Monthly Archives: March 2011

Voting Open for Original Songs to Awaken STS-134 Crew

NASA is inviting the public to vote for its favorite original song to wake up space shuttle Commander Mark Kelly and his five crewmates during their STS-134 mission to the International Space Station. Voting runs through launch day, which currently is targeted for April 19, 2011.

Electronic voting is open to the public on NASA’s Space Rock website, which includes the songs, inspiration and biographical information about the 10 finalists.

Songwriters and performers from around the world submitted 1,350 songs, including 693 from 47 states, 105 from Canada, and 552 from 61 other countries. The song contest began Aug. 20, 2010 and ended Jan. 31. The finalists were notified on Feb. 18.

Below are the original song finalists (alphabetical by song title):
“Boogie Woogie Shuttle,” by Ryan McCullough (Savannah, Ga.)
“Dreams You Give,” by Brian Plunkett (Halfway, Mo.)
“Endeavour, It’s a Brand New Day,” by Susan Rose Simonetti (Cocoa Beach, Fla.)
“I Need My Space,” by Stan Clardy (Statesville, N.C.)
“I Want to Be an Astronaut,” by Michael J. Kunes (Phoenix)
“Just Another Day in Space,” by Kurt Lanham (Jacksonville, Fla.)
“Rocket Scientist,” by Tray Eppes (Cullen, Va.)
“Spacing Out,” by Jeremy Parsons (Nashville, Tenn.)
“Sunrise Number 1,” by Jorge Otero (Ovideo, Spain)
“The Countdown Blues (Hymn for Tim),” by Sharon Riddell (Nashville, Tenn.)

The two songs with the most votes will be the first original songs chosen by the public to be played as wakeup music for a shuttle crew. The STS-134 Original Song Contest ran concurrently with the Top 40 Song Contest for shuttle Discovery’s STS-133 mission. The Top 40 Song Contest ended earlier this month.

The song contests join the ongoing “Face in Space” project offering the opportunity to send a picture to space via an electronic transfer. During Discovery’s mission, more than 194,000 images flew in space. So far, almost 117,000 images have been submitted to fly aboard shuttle Endeavour’s STS-134 flight. To send your face to space aboard Endeavour, or Atlantis on the STS-135 mission targeted for June, visit

The 14-day mission will be the 36th flight to the space station and the 25th, and final, flight for Endeavour. Pilot Greg H. Johnson and mission specialists Mike Fincke, Drew Feustel, Greg Chamitoff and Roberto Vittori of the European Space Agency will join Kelly. They will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a particle physics detector designed to search for various types of unusual matter by measuring cosmic rays. The crew also will deliver the Express Logistics Carrier-3, a platform that carries spare parts to sustain station operations once the shuttles are retired later this year.

For more information on the Space Shuttle Program and Endeavour’s final mission, visit

For more information about the International Space Station, visit

NASA Great Moonbuggy Race – Watch Live Online April 1-2, 2011

Watch the 18th annual NASA Great Moonbuggy Race live on UStream — a one-stop shop for video and Twitter updates! The race will be held April 1-2, 2011, at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. On April 1, the race and the 40th anniversary celebration of the first use of the Lunar Roving Vehicle on the moon will be streamed on the web starting at 7 a.m. CDT at

The event honors the men and women who designed, tested, built and piloted the original lunar rovers — many of whom are expected to take part in the celebration. On April 2, the awards ceremony also will be available on the NASA UStream channel at 5 p.m. CDT.

The winners of the NASA Great Moonbuggy Race will be posted April 2 to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center Newsroom website:

Moonbuggy enthusiasts also can follow the NASA Great Moonbuggy Race on Facebook ( and Twitter ( April 1-2. NASA will “Tweet” updates throughout the race, including total race times for each team and the race winners.

More than 80 high school, college and university student teams from 22 states and Puerto Rico, and international challengers from six countries, including returning teams from Canada, India and Germany and — for the first time — racers from Ethiopia, Pakistan and Russia will battle through a challenging course of moon-like terrain at the Space & Rocket Center.

The NASA Great Moonbuggy Race began in 1994, inspired by the original lunar rovers developed for the Apollo moon missions in the 1970s by NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Boeing and General Motors engineers. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the first lunar rover rolling across the moon’s surface. The race is one of dozens of educational projects and initiatives led by the Marshall Center each year to attract and engage America’s next generation of scientists, engineers and explorers — those who will carry on the nation’s mission of exploration to uncharted destinations in the solar system.

For more event details, race rules, information on the course and photos from previous competitions, visit

New Opportunity for Schools and Education Groups to Talk With Astronauts on the ISS

NASA is offering opportunities for schools and educational groups to speak with astronauts aboard the International Space Station to learn about the challenges and rewards of their work. Members of Expedition 29 and 30, the 29th and 30th crews to live on the station, will be available for question-and-answer sessions from September through March 2012.

NASA astronauts Mike Fossum of McAllen, Texas, Dan Burbank of Yarmouthport, Mass., and Don Pettit of Silverton, Ore, will participate in the 20-minute question-and-answer sessions, known as in-flight downlinks.

“These discussions are unique opportunities for students to learn first-hand from astronauts aboard the station what it is like to live and work in space,” said Cindy McArthur, Teaching From Space (TFS) project manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “It is inspiring to see science come alive for the students.”

The downlinks are modified videoconferences where participants see and hear crew live from space, but the crew only has audio connectivity.
U.S. educational organizations such as museums, science centers, local school districts, national and regional education organizations and local, state and federal government agencies are eligible to participate. NASA provides this opportunity through TFS at no cost to the host organization and will work with the host institution to plan the downlink.

Interested parties should contact TFS at for information about technical requirements, expectations, content, format, and audience, and proposal guidelines and forms. Proposals must be submitted electronically and are due April 29.

The downlinks are broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed on the agency’s website. Due to the nature of human spaceflight, organizations must demonstrate the flexibility to accommodate changes in downlink dates and times. Participating organizations also must have two dedicated phone lines and the capability to receive NASA TV via NASA’s Live Interactive Media Outlet Channel to view and communicate with the crew. The channel is a digital satellite C-band downlink by uplink provider Americom. It is on satellite AMC 6, transponder 5C, located at 72 degrees west, downlink frequency 3785.5 Mhz based on a standard C-band 5150 Mhz L.O., vertical polarity, FEO is 3/4, data rate is 6.00 Mhz, symbol rate is 4.3404 Mbaud, transmission DVB, minimum Eb/N0 is 6.0 dB.

For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and schedule information, visit:

For more information about Teaching From Space, visit:

For more information about the International Space Station and the Expedition 29 and 30 crews, visit:

Free NASA Webinars

NASA Learning Environments and Research Network, or LEARN, and NASA Explorer Schools have teamed up to offer exciting webinars featuring NASA educational resources for educators. Below are four offerings in April 2011 and the first May 2011 event. The webinars are presented from 9-10 p.m. EST to ensure educators on both the East Coast and West Coast can participate. And, don’t worry about the technology. We have tech support ready to walk you through viewing and participating in the webinars.

You can register for each of the webinars by clicking on these website links:

Black Hole Math – April 6, 2011, 9 p.m. EST
This session provides teachers with information about one of the most exciting yet misunderstood space phenomenon — black holes. Learn about black hole structure and behavior, and get information on some common misconceptions about black holes.

Engineering Design Challenge: Lunar Plant Growth Chamber – April 13, 2011, 9 p.m. EST
Plant growth will be an important part of space exploration in the future. This webinar will highlight the science of the lunar environment, basic plant needs, the current focus of NASA’s plant research and the systems that are being developed for future missions.

Engineering Design Challenge: Water Filtration – April 20, 2011, 9 p.m. EST
This webinar will highlight the water recovery and management function of the Environmental Control and Life Support System, or ECLSS, on the International Space Station. Students will design, build, test and measure the performance of a water filtration device, analyze the data collected and use this information to work toward an improved filtration design.

Exploring Space Through Math – April 27, 2011, 9 p.m. EST
During this unique webinar, you’ll learn how to get your students to investigate the characteristics of quadratic functions to solve real-world problems involving the parabolic flights of NASA’s “Weightless Wonder” microgravity jet.

GENESIS: What Are We Made of? The Sun, Earth and You – May 4, 2011, 9 p.m. EST
By counting elements extracted from a simulated Genesis sample, students learn how the extraction of atoms from the Genesis samples help scientists have a better understanding of the abundance of elements from the solar wind.

Join the Worldwide GLOBE at Night Campaign

GLOBE at Night encourages citizen-scientists worldwide to record the brightness of the night sky. During 2 weeks of moonless evenings, children and adults match the appearance of a constellation (Leo in the northern hemisphere and Crux or Leo in the southern hemisphere) with 7 star charts of progressively fainter stars found at Participants then submit their choice of star chart online with their date, time and location to help create a light pollution map worldwide.

The GLOBE at Night 2011 campaign dates are March 22-April 4, 2011, (for the Northern Hemisphere) and March 24-April 6, 2011, (for the Southern Hemisphere). Over 60,000 measurements have been contributed from more than 100 countries over the last 5 years of two-week campaigns.

This year children and adults can submit their measurements in real-time if they have a smart phone or tablet. To do this, use the web application at With smart phones and tablets, the location, date and time are put in automatically. And if you do not have a smart phone or tablet, there are user-friendly tools on the GLOBE at Night report page to find latitude and longitude.

Through GLOBE at Night, students, teachers, parents and community members are amassing a data set from which they can explore the nature of light pollution locally and across the globe. Make a difference and join the GLOBE at Night efforts in 2011. Activity packets, one-page flyers and postcards advertising the campaign are available at

PBS Design Squad Nation: ‘One Giant Leap’

A new full-length episode of PBS Design Squad Nation is now available online. In this episode, engineers Judy and Adam invite Felipe — an accomplished 15-year-old pilot from Miami, Fla. — to compete in the 2010 Red Bull Flugtag competition. Together, they team up with NASA to design and build a human-powered flying machine. With their NASA-inspired glider design, Team One Giant Leap soars off a 30-foot high deck, impressing the judges with distance and style.

Click the links below to view the episode online.
Part One:
Part Two:

For more information and to find more Design Squad Nation videos and resources, visit

Webcast – Engaging and Supporting Latinas in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics – April 7, 2011

National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) Webcast – Engaging and Supporting Latinas in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
Thursday, April 7, 2011
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Pacific

Join practitioners from informal and formal education to discuss strategies and programming ideas for engaging and supporting Latinas in STEM. Presenters include Melissa Cigarroa and Lisa Chappa of the Imaginarium of South Texas and Melissa Hosten and Andria Disney of TI Inspire, a program in the Chandler Arizona Unified School District.


Spiders in Space Experiment and Teacher’s Guide

In April 2011, an orb weaver spider will join the STS-134 crew aboard space shuttle Endeavour for a trip to the International Space Station. Once on board the space station, the spider will star in an exciting experiment to observe its behaviors in microgravity. The spider will live in a safe environment that provides food and water. The special habitat allows the spider to be monitored continuously. Real-time photos and video of the spider will be transmitted from the space station back to Earth and made available on the “Spiders in Space” Mission page.

Baylor College of Medicine in Houston has created a complete curricular module. It will allow students and teachers worldwide to conduct their own classroom investigations comparing ground-based spiders with those living in microgravity on the space station. The teacher’s guide for the Spiders in Space module is free. Visit the link below to register and download the module guide. It provides information on the orb weaver spider, housing and care for a spider, and setting up a classroom-based investigation with your students.

To learn more and download the guide, visit

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