributions to lifelong learning through the application of technology in the classroom or in the professional development of teachers. Technology personnel and K-12 classroom teachers who have demonstrated exemplary use of technology to enhance learning in STEM are eligible for this award. School principals, superintendents or associate superintendents may nominate eligible candidates. The deadline for applications is Jan. 16, 2015.

2014 Edward C. Roy, Jr. Award for Excellence in K-8 Earth Science Teaching
Each year, this award recognizes one full-time U.S. teacher from kindergarten to eighth grade for leadership and innovation in Earth science education. The winner will receive a $2,500 prize and a travel grant of $1,000 to attend the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Annual Conference in Chicago in March 2015 to accept the award. To be eligible for the 2014 competition, applications must be postmarked by January 20, 2015.

Apply for a Teacher Scholarship to Raft the Grand Canyon with NCSE
Apply for an all-expenses-paid eight-day raft trip down the Grand Canyon with the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). Winners will receive free airfare, lodging before and after the trip, and the trip of a lifetime, exploring the wonders of Grand Canyon with a team of scientists, educators, and science fans. The deadline for applications is January 5, 2015.

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.


Recordings of Presentations on Gravity and Exploring the Core Available
Recordings of Dr. Stanley Love's "Gravity" and Dr. Walter Kiefer's "Exploring the Core: The Inside Story" presentations at the Lunar and Planetary Institute are now available. Links to the recordings can be found on the Cosmic Explorations Speaker Series homepage.

New NASA CO2 Visualization
NASA has released a new CO2 visualization created by the GEOS-5 computer model. Plumes of carbon dioxide in the simulation swirl and shift as winds disperse the greenhouse gas away from its sources. The simulation also illustrates differences in carbon dioxide levels in the northern and southern hemispheres as well as distinct swings in global carbon dioxide concentrations as the growth cycle of plants and trees changes with the seasons.

Revised Guide to Astronomy Science Fiction Education Resources
An updated guide to science fiction stories with reasonable astronomy and physics (organized by science topic) is now available by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

New Guide to Eclipse Education Resources
A new guide to educational resources about eclipses in general and the "Great American Eclipse of the Sun" in 2017 has been produced by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

New Diversity Tool -- Unconscious Bias in STEM: Addressing the Challenges
NASA's Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity has added a new civil rights technical assistance tool for STEM, "Unconscious Bias in STEM: Addressing the Challenges." This tool is designed to provide STEM program administrators, faculty, staff and students with a better understanding and appreciation of the ways in which unconscious bias can impact the STEM environment, as well as fresh perspectives on how to avoid the pitfalls of such bias and maintain compliance with the law.

Astro 101 Slide Sets
These slide sets are intended to help Astro 101 instructors bring the latest NASA discoveries into their classrooms, but may also be useful to high school astronomy instructors and others.


Young Volcanoes on the Moon
The Moon might not be as dead as it looks. Researchers using NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have found signs of geologically-recent volcanic eruptions dotting the lunar landscape.

Puzzling Polar Sea Ice
Arctic sea ice extent is still below normal, continuing a years-long downward trend, covering less and less of the north polar seas with a frozen crust. Scientists have also found that while Arctic sea ice was melting, Antarctic sea ice was at an all-time high. Climate scientists are examining this mystery to determine whether the increased sea ice is due to increased winds freezing more water, more glacier melt producing more sea ice, changes in snowfall, or other processes.

Rosetta Reignites Debate over Earth's Oceans
Many scientists have suspected that Earth's water originated in ancient impacts of comets and asteroids. However, new data from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft indicate that terrestrial water did not come from comets like 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Possible Detection of Dark Matter Particle
Astronomers are still seeking the source of "dark matter," an invisible mass that has been detected by its gravitational interaction with galaxies and galaxy clusters. Recently, astronomers found variations in a stream of x-rays from the Sun that match what would be expected if axions--a hypothetical dark matter particle--were interacting with Earth's magnetic field. If confirmed, the axion finding would be a huge discovery.