Monthly Archives: August 2012

The Blue Moon – August 31, 2012

Blue Moon

The Blue Moon – August 31, 2012

(From our friends at OMSI)

A blue moon is usually explained as a full moon, which occurs twice in the same month. In August 2012, it is on the 1st (8:27 p.m. PDT) and 31st (6:58 a.m. PDT). A blue moon occurs every 3 to 4 years, when the date for one full moon falls on or near the beginning of a calendar month so that the following full moon comes before the end of the same month.

There are several different meanings for the term ‘blue moon. ‘ The phrase ‘blue moon’ has been around over 400 years, but during that time its meaning has shifted around a lot. The earliest reference was cited in The Maine Farmers’ Almanac, 1937. The almanac states that when there were two full moons in a calendar month, calendars would put the first in red, the second in blue.”

In astronomy, as stated above, a ’blue moon’ is the second full moon to appear in a single month. However, in meteorology, the correct definition of a blue moon is the physical explanation of why, on rare occasions, the moon appears blue. The scattering of moonlight causes a “blue moon” by smoke particulate. The red end of the spectrum is scattered more than the blue end of the spectrum, which causes light seen from the moon to look more blue: hence, a blue moon.

Despite the differences in meaning, in general terms, the rarity of seeing a moon that looks blue and/or the rarity of two full moons appearing in one month prompted the well-known saying “once in a blue moon,” which means something that happens very rarely.

Happy Blue Moon!

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FAA Design Competition for U.S. College Students – NOI due September 28, 2012 and February 1, 2013

FAA Design Competition

Submit your notice of intent to participate by September 28, 2012 or February 1, 2013.

The Competition guidelines and many resources are posted at the Competition website:

http://FAADesignCompetition.odu.edu

All 2011-2012 design topics are still included. New topics have been added to the each of 2012 Design Challenge areas.

In addition, two new Design Challenge areas have been added: Innovative Application of FAA Data and Electric/Hybrid-Electric Aircraft Technology.

The new Innovative Application of FAA Data design challenge challenges students to use FAA, industry, travel and airport-relevant data to develop a mobile application for use for by smart phones and tablets that is innovative and commercially viable.

The new Electric/Hybrid Electric Aircraft Technology design challenge asks students to design a regional transport aircraft that will use electric or hybrid electric propulsion and to consider the impact on airports. This is the first aircraft design challenge for the FAA design competition.

Other brand new topics by Design Challenge area are:

  • Airport Operation and Maintenance: Improved methods for ground traffic flow scheduling.
  • Airport Environmental Interactions: System level methodologies for strategic assessment of environmental interactions beginning at the airport planning phase.
  • Runway Safety: Safety Assessment Tools: Mobile tools to support assessment conducted by runway safety action teams that aid in compliance evaluation as well as hazard identification and correction.
  • Systems analysis to determine areas of greatest risk for runway incursion and excursion in the National Airspace and proposing corrective action plans.
  • Airport Management and Planning: Methods for aircraft/runway interface that address issues caused by new energy efficient lighting not being visible to heat sensing, enhance flight vision systems.

The Competition’s broad challenge categories embrace many engineering, science, information technology, psychology, and management disciplines. The new Innovative Application of FAA Data challenge particularly encourages designs from interdisciplinary teams.

The Competition is again open to individual and student teams at U.S. colleges and universities (both undergraduate and graduate) working under the mentorship of a faculty advisor. Winners can earn cash awards and first place winners have the opportunity and travel funds to present their design at FAA Headquarters summer 2013 and may also be sponsored to present at professional meeting relating to the students’ design. A notice of intent is strongly encouraged. Design submissions are due April 19, 2013.

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Fourth Annual Lunabotics Mining Competition – Registration Ends at 50 Applications!

Registration Open for NASA’s Fourth Annual Lunabotics Mining Competition

NASA is challenging U.S. and international undergraduate and graduate student teams to design and build a telerobotic or autonomous excavator, called a Lunabot, that could be used on the moon. The Lunabot must be able to mine and deposit a minimum of 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of lunar simulant in 10 minutes. The scoring for the Mining Category requires teams to consider a number of design and operation factors such as dust tolerance and projection, communications, vehicle mass, energy/power required and autonomy.

Design teams must include one faculty advisor from a college or university and at least two undergraduate or graduate students. Universities may work in collaboration and multidisciplinary teams are encouraged. Selected teams will compete in the Lunabotics Mining Competition at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 20-24, 2013. Registration is limited to the first 50 approved teams. Registration is limited to one team per university campus. Internationally, registration is limited to 5 teams per country. Registration will end when NASA approves 50 applications.

The NASA EDGE video from NASA’s Third Annual Lunabotics Mining Competition is available at: http://www.nasa.gov/mp4/670179main_NE00072112_39_Lunabotics_2012.mp4

For more information and to apply online, visit NASA’s Lunabotics Mining Competition on the Web at http://www.nasa.gov/lunabotics.

Bag of Bones Classroom Activity – Grades K-8

Student and Skeleton

Let’s crunch some bones!

Students test bone density using plastic snack bags, corn puff cereal and a heavy book. They apply the scientific method to determine degrees of bone loss and learn why healthy bones are important in space and on Earth.

http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/topnav/materials/listbytype/Bag_of_Bones_Activity.html

Objective:

Following this activity, the student will be able to

  • Identify the effects of decreased bone mass (osteoporosis)
  • Describe why healthy bones are important in space and on Earth

National Science Standards:

  • Unifying Concepts and Processes in Science
  1. Evidence, models, and explanation
  2. Change, constancy, and measurement
  • Science as Inquiry
  1. Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
  2. Understanding about scientific inquiry
  • Life Science
  1. Structure and function in living systems
  2. Diversity and adaptations of organisms
  • Science in Perspective
  1. Personal health
  • History and Nature of Science
  1. Nature of science

National Mathematics Standards:

  • Mathematics as problem solving
  • Mathematics as reasoning
  • Mathematical connections
  • Computation and estimation

Materials Needed:

  • Corn puff cereal (approx. 4.5 oz. per group)
  • Ziplock snack bags (6 5/8 inch x 3 ¼ inch) – 5 per group (larger bags holdtoo much cereal to count in a reasonable amount of time)
  • Permanent markers for labeling bags
  • Heavy books (one per group)
  • Student Activity Guide (one per student)
  • Broom and dustpan (for clean-up)

Time Required:

This activity may be spread out over a two- or three-day period. You maywish to use the first day for discussion and baggie preparation, and the second and third days for experimentation, data collection, and discussion.

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National Student Solar Spectrograph Competition – Team Registration Awards Deadline September 30, 2012

National Student Solar Spectrograph Competition (NSSSC)

An Opportunity for Undergraduates to Participate in a Real World Research Experience

Ask yourself the following questions:

Spectrograph

Register your team today for the National Student Solar Spectrograph Competition! Build awards available for teams registered before September 30, 2012~

  • Are you looking for a real world design problem?
  • Do you want to participate on an interdisciplinary team?
  • Do you want experience with mechanical components, optics, electronics and software?
  • Are you looking for an independent study or a capstone project?
  • Do you want to travel to the ‘Big Sky’ state?
  • Do you want a chance to win scholarship and travel prizes?

If you answered yes to these questions then this competition is for you! Get your team of 3 to 6 students together and register today.

The yearly National Student Solar Spectrograph Competition (NSSSC) is Montana Space Grant Consortium’s Education and Public Outreach (EP/O) Program for NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) mission. A Spectrograph is an instrument used to measure properties of light over a specific portion of the electromagnetic spectrum by separating the incoming light into its characteristic frequencies of wavelengths (spectrum). Spectrographs have a wide range of complexity from simple grating or prisms to the cutting edge IRIS spectrograph.

The NSSSC provides students from across the country the opportunity to work as part of an undergraduate interdisciplinary team to design, build and test a ground based solar spectrograph. Over the course of nine months, teams come up with their own science goals and then build an instrument to collect data in support of their goals. Teams then travel to Bozeman, MT to demonstrate their instruments and present their results in a competitive science fair environment. There are four judged categories: best build, best design, best science and best presentation. Each student on the winning teams receives a scholarship award of $3,000 and a travel award to a NASA launch.

College students interested in designing a spectrograph can now register for the 2012-2013 competition. Build awards of $2,000 per team are available for teams that register by Sept. 30.

Comments about the NSSSC:

“NASA is in a unique position to use scientific space missions like IRIS to foster student interest in science and engineering,” said Diane DeTroye, of NASA’s education office in Washington, D.C. “Giving students a chance to get hands-on experience often encourages them to pursue and continue STEM studies. This helps build an important pipeline of talent for future NASA missions.”

“The concept of having undergraduates design, build and test a scientific instrument is certainly unique as far as I know. This is a marvelous opportunity for young people to develop high level skills in instrument building. Using the instrument to answer science questions makes it even better. I commend and thank you for this wonderful experience. All of us will learn so much as we successfully complete this project. NSSSC provides participating students a better chance for admission to the graduate school of their choice. Also, they will receive better fellowships when they are accepted to graduate school. It will give some of them a direction for their career. I know of no other opportunity to engage in instrument design and application.” – Edmond Wilson, Faculty Advisor Harding University

“The opportunity to work on a real project has been a true motivation for our students who can feel isolated at a small school with no significant research going on.” – Jim Boger, Faculty Advisor Flat Head Valley Community College

The 2012-2013 Final Competition Dates are May 15-18, 2013 in Bozeman, MT. Any questions please contact Randy Larimer at rlarimer@ece.montana.edu or 406-994-6085

Registration and more information is available at http://www.spacegrant.montana.edu/iris/

Social Media Link: http://www.facebook.com/NASANS3

NASA Science Mission Directorate Seeks Educator Professional Development Feedback – Deadline September 10, 2012

The NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is strongly committed to enhancing the nation’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. As part of that commitment, each of the four divisions within the SMD established an Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) Forum. Each Forum consists of a team of scientists and educators that coordinates activities using NASA science content, expertise, and facilities.

One of the areas on which the Forums are currently focusing is teacher professional development. In an effort to continue offering the most valuable professional development experience possible, the Forums are seeking expert input.

Please fill in the survey found at the website listed below. The survey should take less than 20 minutes. We are asking for your response by Sept. 10, 2012.

http://bit.ly/NASAscienceteacher

Thank you very much for your contribution to NASA Science E/PO Forums!

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Student Travel Grants for Astrobiology – Deadlines April 1, October 1 Annually

Astrobiology Program Travel Awards

The Astrobiology Program Travel Awards Program offers research-related travel support for undergraduate, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Applicants are encouraged to use these resources to circulate among two or more laboratories supported by the NASA Astrobiology Program (ASTEP,ASTID, Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology or the NAI), however any travel that is critical for the applicant’s research will be considered.

Travelers must be formally affiliated with a U.S. institution. Requests are limited to $5,000, and are accepted with deadlines of April 1 and October 1.

How to Apply:

To be considered for an Astrobiology Program Travel Award, please submit the following material to Melissa Kirven-Brooks <Melissa.Kirven-Brooks at nasa.gov>

  • the team(s) and researchers you plan to visit
  • the approximate dates of travel
  • a brief description of the research you plan to conduct at the hosting laboratory (include, for example, any technique you expect to learn, or equipment you will need to use) and how the collaboration is relevant to your research
  • a budget describing what funds are required, and
  • letters of recommendation from your faculty advisor and from the researcher(s) you plan to visit

Visit the program website for details: http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/nai/funding/astrobiology-program-travel-awards

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Student CubeSat Space mission Opportunity – Proposal Deadline November 12, 2012

NASA is seeking proposals for small satellite payloads to fly on rockets planned to launch between 2013 and 2016. These miniature spacecraft, known as CubeSats, could be auxiliary payloads on previously planned missions.

CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. These cube-shaped satellites are approximately four inches long, have a volume of about one quart and weigh less than three pounds.

Proposed CubeSat investigations must be consistent with NASA’s Strategic Plan and the NASA education vision and goals. The research must address aspects of science, exploration, technology development, education or operations.

Applicants must submit proposals electronically by 4:30 p.m. EST, Nov. 12, 2012. NASA will select the payloads by Jan. 31, 2013. Selection does not guarantee a launch opportunity. The selected spacecraft will be eligible for flight after final negotiations when a launch opportunity arises. NASA will not provide funding for the development of the small satellites.

NASA recently announced the results from the third round of the CubeSat Launch Initiative. From the first three launch initiatives, 64 payloads made the short list for launch opportunities between 2011 and 2014. They are eligible for launch pending an appropriate opportunity and final negotiations. The satellites come from 25 states: Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia.

For additional information about NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative program, visit http://go.nasa.gov/puk9K2 and http://go.nasa.gov/CubeSatOp.

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