Lunar and Planetary Institute

LPI Earth and Space Science Newsletter

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October 27 - October 31, 2014 Fall 2014 Solar Week

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

July 14, 2015 New Horizons mission flies by Pluto


Free Small Bodies Workshop in Tucson
There will be a free workshop 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. When: Sunday, November 9, 8:30am- 5:00pm (lunch included) Where: JW Marriott Starr Pass, Tucson, Arizona. Registration closes Oct. 24.


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.

Tucson Science Educators' Day (EDAY)
The Optical Society is hosting a Science Educators’ Day (EDAY) in Tuscon, Oct 22, 5-8 pm. The guest speaker will be Dr. Michael Raymer, a physicist and Phillip H. Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Oregon.


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


Texas Medical Association Outstanding Science Teacher Award
The Texas Medical Association Outstanding Science Teacher Award recognizes teachers who exhibit a personal commitment and enthusiasm for teaching any area of science. Three Texas science teachers will receive $5,000 each. Their schools will receive $2,000 awards. Three additional science departments will receive $1,000 each as second-place winners. Nominations for this award will be accepted through October 25, 2014.

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.


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.

Explore Earth Science ‘Big Ideas’ in Videos, Classroom Activities
AGI offers award-winning videos and related classroom activities to help students, educators, and others explore the "big ideas" of Earth science, and has added dozens of additional activities selected specifically to help educators teach about core concepts of Earth science.


Evidence of Plate Tectonics on Europa
Evidence of plate tectonics on Jupiter’s moon Europa is the first sign of this type of surface-shifting geological activity on a world other than Earth. Researchers have observed visual evidence for expansion of Europa's icy crust, and now have evidence for subduction as well.

Tiny Galaxy Has Huge Black Hole
Supermassive black holes have been found at the centers of most large galaxies and often are related to the mass of the galaxy. In a new discovery that challenges current models of supermassive black hole formation, astronomers have found one inside a tiny galaxy.

Earth's Water Older than the Solar System
New research suggests that much of the water on Earth and in the early Solar System was inherited as ice from interstellar space, increasing the likelihood that similar ices and organic matter are abundant in the materials forming other stars and planets.

MAVEN Reaches Mars
NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft is now in orbit around Mars. MAVEN is studying Mars' upper atmosphere in order to better understand its history and how Mars' climate has changed over time.

Arctic Sea Ice Continues to Decline
Arctic sea ice coverage continued its below-average trend this year as the ice declined to its annual minimum on Sept. 17. 2014 Arctic seas ice coverage is the sixth lowest recorded since 1978.

Earth Observing Instruments on the ISS
NASA is taking the International Space Station's Earth-observing capabilities to a whole new level. Before the end of the decade, six NASA Earth science instruments will be mounted to the station to help scientists study our changing planet. Instruments will moniter ocean winds, clouds, airborne particles. Gases in the atmosphere, lightning, and more to better understand weather, pollution, thunderstorms, the ozone layer, and climate change.

Milky Way Part of Newly Identified Supercluster
Astronomers have determined that our Milky Way galaxy is part of a massive supercluster of galaxies. The Milky Way is in the outskirts of this Laniakea Supercluster, which is 500 million light years wide and contains 100,000 galaxies.