NASA has announced the release of Vesta Trek, a free, web-based application that provides detailed visualizations of Vesta, one of the largest asteroids in our solar system. Data gathered from multiple instruments aboard Dawn have been compiled into Vesta Trek’s user-friendly set of tools, enabling citizen scientists and students to study the asteroid’s features. The application includes interactive maps, 3-D printer-exportable topography, and standard keyboard gaming controls to maneuver a first-person visualization of “flying” across the surface of the asteroid.
On Saturday morning, April 4, 2015, not long before sunrise, the bright full moon over North America should turn a lovely shade of celestial red during a total lunar eclipse. The lunar eclipse will be visible from all parts of the United States, and a telescope is not needed to view it– just find the Moon in the sky and enjoy. That morning, NASA astronomer Mitzi Adams will take questions via Twitter @NASA_Marshall. For Twitter questions, use the hashtag #eclipse2015. The question and answer via twitter will begin at 6 am EDT and continue through the end of the eclipse (approximately 8:00 am EDT).
If in the Washington DC area, check out the new “Three Rovers” exhibit at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM). Located in NASM’s Explore the Planets Gallery, the exhibit features full scale replicas of three generations of rovers that have successfully landed on Mars, including Curiosity, a Sojourner flight spare named the Marie Curie, and Opportunity.
Registration is now open for the next Cosmic Explorations Speaker Series presentation. Dr. Britney Schmidt of the Georgia Institute of Technology will present “The Europa Report: A Report” on April 9 at 7:30 pm. This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required to attend. Join us at the LPI for this educational and entertaining event.
April 2015 is Hubble Space Telescope Month. The NASA Educator Professional Development Collaborative at Texas State University is providing six 1-hour webinars during the month of April to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. Educators are invited to attend and learn how to incorporate exciting images, videos, and activities into classroom instruction for students of all ages. Register online.
“What is our place in the Universe?” Throughout human history, astronomy has repeatedly overthrown our understanding of this question and new telescopes and astronomers continue to do so. Join Jason Kalirai of the Space Telescope Science Institute on April 1 at 6:30 pm EDT as he explores 6,000 years of human astronomy, showcases the biggest discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope, including some of his own work, and ponders current mysteries of the Universe that may be unlocked by NASA’s next flagship telescopes. This talk is open to the public and accessible to all ages. It will be webcast for those who cannot attend. Find out more online and register soon.
Watch the documentary film “Desert Moon” online for free. This 35-minute film tells the story of Dr. Gerard Kuiper and the dawn of planetary science. The film was produced by Jason Davis of the Planetary Society and is narrated by astronaut Mark Kelly.
Fifty years ago today on March 23, 1965, the first manned Gemini mission was flown. Astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom and John Young made three orbits around the Earth in 4 hours and 52 minutes. The Gemini program defined and tested the skills NASA would need to go to the Moon in the 1960s and ‘70s and had four main goals: to test an astronaut’s ability to fly long-duration missions; to understand how spacecraft could rendezvous and dock in orbit around the Earth and the moon; to perfect re-entry and landing methods; and to further understand the effects of longer space flights on astronauts. Find out more at NASA’s online presentation “Gemini: A Bridge to the Moon.”
Miss one of the many events at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference this past week? There are video recordings and PDF presentations of lots of the events on the LPSC website.
March is Women’s History Month. Women at NASA embody this year’s theme ”Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives” through their accomplishments and dedication to their jobs. They serve as role models to young women in their pursuit of careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Read about the accomplishments of some of NASA’s women engineers, scientists, educators, interns and others at the NASA Women of STEM website.