Lunar and Planetary Institute

LPI Earth and Space Science Newsletter

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


January 1 - December 31, 2015 Hubble Space Telescope's 25th Anniversary

January 1 - December 31, 2015 International Year of Light

June 21, 2015 Summer Solstice

July 14, 2015 New Horizons mission flies by Pluto

August 12, 2015 Perseid Meteor Shower

September 28, 2015 Total Lunar Eclipse


Free Earth and Space Science Workshop for 8th grade in Houston
The Lunar and Planetary Institute, working with members of the STEP program, will be offering a series of free workshops August 5-7 for 8th grade science teachers and middle school science student teachers; topics include lunar phases, tides, seasons, topography, and characteristics of the universe. Registration will be on a space available basis and opens by April 20th!

MAVEN Educator Ambassadors (MEA) For Middle and High School Teachers
In September of 2014, the MAVEN mission began exploring Mars’ upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind. In this NASA funded program (August 3-7, 2015, at Goddard Space Flight Center), you will receive training to become a MAVEN Ambassador, to train other teachers on NASA Heliophysics and Planetary Science educational resources. We expect that the educators involved in the MEA program will implement the lesson plans and education resources in their own classrooms, as well as train other teachers at local and regional professional development conferences or meetings. Participants receive a single travel stipend of $700. Free housing and meals will be provided.

DREAM2Explore Workshop at Goddard This Summer
Grade 6-9 science teachers are invited to participate in a free workshop, June 22-26, focused on lunar and planetary science, exploration, and how our understanding of the Moon, asteroids, and the moons of Mars is growing and changing with new data from current and recent planetary missions. In-service and pre-service science teachers are encouraged to apply.


Just 4 Teens at the HMNS
This Summer, the Houston Museum of Natural Science offers two high energy, project intensive programs for teens who love doing science and making their own discoveries. Crete your own computer game, analyze fossils, explore the cosmos and the ocean floor. With the Museum's world renowned exhibit halls as their classroom, students will create real projects with real data. Teachers, please contact Carolyn Sumners directly (, if you have any questions about those classes.


NCTM Invites Applications for 2015 Middle School Student Engagement Grants
Grants of up to $3,000 will be awarded to persons currently teaching math in grades 6-8 to support the incorporation of materials or lessons which actively engage students in tasks and experiences that deepen their content knowledge. Deadline is November 6, 2015.


LPI Cosmic Exploration Video Recordings
Video recordings are available online for the Cosmic Exploration presentations, including Dr. Stan Love's discussion of "Gravity," Dr. Walter Kiefer's "Exploring the Core: The Inside Story," and Dr. Jill Tarter's presentation, "SETI: Real vs Reel."

Astronomy Lecture Videos by Silicon Valley
There are new, videotaped, popular astronomy lectures available at the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures YouTube Site. New talks include a preview of the New Horizons mission to Pluto by team member Dr. Mark Showalter (who also discusses his discovery of two new moons of Pluto), a discussion of the Planck Mission results (examining the afterglow of the Big Bang), and a talk by former NASA Astronaut Ed Lu about the proposed Sentinel mission to help defend us against dangerous asteroids.

Tool Enabling Citizen Scientists to Examine Asteroid Vesta
NASA has announced the release of Vesta Trek, a free, web-based application that provides detailed visualizations of Vesta, a large asteroid studied by the Dawn mission. The application includes interactive maps, 3-D printer-exportable topography, and standard keyboard gaming controls to maneuver a first-person visualization of "flying" across the surface of the asteroid.


Hydrothermal Activity in Enceladus' Ocean
Saturn's moon Enceladus has a subsurface ocean. Scientists have just discovered are signs of current hydrothermal activity that may be warming up its seas, possibly enough for life to survive.

Lava Tubes on the Moon
A recent study indicates there may be stable lava tubes on the Moon large enough to house entire cities, sheltering human settlements from radiation.

Images Suggest Running Water on Mars
Images from Mars Recconnaissance Orbiter show long stains on the sides of mountains, possibly caused by very salty liquid water seeping from below the surface.

Dawn Mission at Ceres
Dawn arrived at Ceres on March 6. Once the spacecraft settles into its first science orbit on April 23 at a distance of 8,400 miles from the surface, it will begin taking a hard look at this cratered mini-planet. The variety of landforms and varied colors hint that Ceres was once an active body or one with the means to resurface itself from within.

Scientists Map the Dark Matter Around Millions of Galaxies
Scientists with the Dark Energy Survey (DES) collaboration released the first in a series of detailed maps charting the distribution of dark matter inferred from its gravitational effects. The new maps confirm current theories that suggest galaxies will form where large concentrations of dark matter exist. The new data show large filaments of dark matter where visible galaxies and galaxy clusters lie and cosmic voids where very few galaxies reside.

NASA to Investigate Magnetic Explosions
NASA has launched a fleet of spacecraft to investigate the mystery of "magnetic reconnection," which is making things explode across the cosmos.

New Horizons Spacecraft Nears Historic July 14 Encounter with Pluto
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is three months from returning to humanity the first-ever close up images and scientific observations of distant Pluto and its system of large and small moons.