Monthly Archives: July 2010

Cassini Scientist for a Day Essay Contest – Entries Due October 27, 2010

image of child with telescope looking at the night skyThe Cassini Scientist for a Day contest challenges students to become NASA scientists studying Saturn. Participants examine three possible observations taken by Cassini and choose the one they think will yield the best scientific results. This choice must then be supported in a 500-word essay. Teaming up is encouraged. Winners will participate in a teleconference with Cassini scientists.

The contest is open to all students in the United States from grades 5-12, working alone or in groups of up to four students. The essays will be divided into three groups: grades 5-6, 7-8 and 9-12. All submissions must be students’ original work. Each student can submit only one entry.

Deadline for Fall 2010 submissions is noon Pacific time (3 p.m. EDT) on Oct. 27, 2010.
For more information, visit

Updated Webcast list for NASA’s DLN

NASA’s Summer of Innovation is a multi-faceted, intensive middle school program focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, (STEM), projects, with a pilot program beginning the summer of 2010. The Summer of Innovation is designed to improve STEM teaching and learning in partnership with federal agencies, academic and informal organizations, nonprofits, and industry. The Summer of Innovation Website is:

The DLN will present weekly webcasts featuring NASA Experts starting June 15th through August 19th. Presenters will cover topics related to the 6 Summer of Innovation themes: Aeronautics, Life, Universe, Mother Earth Father Sky, Robotics, and Rocketry. Topics will be presented twice each week on Tuesdays at 11:00 am EDT and Thursdays at 4:00 pm EDT.

WEBCAST SCHEDULE All Times: Eastern Daylight Savings Time

June 15th (11:00 am) and 17th (4:00 pm) : NASA Langley Research Center (Theme: Mother Earth Father Sky) Guest Expert: Atmospheric Scientist Erika Alston focusing on the topic of Aerosols and understanding their importance to everyone on our planet. View the recorded show here.

June 22nd (11:00 am) and 24th (4:00 pm) : NASA Kennedy Space Center (Theme: Mother Earth Father Sky) Guest Expert: Environmentalist Rebecca Bolt focusing on Kennedy Space Center’s interaction with the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge and what they do to protect this vital natural resource. View the recorded show here.

June 29th (11:00 am) and July 1st (4:00 pm) : NASA Stennis Space Center (Theme: Rocketry) Guest Expert: Systems Engineer for Propulsion Test Projects, Christine Powell, will focus on the main line of business at SSC, Propulsion Testing, and perform a hands-on demonstration about cryogenics. View the recorded show here.

July 6th (11:00 am) and 8th (4:00 pm) : NASA Johnson Space Center (Theme: Life) Guest Expert: Crew Habitability Trainer Scott Weinstein focusing on the how astronauts must be trained to adapt to the environment of space. View the recorded show here.

July 13th (11:00 am) and 15th (4:00 pm) : NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (Theme: Universe) Guest Expert: Aerospace Engineer and Hubble Space Telescope Project’s Extravehicular Activity Manager Russell Werneth sharing the discoveries of this fantastic mission. The archive of this presentation will be available for download soon.

July 20th (11:00 am) and 22nd (4:00 pm) : NASA Glenn Research Center (Theme: Aeronautics) Guest Expert: Aeronautical Engineer Tom Benson and Educational Coordinator Roger Storm focusing on the contributions of the Wright Brothers to aeronautics. The archive of this presentation will be available for download soon.

July 27th (11:00 am) and 29th (4:00 pm) : NASA Dryden Flight Research Center (Theme: Aeronautics) Guest Expert: Flight Surgeon Gregg Bendrick focusing on his career as a flight surgeon.

August 3 (11:00 am) and 5th (4:00 pm) : NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (Theme: Rocketry) Guest Expert: Aerospace Engineer Tristan Curry focusing on the early history, development, and future of rocket propulsion.

August 10th (11:00 am) and 12th (4:00 pm) : NASA Ames Research Center (Theme: Life) Guest Expert: Kepler Mission Co-Investigator Edna DeVore focusing on the topic of Kepler searching for life beyond our solar system.

August 17th (11:00 am) and 19th (4:00 pm) : NASA Jet Propulsion Lab (Theme: Robotics)
NASA Jet Propulsion Lab (Theme: Robotics)

Archived versions of each webcast will be made available after the premiere date. Visit the NASA Digital Learning Network to watch current and archived programming:

Full Length Documentary About the Apollo Missions, For All Mankind, Available Free Online

For All Mankind - a film by Al ReinertFor All Mankind, directed by Al Reinert, documents the NASA Apollo missions using original NASA footage.  The film, including NASA communication recordings and astronaut interviews, offers an in depth and first-hand look at the Apollo program and people as it evolved.  Now, thanks to Hulu, this fantastic documentary is available to watch free online!

Visit the Hulu website to watch the film:

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NASA’s Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program Seeks Proposals From Undergraduate Students – Deadline October 27, 2010

NASA is offering undergraduate students an opportunity to test experiments in microgravity aboard NASA’s reduced gravity aircraft.Student Reduced Gravity Flight Program

The opportunity is part of NASA’s Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program, which gives aspiring explorers a chance to propose, design and fabricate a reduced-gravity experiment. Selected teams will test and evaluate their experiment aboard NASA’s reduced-gravity airplane. The aircraft flies about 30 roller-coaster-like climbs and dips during experiment flights to produce periods of weightlessness and hypergravity ranging from 0 g to 2 g.

Proposals are due Oct. 27, 2010.

Interested students also should submit a letter of intent by Sept. 22, 2010. This step is optional but serves as an introductory notice that a team plans to submit a proposal for the upcoming competition.

NASA will announce selected teams Dec. 8, 2010. The teams will fly in the summer of 2011. Once selected, teams also may invite a full-time, accredited journalist to fly with them and document the team’s experiment and experiences. All applicants must be full-time undergraduate students, U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old.

To learn more about this opportunity, visit
Questions about this opportunity should be e-mailed to

Vote Now for the Next Desert RATS Exploration Site

NASA is inviting the public to choose an area in northern Arizona where explorers will conduct part of the annual Desert Research and Technology Studies, known as Desert RATS.

“Desert RATS is an annual test where NASA takes equipment and crews into the field to simulate future planetary exploration missions,” said Joe Kosmo, Desert RATS manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “We want the public to be a part of this.”

From July 27 through Aug. 8, 2010, space enthusiasts can vote where to send the Desert RATS team, which includes engineers, scientists and astronauts. To cast your vote, visit

The website features interactive panoramic images of lava, rocks and desert for the public to choose as the most interesting destination to explore. The location that receives the most votes will be announced Aug. 16, 2010. Astronauts will visit that site to perform field geology and collect rock samples.

The Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., took the panoramic images of terrain and geologic features in early 2009 at Black Point Lava Flow in Arizona.

“It is essential to involve the public in NASA’s exploration program to engage and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers,” said IRG Director Terry Fong. “We want people of all ages to be able to actively participate, contribute and collaborate in meaningful ways to NASA’s activities.”

The Desert Rats 2010 mission also involves field testing two space exploration vehicles, which could allow astronauts to spend two or more weeks living, working and traveling across different planets. Astronauts will use two such vehicles to explore a lava flow and test data collection methods, communications protocols, mission operations and advanced technology. Desert RATS is sponsored by NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate.

For more information about Desert RATS, visit

New NASA Website Aims to Engage and Educate Advanced High School Students

Advanced students require challenging materials to keep them focused on their studies and to help provide them insight into the limitless array of options in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields.

NASA’s Math and Science @ Work project offers challenging supplemental problems based on space exploration topics. This project engages students by providing real-world applications to promote critical thinking and problem-solving while exposing students to careers in space exploration.

These problems are for high school students in advanced classes, grades 10-12, and are formatted in a free-response style. Problems are available for calculus, physics, biology, chemistry, U.S. history and human geography.

Visit the Math and Science @ Work website at

Call for Proposals: Key Moments in SpaceFlight – Deadline Oct 15, 2010

The NASA History Division and the National Air and Space Museum’s Division of Space History invite proposals for presentations to be held at its joint symposium, “1961/1981: Key Moments in Human Spaceflight,” at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., on 26-27 April 2011. This symposium reflects on 50 years of human spaceflight using these two key dates in time as an entrée for broader investigation and insight. The symposium coincides with four significant anniversaries in the history of human spaceflight: Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s inaugural human orbit of the Earth on 12 April 1961; the U.S.’s first human spaceflight with American astronaut Alan Shepard on 5 May 1961; the announcement on 25 May 1961 of the U.S. decision to go to the Moon by the end of the decade; and the Space Shuttle’s first flight into orbit on 12 April 1981. All four events resulted from a unique set of ideas, circumstances, and geopolitics which established a trajectory for future human operations in space. Although there will be a few invited speakers, most presentations will result from responses to the call for papers.

Accordingly, scholars from all disciplines, fields, and subject areas are invited to propose individual papers on aspects of the 1961/1981 theme. We especially invite graduate students and scholars newly entering the study of the history of spaceflight. The symposium will focus on new analytical insights and fresh scholarly analyses from a variety of social science and humanistic perspectives. Individual presentations will be scheduled for 20 minutes each and grouped by the conference organizers into thematically coherent panels that leave ample time for audience discussion.

Key questions of special interest to the symposium’s organizers include the following:
• What were the political, economic, social, and cultural factors that help explain the situation concerning human spaceflight in 1961? In 1981?
• What did it mean to be an astronaut or a cosmonaut in 1961, in 1981, and how has this changed over time from social, cultural, transnational, and institutional perspectives?
• What geopolitical factors have affected the manner in which various nations have approached the issue of human spaceflight?
• What does it mean for nations to be part of an elite “club” of human spacefarers?
• What goals in human spaceflight existed at various moments in the history of the space age? Have these changed over time and why?
• How might transnational historical themes, rather than nationalist perspectives, be deployed to understand these moments in time?
• What cultural influences (such as fiction, advertising, literature, art, music, labor movements, and globalism) help to explain these experiences?
• What technological developments drove the seizing of the two moments in 1961 and 1981to take human spaceflight in directions not achievable before?
• How have national approaches been different from each other in terms of their treatment of launch vehicles, human factors in space, selection and training of astronauts, cultural treatment of astronauts, and the like?
• What are the social, cultural, and political ramifications of these 1961/1981 moments in time and the place of fifty years of human spaceflight?
• What is the legacy of human spaceflight?
• What new insights might we explore about the different approaches that the U.S., the U.S.S.R./Russia, and China have taken to human spaceflight?
• What have we learned about national space agencies versus transnational consortia such as the European Space Agency versus private sector investment in human spaceflight capabilities?

Proposals may address any area of human spaceflight history related to the 1961/1981 theme. Proposals should be relatively brief (1-2 page abstracts would be fine) and should include a c.v. Proposals are due by 15 October 2010, with a decision made about selection for presentation by 31 December 2010.

Please send proposals to: Roger D. Launius (launiusr at and/or Steve Garber (stephen.j.garber at

Free Online Professional Development Courses for Teachers

NASA’s Learning Environments and Research Network and the Georgia Institute of Technology have teamed up to create the ePDN, a new initiative dedicated to preparing K-12 teachers to engage their students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) through the use of NASA-developed learning materials and resources.

If you are looking for a way to enhance your instructional skills, meet your professional development goals, or find new and exciting resources to use in your learning environments, apply to one of our free courses today!

Applications are now open for courses starting this fall:

Observations, Experiments & Two Variable Data — This course will help teachers implementing the new Common Core high school math standards to brush up on statistics content. Participants will examine two-variable data relationships using scatter plots, time series and two-way tables. Attention will be given to measuring the strength of association, modeling of associations and explaining variability. The target audience is high school mathematics teachers without AP statistics backgrounds.

Getting Started in Robotics — During this first course in the Using Robotics to Enhance STEM Learning, participants will learn how to program the LEGO NXT Mindstorms robot. Participants will become familiar with LEGO vocabulary and parts of the LEGO Mindstorms kit as they build structural components of a robot and use math, science and engineering principles to design, build, test and operate their robots.

Vodcasts — In this course, participants will learn how to use audio and video editing tools to create new content for vodcasts that can be used in classroom lessons or created by their students. Participants will create vodcasts using NASA materials and resources.

To apply, please visit
For more information on the ePDN and the resources it offers to K-12 teachers, visit

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