Lunar and Planetary Institute

LPI Earth and Space Science Newsletter

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

January 1 - December 31, 2015 International Year of Light

March 6, 2015 Dawn Mission arrives at Ceres--largest asteroid

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

April 4, 2015 Total Lunar Eclipse

April 22, 2015 Earth Day

July 14, 2015 New Horizons mission flies by Pluto


Free Online Moons Course
Explore the many moons of our Solar System. Sign up for this eight-week course to explore the rich diversity of moons, the fundamental processes that have shaped them, and the relationship between the Moon and the Earth. You will be under the guidance of experts from The Open University and elsewhere. The course is rich in high-quality text, images, video, audio and interactive elements. Starts Feb. 2, 2015!

The Design of Discovery Workshop
In this K-12 professional development workshop, participants will explore the stories behind amazing NASA missions, from initial concept to science results, with the people who make the missions a reality. Discover how scientists, engineers, and mission operators collaborate to meet the challenges of complex missions to assure that science goals will be met. Hear the latest on emerging science from the New Horizons mission as it begins to return images of Pluto, and follow Dawn as it nears orbit around dwarf planet Ceres. Be the first to learn a new guided engineering, maker-based "design a mission" project to help students understand the relationship between scientific objectives and the engineering and design process. The workshop will be held at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.

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.


I C Ceres
As the Dawn mission explores the dwarf planet Ceres, there will be a Space Science Festival with activities and presentations on May 9, 2015; events will be occuring around the US, and communities are invited to host their own event.

SkyFest Event at LPI in Houston
On Feb. 21, from 1-3pm, LPI will be hosting a free family SkyFest event, with a focus on "Our Star, the Sun!" View the Sun through telescopes using special filters, weather permitting, and discover the Sun through hands-on activities.


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.

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.


2015 Celestial/NASA Mission Events Resources
From eclipses to meteor showers to spacecraft encounters, there is always something happening in our solar system! These events present opportunities for educators to share the excitement of space science and exploration with their audiences. Resources are available through LPI's "Look Up" site for these events.

Know Your Earth Oceans Quiz
The new NASA Know Your Earth "Oceans" Quiz is now live. This is part of NASA's Earth Right Now initiative.

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.


Super-Earths Have Long-Lasting Oceans
New research suggests that planets 2 to 4 times more massive than Earth are better at establishing and maintaining oceans than our own Earth.

Predictions of More Planets in Our Solar System
A team of astronomers predicts that at least two undiscovered planets must exist beyond Neptune and Pluto to explain the orbital behavior of some of the small distant icy objects orbiting our Sun.

Redefining Galaxies
A NASA experiment has detected a surprising amount of infrared light between galaxies, which is thought to be from orphaned stars flung out of galaxies. The findings redefine what scientists think of as galaxies. Galaxies may not have a set boundary of stars, but instead stretch out to great distances, forming a vast, interconnected sea of stars.

Kepler Marks 1,000th Exoplanet Discovery, Uncovers More Small Worlds in Habitable Zones
NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope continuously monitored more than 150,000 stars beyond our solar system, and to date has offered scientists an assortment of more than 4,000 candidate planets for further study -- the 1,000th of which was recently verified.

NASA, NOAA Find 2014 Warmest Year in Modern Record
The year 2014 ranks as Earth’s warmest since 1880, according to two separate analyses by NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists. The 10 warmest years in the instrumental record, with the exception of 1998, have now occurred since 2000. This trend continues a long-term warming of the planet, according to an analysis of surface temperature measurements by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) in New York.
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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.