Lunar and Planetary Institute

LPI Earth and Space Science Newsletter

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October 27 - October 31, 2014 Fall 2014 Solar Week

December 13, 2014 Geminid Meteor Shower

December 21, 2014 Winter Solstice

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

July 14, 2015 New Horizons mission flies by Pluto


Teacher Workshop in Tucson, "Small Worlds: Big Discoveries"
There will be a free workshop on Nov. 9 for science educators of grades 5-12 on small bodies in the solar system in conjunction with the Division of Planetary Sciences annual meeting! Small Worlds: Big Discoveries will discuss how asteroids and comets have shaped our understanding of the history and evolution of our solar system. Registration closes on Oct. 31.

MAVEN Workshop in NY -- Red Planet: Read, Write, Explore!
Join the MAVEN education team for a one-day workshop on the MAVEN mission, and the accompanying elementary program, Red Planet: Read, Write, Explore! This program features six standards-based lessons that combine science, literacy and art to help students understand planetary habitability and the MAVEN mission. The workshop will take place on Nov. 15, 2014, in Queens, New York. Registration is $15 and includes a continental breakfast and lunch. Applications are due Nov. 12, 2014.

NASA Webinar: Know Your Earth Series-Part 1: Studying Earths Changes
Participants will get an overview of Earth Science at NASA and the educational opportunities offered by NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Join this webinar on Nov. 5 at 4pm Eastern to learn more about how you can play a part in bringing NASA Earth Mission activities to life within the walls of your classroom.

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.


2014 Humans in Space Art Video Challenge
Join NASA’s International Space Station Program and Humans in Space Art in a journey of exploration. Interested college students and early career professionals worldwide are invited to influence the future of life on Earth and human space exploration. Individuals and teams should submit a three minute video capturing their visions of "How will space, science and technology benefit humanity?" Video artwork may be any style. Younger participants may submit a video, but artwork from artists of all ages will be judged together. Entries are due November 15, 2014. The individual or team that creates the first place overall video will be awarded $5000 by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), and winning artwork will be given worldwide visibility and flown in orbit on the International Space Station.

Free Presentation on Earth's Structure at LPI
The next presentation in the Lunar and Planetary Institute’s 2014-2015 Cosmic Explorations Speaker Series, "Science" on the Silver Screen, is Nov. 6. LPI scientist Dr. Walter Kiefer will discuss the scientific accuracies and inaccuracies presented in the movie "The Core." LPI’s Cosmic Explorations presentation begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be followed by a light reception. Registration is free but will be required.


Sally Ride EarthKAM 2014 Fall Mission
Students and educators are invited to participate in Sally Ride EarthKAM this fall. The 2014 fall mission is scheduled to take place Nov. 4-7, 2014. Guide your students in hands-on research as they program a camera aboard the International Space Station to take pictures of specific locations on Earth.

Send Your Name on the First Orion Flight and Beyond!
NASA is inviting the public to send their names on a microchip to future exploration sites. Your name will begin its journey on a dime-sized microchip when the agency′s Orion spacecraft launches Dec. 4, 2014, on its first flight, designated Exploration Flight Test-1. After returning to Earth, the names will fly on future NASA exploration flights and missions to Mars. The deadline for receiving a personal "boarding pass″ on Orion′s test flight closes Oct. 31, 2014.

IGES 2014 Art Contest for Grades 2-4: Wild for Wilderness
The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) invites young scientists and artists in grades 2-4 to learn about preserving wilderness by taking a walk in nature, observing it, and expressing what they see or feel through art. Students should then create a colorful and creative art capturing what is special or interesting to them about nature and why we protect it. Deadline: Nov. 14.

MY NASA DATA Seeking Volunteer Master Teachers for Advisory Board
The MY NASA DATA team is seeking elementary, middle, and high school teachers to serve as Master Teachers on a new MY NASA DATA Advisory Board. Selected teachers will use their classroom experience and expertise to help improve the MY NASA DATA project, which provides real NASA data, lesson plans, and activities for use in classrooms. Applications are due Dec. 15, 2014.

Mercury Explorers Student Principal Investigator Program
Student teams will have the opportunity to learn about Mercury in new and exciting ways! Through the use of mission software, students will have the opportunity to explore the surface of Mercury, and possibly have their work featured on the MESSENGER website. Through the Student PI program, students will gain experience in technical and scientific skills as well as practice in essential soft skills such as teamwork, public speaking, asking thoughtful questions, and research methodology. The program is free and open to teams of students across the country, high school through college.

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.

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


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.

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.


Free Mapping Our World Activities
Mapping Our World was developed to enhance GIS learning for students of all levels and to provide teachers with comprehensive and easy-to-use resources for GIS instruction in the classroom. Free materials are available online to download.

NASA Know Your Earth "Extreme Weather" Quiz
The latest Know Your Earth Quiz, "Extreme Weather" is now live! Test your skill and feel free to share far and wide on your social media sites.

Space Racers′ Space/STEM Educator Toolkit
Space Racers is a new, original animated TV series that provides young children with exposure to key aspects of STEM curricula. Lesson plans can be previewed and downloaded from the Parents & Educators section of the Space Racers website

New LPI Education Website: Look Up!
Calling all educators! Are you looking for ideas to create new and exciting programs for your audiences? Celestial events (eclipses, meteor showers, etc.) are seen frequently from Earth while, in this age of planetary exploration, NASA spacecraft are often reaching important mission milestones. Use these celestial events and NASA mission milestones as unique opportunities to engage your audiences in solar system science and exploration! The Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, TX has created a new website called "Look Up!" containing resources, ideas, and tips for educators looking to create programs centered on solar system events. Visit us for programming ideas and events happening in 2014 (including Comet Siding Spring’s October 19th close encounter with Mars), 2015, and beyond!

NASA’s Space Place Educational Game: Offset!
NASA’s Space Place has a new educational game, Offset! Take matters into your own hands and help cut back on carbon emissions to slow the pace of global warming. Part pong, part resource-management, and 100% retro, this game is challenging, exciting, and educational. Players learn how the global carbon cycle works, about different sources of carbon, and about the ways alternative energy and restoration can help offset those resources.

NASA’s Climate Kids: Galleries of Change
NASA’s Climate Kids presents eight galleries that show rapidly changing climate conditions on our planet. This visual tool gives individuals the chance to explore climate change by highlighting key areas such as weather and climate, fresh water, air, oceans, energy sources, plants and animals, and technology.

eBook Reach for the Stars
"Reach for the Stars: Touch, Look, Listen, Learn" is a free eBook that can be downloaded from the iBook store, and is aimed at a Middle School audience but is appropriate for many ages. The eBook takes advantage of all the accessibility features (such as VoiceOver) available on an iPad to convince children with disabilities that they too can be seen pushing the barriers of science. Tactile overlays are available to help visually impaired people to explore graphs and Hubble Space Telescope images. Supplemental material has been designed for educators - and in particular for educators of children with disabilities - to show how to take full advantage of these eBook capabilities.


"Magic Island" Appears and Disappears on Titan
A feature seen by Cassini scientists on Saturn's largest moon, Titan, has reappeared in radar data after disappearing for 13 months. Its physical appearance has changed rather significantly, doubling in size to almost 60 square miles. Scientists suspect that the feature's appearance and disappearance may be the result of changing seasons on Titan.

Tidal Forces Resurfaced Miranda
Uranus' moon Miranda looks as though it was pieced together from parts that didn’t quite fit together properly. A variety of models for this appearance have been examined over the years. Scientists have new evidence that some of the surface features may be due to tidal warming.

Milky Way Deficient in Dark Matter?
Although astronomers have gathered overwhelming evidence that dark matter makes up roughly 84 percent of the universe’s matter, they remain unsure about any specifics. Now, a group of astronomers has found evidence suggesting there’s only half as much dark matter in the Milky Way as previously thought.

‘Heavy Metal’ Frost on Venus?
Researchers re-examining information from the completed NASA Magellan mission found signs of what could be "heavy metal" frost on the 900 degree F surface. What the researchers saw in radio-wave reflectance is the highlands appear brighter, with dark spots in the tallest locations, possibly due to a temperature dependent metal compound precipitating from the air.

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.

MAVEN at Mars
After 10-month voyage across more than 400 million miles of empty space, NASA's MAVEN spacecraft reached Mars on Sept. 21st 2014. MAVEN is on a mission to investigate a planetary mystery. Billions of years ago, Mars was blanketed by an atmosphere massive enough to warm the planet and allow liquid water to flow on its surface. Today only a tiny fraction of that ancient air remains. What happened to the atmosphere of Mars? MAVEN will attempt to answer the question by studying the upper atmosphere, where gaseous material could be lost to space.

Evidence for Young Lunar Volcanism
NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has provided researchers strong evidence the moon’s volcanic activity slowed gradually instead of stopping abruptly a billion years ago. Scores of distinctive lunar rock deposits are estimated to be less than 100 million years old and some areas may be less than 50 million years old. These findings contradict prior estimates of how cool the Moon's interior is.