NASA Opens Online Voting for 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

For more information about Desert RATS, visit

Computers For Learning Program

Educators, do you need a few computers for your classroom or school computer lab? If so, the U.S. General Services Administration, or GSA, Computers For Learning program may be able to help. The program encourages and promotes the reuse of government computers by transferring “excess” computers and related peripheral equipment to schools and educational nonprofit organizations.

The goal of the CFL program is to make modern computer technology an integral part of every classroom so every child has the opportunity to be educated to his or her full potential.

For more information about the Computers For Learning program visit

Link to the NES Virtual Campus.


ISS Expedition 24 Crew to Talk with NES Middle School Students

About 400 sixth- through eighth-grade students and their teachers at NASA Explorer School Conyers Middle School in Conyers, Ga., will participate in a live downlink with astronauts aboard the International Space Station, which is scheduled to take place on Wednesday at 12:20 p.m. EDT. Selected students will ask questions of astronauts Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Doug Wheelock and Shannon Walker, members of the 24th crew who live and work aboard the station. NASA Television will broadcast video from the space station during the event.

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

Link to the NES Virtual Campus Home page.

Last Shuttle External Tank Rollout at Michoud Assembly Facility

External tank departs assembly building at MichoudThe last external tank (designated ET-138) scheduled to fly on a shuttle mission was completed on June 25 at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans. ET-138 will travel on a 900-mile sea journey to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it will support shuttle Endeavour’s STS-134 launch.

Taller than a 15-story building and more than 27 feet in diameter, the external tank feeds 145,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and 390,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen to the main engines. The three main components of the external tank include a liquid oxygen tank, liquid hydrogen tank and a collar-like intertank. The intertank connects the two propellant tanks, houses instrumentation and processing equipment, and provides the attachment structure for the solid rocket boosters.

When ET-138 arrives at KSC, it will be mated to shuttle Endeavour and solid rocket boosters for the STS-134 mission, scheduled to launch no earlier than mid-November 2010.

To read more about the mission, visit the NASA website at

You and your students can read about NASA missions and what they do at

FlyBy Math Releases New Online Tool

NASA has released an interactive online tool enabling students to simultaneously visualize and manipulate three linked representations of a distance-rate-time problem. The side-by-side tool format features two airplanes (each flying at a constant speed) on merging jet routes, the corresponding distance-vs.-time graphs, and the corresponding linear equations.

Students can manipulate an airplane’s speed and starting position on its route, rotate or shift the associated line on the graph, and change the parameters of the associated equation. As students change one representation, the other representations update accordingly.

The free classroom materials include the tool, student workbooks, assessments, teacher guides, and alignments to grades 5-9 mathematics standards for all 50 states.

The new tool is an addition to FlyBy Math from NASA Smart Skies — distance-rate-time investigations engaging students in the challenges faced by air traffic controllers.

To access the new tool, visit

To access all of the Smart Skies mathematics investigations, visit

Questions about the Smart Skies website and tools should be directed to