Lunar and Planetary Institute

Education and Public Outreach

LPI Earth and Space Science Newsletter
October 2005

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

Workshops and Courses

Astronomy Connections at the Adler Planetarium
Librarians, teachers, administrators… take on the role of students and participate in hands-on activities, problem solving, teamwork and collaboration all while learning exciting science content at the Adler Planetarium. Through this program, participants will come out with an understanding of the Sun's impact on the Earth, and the nature of scientific investigations. Teachers will also receive training in web-based technology. Included in the package are:

Sept. 24, Oct. 15, Oct. 29, Nov. 19, Dec. 10, and Jan. 7 (Attend all 5 sessions or call for other options). If you have further questions, please contact Karen Swade at 312.294.0349 or Amanda Maynard at 312.322.0549.

Grants and Funding

2005 IDEAS Grants Available! - the Initiative to Develop Education through Astronomy and Space Science (IDEAS) Grant Program provides start-up funding to explore innovative, creative ways to integrate astronomy and space science into United States education and public outreach venues through partnerships between the astronomers/space scientists and education professionals. The amount of funding available is up to $20,000 for programs to be completed in one year and up to $50,000 for programs that may require up to two years to complete. The deadline for submitting a 2005 IDEAS proposal is Friday, 21 October 2005, 5:00 p.m. ET. For more information visit the IDEAS Web site.

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. 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. 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.

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Interact Online with Scientists behind the CALIPSO and CloudSat missions
While final preparations are being made for launch of NASA's CALIPSO and CloudSat satellites, kids and educators will have an opportunity to interact online with the scientists behind the missions.

GLOBE invites K-12 students and teachers to take part in a Web-based question-and-answer forum, Oct. 17–21. Participants will learn about the satellites and how they will study aerosols, clouds and climate. Additional Web links and information about ways to get involved with these NASA missions will also be provided. Content will be available in English and French.

The forum will be asynchronous so you can post your questions at any time during Oct. 17–21. Link to the live forum. This site also includes instructions and helpful hints for participation. Internet access is the only requirement for participation. If you aren't able to participate in the live event, the forum will be archived.

CALIPSO and CloudSat are scheduled for launch on Oct. 26. Students can help scientists judge the accuracy of data collected by the satellites through GLOBE, an international science education program. GLOBE students observe the sky and collect data at the same time a satellite passes over their school. The two sets of data — from the ground and from space — are later compared.

GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) is an interagency program funded by NASA and NSF, supported by the U.S. Department of State, and implemented through a cooperative agreement between NASA, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, and Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.

For more information, visit the GLOBE Website.

Engineer and Science Mentors Needed!
The 2006 Future City Competition helps foster interest in engineering and science for 7 th and 8 th grade students through hands on computer modeling, essay writing, oral presentation and model building. Volunteers are needed in Chicago and over 30 other cities nationwide to help plan the competition, be a mentor to a school, or be a judge for the competition in January.

Please call Don Wittmer at (312) 930-9119, e-mail or Aruch Poonsapaya at to sign up or to get more information. For more information, visit the Current News Web site.

Space Day 2006 Design Challenges
Lockheed Martin's 2006 Space Day Design Challenges explores “Living and Working on the Moon.” Design Challenges are open to children ages 9–13. The deadline for submission is February 1, 2006. Stellar Design Challenge teams will be selected by the Space Day Educational Advisory Committee and recognized at the Space Day Opening Ceremony on Thursday, May 4, 2006, in Washington, D.C. Spark the children's interest in space science by getting involved in the design challenges! For more details visit the Space Day Web site or contact: Kay Armstrong, Space Day Program Manager.


Want to find a local astronomy club? Go to Sky and Telescope's Clubs and Organizations page. Select the kind of organization in which you are interested (e.g., club, planetarium, museum, etc.) and list your city and state. You will get a list of organizations with contact information. A great way to find out about astronomy events in your community!

Einstein's Universe
Check out this Web site based upon Einstein's revolutionary ideas of the past. The site offers an interactive demonstration that models the ways in which we explore distance and motion in the universe. Several types of general astronomy resources are also offered for educators including printed guides about our universe and other cosmic questions, images, space science animations, NASA mission features and a speaker's bureau. The speaker's bureau has opportunities for interactions between scientists and informal educators across the country.

Earth Observatory
The Earth Observatory site offers a variety of scientific features that should interest most science educators. Along with the wonderful imagery, the site includes the latest scientific discoveries, science news, mission news and experiments. Topics featured include the latest on global warming, biomes, natural disasters and more. Students can benefit from experiments on satellite imagery, remote sensing, color imaging processes, and graphing. For more visit:

Imagine Mars
The Imagine Mars Project site provides red planet lesson plans and resources that library staff members can share with teachers. There is a project gallery that lets you view completed projects related to Mars from all over the world. See what others have done pertaining to Mars and learn from your peers!


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Mission News and Science

Messenger Update
Launched in August 2004, the MESSENGER solar-powered spacecraft is almost 600 million miles into a 5 billion mile voyage that includes 14 more loops around the Sun. MESSENGER — short for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging — will fly past Venus twice and Mercury three times before moving into orbit. These events will help MESSENGER maneuver into a year-long first-ever orbit around Mercury in 2011.

Mercury is the least explored of the terrestrial planets — a group that includes Venus, Earth and Mars. During one Earth year (four Mercury years), MESSENGER will provide the first images of the entire planet. It will collect detailed information about the composition and structure of Mercury's crust, its geologic history, nature of its atmosphere and magnetosphere, makeup of its core and polar materials. For more information, pictures, and some activities for children, visit the Messenger Web site.

Cassini Reveals Active, Watery Enceladus
Saturn's tiny icy moon Enceladus, which ought to be cold and dead, instead displays evidence for active ice volcanism. NASA's Cassini spacecraft — a joint NASA/European Space Agency/Italian Space Agency mission — has found a huge cloud of water vapor over the moon's south pole, and warm fractures where evaporating ice probably supplies the vapor cloud. Cassini has also confirmed Enceladus is the major source of Saturn's largest ring, the E-ring.

Cassini flew within about 110 miles of Enceladus on July 14 and confirmed the presence of an extended and dynamic atmosphere. The atmosphere contains mostly water vapor, with some hydrogen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. The presence of the water vapor may suggest that there is a local source, such as a geothermal hotspot. The fact the atmosphere persists on this low-gravity world, instead of escaping into space, suggests Enceladus is geologically active enough to replenish the water vapor at a slow continuous rate.

Cassini's cosmic dust analyzer detected a large increase in the number of particles near Enceladus. This observation confirms Enceladus is a source of Saturn's E-ring. Scientists think micrometeoroids blast the particles off, forming a steady, icy, dust cloud around Enceladus. Some of these particles escape, helping to form Saturn's E ring.

The mission is celebrating its eighth anniversary this month!

Additional information about the mission can be found at the Cassini-Huygens Web site. For all sorts of educational materials, check out this site . And for some great images check here.

Rover Update - Still Going!
Modified from:

As of August 26, 2005 , nearly 500 Martian days (sols) past its projected expiration date, the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has climbed to the top of Husband Hill, part of the Columbia Hills, overlooking Gusev Crater. The rover provided images of large sand drifts and active, seasonal dust devils across the basin. Spirit will continue to explore the landscape driving only every other sol. The next step, according to the rover scientists, is to survey the area for a safe route back down the hill.

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Last updated
May 2, 2007