Lunar and Planetary Institute

LPI Earth and Space Science Newsletter

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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


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.

Rice University Astronomy for Teachers
"Astronomy for Teachers" wil be offered fall 2014 at Rice University starting Aug 25 (last class Dec 1) on Mondays, 6-9 pm. Can be participated in REMOTELY using Zoom. Several observing times at the Rice Campus Observatory, and at least one overnight at George Observatory for observing. Course cost: $1200 plust $140 in fees for three hours of graduate credit, which includes homework, quizzes, and a presentation to the class. If you just want to audit without credit, a tax-deductible donation of $300 per course is requested. Course credit can be applied to the Rice Master of Science Teaching program.

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.


Houston SkyFest at LPI: International Observe the Moon Night
The Lunar and Planetary Institute, with assistance from the JSC Astronomical Society, offers SkyFest on Sept. 6 for the International Observe the Moon Night. SkyFest, a free event, is open to explorers of all ages, and includes hands-on activities as well as viewing through telescopes (weather permitting).

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.

International Observe the Moon Night
In just one month, on 06 September 2014, the whole world will collectively admire and celebrate our moon on International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN)! We invite you to join in the fun! Check the map of registered InOMN events to see if there’s an event being held near you. If not, please consider hosting one and inviting your patrons, friends, or neighbors. The website includes suggestions on planning your event, resources, and a variety of hands-on activities.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Titan Has Very Salty Ocean
Data from NASA's Cassini mission indicates that Saturn's moon Titan has an extremely salty ocean beneath its icy crust. The results come from a study of gravitational and topographic data collected during Cassini's flybys of Titan.

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.