Lunar and Planetary Institute

Education and Public Outreach

LPI Earth and Space Science Newsletter
June 2006

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Calendar | Workshops and Courses I Grants and Funding | Events/Opportunities | Resources | Mission News and Science



July 3, 2006 – Earth at Aphelion (furthest point in orbit from the Sun)

August 12, 2006 – Perseid Meteor Shower peak

Workshops and Courses

LPI and ARES One-Day Educator Workshops
Offered at the Harris County Department of Education

September 8, 2006 - The Fire Within, Part I: Plate Tectonics & Volcanos
Learn about the different types of volcanos and igneous rocks as we investigate plate tectonics. Once we build an understanding of Earth’s volcanos, we will take a tour of volcanos across the solar system. Participants will receive extensive presentation materials on CD, reference materials, and hands-on activities for the classroom. Part II strongly recommended.  Fee: $75, Credits: 6 CPE hours  Audience: 5th –8th grade Teachers

October 6, 2006 - The Fire Within, Part II: Making Metamorphic and Sedimentary Rocks
Learn to identify different metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, explore how they form, and relate their formation to plate tectonics and the rock cycle. The day will close by examining evidence of these types of rocks on other planets. Participants will receive extensive presentation materials on CD, reference materials, and lesson plans for hands-on classroom activities. Part I strongly recommended.  Fee: $75, Credits: 6 CPE hours  Audience: 5th –8th grade Teachers

Please contact Liliana Maldonado at (713) 696-1306 for registration information, or go to the Harris County Department of Education Web site. For more workshop details or additional workshop listings, visit the HCDE Earth and Space Science Workshops Web site.

In a Different Light: The Universe in Infrared
July 10–14, 2006, a space science workshop for K-12 teachers. The workshop is intended for teachers who want to know the science behind their grade level benchmarks and understand news stories from the space research frontier. Participants will investigate the nature and properties of light and energy and explore NASA-developed internet resources and instructional materials. Please RSVP to Charlotte Ackerman or Caryl Jones.

3RF Science Teacher Astronomy Workshop
The Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus & The Bowen Lodge @ Crowell, Texas are still taking applications for the July 14–16 Science Teacher Astronomy Workshop. The workshop was full but they are expanding the number of participants! The cost is $65 and includes 2 nights lodging @ beautiful Bowen Lodge and 5 meals. Educational Service Centers have approved this workshop for 3 hours of GT credit. Sponsored and Funded By the 3 Rivers Foundation for the Arts & Sciences. Visit the Three Rivers for the Arts and Sciences Web site to make reservations (“Contact Us”).

Summer Online Science Courses
Seminars on Science, the American Museum of Natural History’s (AMNH) program of online professional development courses for K–12 science educators, has extended its $50 discount and registration deadlines for a limited time for the 2006 summer session: July 3–August 13. Visit the American Museum of Natural History's Web site for free sample resources and information. Courses are taught and led by Museum scientists and educators and feature rich web-based discussions. Graduate credit is available (and may meet teacher’s professional development requirements). For complete course details and registration, visit Seminars on Science.

Grants and Funding

Educator Researcher Workshops
The SCORE program offers grants to assist in the development and implementation of local professional development workshops for educators in the SCORE six-state region of Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Workshop design is flexible and should meet the needs of the local community. Funding deadlines are June 15 and January 15.

Educator Researcher Collaborative Projects
The SCORE program offers grants of up to $1000 to collaborative teams of educators and Office of Space Science researchers in the SCORE six-state region of Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.  The grants are intended to help initiate new partnerships between educators and Office of Space Science researchers. Funds can be used to purchase materials and resources to increase student or public understanding of space science content.

Kids In Need Teacher Grants
The SHOPA Kids In Need Foundation awards range from $100 to $500 each and are used to finance creative classroom projects. Typically, 200–300 grants are awarded each year. Applications for 2006–2007 will be available mid-July of 2006.  

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Living and Working on the Moon
Teachers can invite students to design systems that will support living and working on the Moon. The challenge will be to design a combination of facilities that support arriving precisely, living adaptively and working efficiently that will make exploration possible on the Moon and can protect both the explorers and the Moon from contamination. NASA has a growing list of reading materials that will help you get started by visiting Lunar Outpost Design Challenge. If you have any questions you can write to

High School Science Teachers Needed for Curriculum Review
TERC, a not-for-profit educational research and development center in Cambridge, MA, is seeking high school science teachers to participate in the 2006–2007 field test of its Investigating Astronomy curriculum. High school teachers of astronomy, physics, physical science, Earth science, or general science courses are encouraged to apply. Teachers can find more information about the curriculum and apply on-line to be a field test teacher at the Investigating Astronomy Web site. If you have any questions, please contact Senofer Stead by e-mail or phone 617-873-9783.


Science @ NASA Feature Stories Podcast
The mission of Science@NASA is to help the public understand how exciting NASA research is and to help NASA scientists fulfill their outreach responsibilities. There are several ways to listen to the Science@NASA stories in audio.

‘3D-View’ Earth systems Program
This new, NASA-funded curriculum-based program for Grades 5 and 6 encourages students to engage in simple-to-use, immersive 3D technologies with 3D imagery and animations. The program promotes learning the standards-based concepts and practice inquiry in lithosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and Earth systems. The program includes online professional development for 25 participants (six-one hour, live sessions in September 2006), curriculum-materials, formal literacy and mathematics components, assessments and rubrics. Contact Glen Schuster, Project Director, for more information.

 Do You Need a Science Presenter in North Texas?
Three Rivers Foundation (3RF) has representatives across north Texas who are willing to travel to your location to lecture on astronomy, provide star parties with premium equipment, and expand your horizons. These events are open to the public, school groups, and civic groups. 3RF also offers star parties and education at astronomy camps in Comanche Springs.

Essential Science for Teachers: Earth and Space Science
These professional development materials for K-6 educators explore Earth and space science through real-world examples, demonstrations, animations, and interviews with scientists. In-depth interviews with children uncover their ideas about the topic at hand. The 8 one-hour video programs are accompanied by print and Web materials that provide in-class activities and homework explorations.

Earth & Sky Interviews
The Earth & Sky radio series and web site provides a clear voice for science.  Six Earth & Sky interviews have been selected for the My Hero project online, which celebrates those working in science and technology to make a difference around the world.

Stereo Graphics Online
New STEREO graphics and movies are available online for teachers and students. The videos are narrated and include missions, animations explaining coronal mass ejections, photos and even some 3-D movies of mission spacecraft. For more information, contact STEREO classroom activities and space music are at Stereo/Impact.

Space Place Resource on Lasers
The latest “Amazing Fact” on The Space Place describes step by step the basic properties of natural light and the special properties of laser light.  Interactive animations demonstrate the concepts in a simple and fun way. Visit What is a laser? to get a laser- sharp understanding of this form of energy and find out how lasers can help find life on other planets.

NASA Newsbreaks: 21st Century Explorer
The cornerstone of the NASA-designed 21st Century Explorer is a series of newsbreaks and educational materials featuring student actors. These videos address space-related questions and offer engaging responses. NASA KSNN™ Newsbreaks and Noticiencias NASA™ materials are available online for educators. Students in 3rd-5th grades will find hands-on projects, stories and videos in both Spanish and English.

NSTA Reviews
NSTA's online review service, NSTA Recommends, helps you find the best supplemental books, videos, DVDs, and computer software on the market. Their reviewers evaluate each product on the basis of classroom applicability, standards connections, and overall value. Search more than 2,000 reviews by grade level, subject, or keywords at NSTA Recommends.

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Mission News and Science

NASA introduces LCROSS
Modified from: In Search of Water, NASA spacecraft to hit the Moon
NASA recently announced that a small spacecraft has been selected to travel to the moon to look for precious water ice at the lunar south pole. The name of the mission is LCROSS, short for Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite. LCROSS is a secondary payload: It will hitch a ride to the moon onboard the same rocket as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) satellite due to launch from the Kennedy Space Center in October 2008. LCROSS will hunt for water by hitting the moon — twice — throwing up plumes that may contain signs of H2O.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and LCROSS are the first of many robotic missions NASA will conduct between 2008 and 2016 to study, map, and learn about the lunar surface to prepare for the return of astronauts to the moon. These early missions will help determine lunar landing sites and whether resources, such as oxygen, hydrogen, and metals, are available for use in NASA's long-term lunar exploration objectives.

Meteoroid Impacts on the Moon
Modified from: The Sky is Falling and from A Meteroid Hits the Moon

There's a new crater on the Moon. It's about 14 meters wide, 3 meters deep, and NASA astronomers watched it form on May 2, 2006.  The meteoroid hit the Moon's Sea of Clouds (Mare Nubium) with the same energy as 4 tons of TNT. The impact created a bright fireball which scientists video-recorded using a 10-inch telescope.

A ton of meteoroids may hit the Moon every day. For the Apollo astronauts, this wasn't much of a risk - the Moon's a big place, and they didn't stay long. For future long term bases on the Moon, however, things could be riskier. Following the Vision for Space Exploration, NASA is sending astronauts back to the Moon to stay longer and build bigger bases than Apollo astronauts ever did. The odds of something precious being hit will go up.

NASA scientists are using seismic lunar data to calculate the frequency of meteoroid impacts. Clues to how often and how hard the Moon is hit lie in data from four seismometers placed on the Moon by the Apollo 12, 14, 15, and 16 missions during 1969–72. They operated until NASA turned them off in 1977, recording moonquakes and meteoroid strikes. All these data were transmitted to Earth for analysis. In theory, scientists should be able to pick out tremors from objects as small as 10 centimeters (4 inches), weighing as little as 1 kg (2.2 lb). Four inches doesn't sound like much, but traveling at cosmic velocities, a four-inch meteoroid can blast a crater as wide as your desk. According to one model, such meteoroids hit the Moon approximately 400 times a year-more than once a day. The Apollo seismic dataset can test that prediction and many others.

The Dusty Universe
Modified from: A Massive Star's Death and the Dusty Universe

When the universe was only 700 million years old, some of its galaxies were already filled with lots of dust. But where did all of this dust come from? Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope think they may have found the source in type II supernovae, the violent explosions of the universe's most massive stars.

Cosmic dust is an important component of galaxies, stars, planets, and even life. Until recently, astronomers knew of only two places where dust formed: in the outflows of stars that are billions of years old, and in space through the slow condensation of molecules. Neither of these explains how the universe got so dusty only a few hundred million years after its birth. Astronomers have theorized that the missing dust might be produced in supernova explosions, but evidence for this has been hard to find.

Using the space-based Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes and the ground-based Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii, astronomers found a significant amount of heated dust in the remains of a massive star called supernova SN 2003gd. This work shows supernovae produce copious amounts of dust; supernova explosions could account for much of the dust in the early universe.

Lunar Prospecting

Modified from: Hard-nosed Advice to Lunar Prospectors

Did you know that as NASA moves towards a future colony on the Moon and Mars, mining and prospecting are going to be key skills for settlers? NASA can send settlers air and water and fuel from Earth, but eventually, they'll have to learn to live off the land, using local resources to meet their needs. On the Moon, for instance, mission planners hope to find water frozen in the dark recesses of polar craters. Water can be split into hydrogen for rocket fuel and oxygen for breathing. Water is also good for drinking and as a bonus it is one of the best known radiation shields. Unlike here on Earth, deposits on the Moon aren't so well understood. Is lunar ice widespread or patchy, deep or shallow? Does it even exist? It will take unmanned missions to find answers to these questions before we can even imagine sending humans to live there for extended periods of time.


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Last updated
May 2, 2007