Partial Eclipse of the Strawberry Moon

On June 4, 2012, there’s going to be a full moon. According to Native American folklore it’s the Strawberry Moon, so-called because the short season for harvesting strawberries comes during the month of June.

This Strawberry’s going to have a bite taken out of it.

At 3:00 a.m. PDT, not long before sunrise on Monday, June 4, the moon passes directly behind our planet. A broad stretch of lunar terrain around the southern crater Tycho will fall under the shadow of Earth, producing the first lunar eclipse of 2012. At maximum eclipse, around 4:04 a.m. PDT, 37% of the moon’s surface will be in the dark.

Credit: Science@NASA

NASA Now: Model Aircraft

NASA NowIn this episode of NASA Now, Sam James explains why NASA engineers build model aircraft. James talks about how models are tested in wind tunnels and why it’s important to create models that are proportional to full-scale aircraft. He discusses why models are an inexpensive alternative to full-scale aircraft during the redesigning stage of the engineering design process.

This program is available on the Virtual Campus beginning May 30.

Preview of NASA Now: Model Aircraft

My American Landscape Contest: A Space Chronicle of Change

To celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the United States’ Landsat Earth-observing program — which first rocketed into space on July 23, 1972 — NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey are giving something special to a few members of the American public. We will create customized Landsat chronicles of changing local landscapes for six U.S. citizens who enter the “American Landscape” contest.

To enter, all you have to do is send an e-mail and tell us about the local landscape changes you are interested in where you live and what you hope to learn about them from Landsat’s four-decades of observations from space.

Deadline for submissions is Wednesday, June 6. Contest winners will be announced live on NASA Television at a Landsat 40th anniversary press briefing in Washington on Monday, July 23. 

For more information visit

June 5 Transit of Venus

On June 5, 2012, Venus will transit the face of the sun in an event of both historical and observational importance. The best places to watch are in the south Pacific, but travel is not required. The event will also be visible around sunset from the USA. The next transit of Venus won’t happen again until December 2117, 105 years from now. (Note: The pattern is + 8 + 105.5 + 8 + 121.5 +…)

Credit: Science@NASA
ScienceCasts: The 2012 Transit of Venus

NES Re-enrollment for 2013 School Year

NASA Explorer Schools
NASA Explorer Schools has officially kicked off enrollment for the 2012-2013 school year. Current participants can re-enroll for the upcoming year to ensure continued access to NES’s engaging and exciting classroom materials. 

Re-enrollment is simple and painless.  When you next log onto the Virtual Campus, you will receive a prompt to fill out a brief re-enrollment form where you can update your personal, school and classroom information. Fill out the form, click “submit”, and you’ll have full access to NES’ exciting and engaging educational resources and opportunities for the upcoming school year. The information you provide on the form can always be updated at any time through your profile.

Anyone enrolling for the first time in the NES project after May 17 will automatically be enrolled for the 2013 school year.
If you have any questions, contact the NES Help Desk.

NES Events Next Week (May 21 – May 25)

Video chat

Video Chat: Robonaut Technology Aboard the Space Station

May 18, 2012, from 1-2 p.m. EDT

Students in grades 6-12 can ask CJ Kanelakos questions about designing, testing and building a lower body for R2 that will enable it to be more mobile on the International Space Station.

Video Chat: The Amazing World of Nanomaterials

May 23, 2012, from noon-1 p.m. EDT

In recognition of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, NASA Explorer Schools is offering students in grades 9-12 an opportunity to ask questions of Mia Siochi, a research materials engineer working on nanotechnology, self-healing materials and other emerging aerospace materials and systems of the future.

Professional development Web seminar

Professional Development Seminar: Ultraviolet Radiation and Yeast: Radiation Biology Web Seminar

May 23, 2012, at 8:15 p.m. EDT

The student activity featured in this seminar demonstrates the effects of radiation on living organisms. Learn how sun-screening materials protect live yeast cells from harmful ultraviolet, or UV, radiation, countermeasures for UV radiation and discuss phenotypic changes in yeast as a result of radiation damage. Also see how you can expand the range of items tested in this lab by using different sun protection materials. Use this activity to establish a connection for your students between science and a real-world situation.


NASA Now: Cryogenics Testing
May 23, 2012
Wesley Johnson, a cryogenics engineer at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, describes the three methods of heat transfer, shows samples of various insulation materials and demonstrates what happens to a flower exposed to extreme cold. Find out why NASA researchers study fluids and materials at super cold temperatures for applications on Earth and in space.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

Solar Eclipse in the USA

On Sunday, May 20th, the Moon will pass in front of the sun, transforming sunbeams across the Pacific side of Earth into fat crescents and thin rings of light.

In the United States, the eclipse begins around 5:30 pm PDT. For the next two hours, a moon-shaped portion of the sun will go into hiding. Greatest coverage occurs around 6:30 pm PDT.

Solar Eclipse this Weekend

Credit: Science@NASA

NASA Now: Science as Inquiry — Microgravity Drop Tower

NASA NowNancy Hall, a research scientist at NASA Glenn Research Center, discusses the different ways matter acts in the gravity on Earth and the microgravity of space and how she uses a drop tower for testing.

This program is available on the Virtual Campus beginning May 26.

Preview NASA Now: Microgravity Drop Tower

NES Events Next Week (May 14 – May 18)

Professional development opportunity for teachers

Professional DevelopmentChemistry of Water: Mars Exploration — Is There Water on Mars?

May 14, 6:30 p.m. EDT

Learn to use an inquiry-based lesson about how atmospheric pressure and vapor pressure affect the boiling point of water. See why water’s boiling point is pressure-dependent, rather than temperature-dependent. Then, by extension, you will deduce if there could be liquid water on Mars.

Video chat for students

Live Video Chat – Astronaut Greg Johnson — Living and Working in Space

May 15, noon – 1 p.m. EDT

Opportunity for students in grades 4-12 to ask astronaut Greg Johnson questions during a live video chat about his education, astronaut training and experiences while living and working in space.

Professional development opportunity for teachers

Professional Development – Engineering Design Challenge: Thermal Protection System

May 15, 8:15 p.m. EDT

Learn about the science of heat transfer and heat dissipation related to NASA vehicles, and receive an introduction to the associated engineering design challenge, Thermal Protection System.

NASA Now – Microgravity Research
May 16
Nancy Hall, a research scientist at NASA Glenn Research Center, discusses different ways matter acts in the gravity on Earth and in microgravity and how she uses a drop tower for testing.

Professional development opportunity for teachers
May 16, 8 p.m. EDT
Discover how you can use the Space Shuttle Ascent activity to construct a knowledge bridge for your students between the algebra concepts they learn in your classroom and space exploration.

Video chat for students

May 18, 1 – 2 p.m. EDT
C.J. Kanelakos, a mechanical design engineer on the Robonaut 2 project will answer student questions about Robonaut 2, or R2. Join the video chat for an opportunity to ask CJ about her career path, how she became interested in technology and any questions you may have about engineering at NASA!Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

NASA Space Telescope Sees the Light from an Alien Super-Earth

artist's concept of 55 Cancri e, a toasty "super-Earth" that rushes around its star every 18 hours.NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has detected light emanating from a “super-Earth” beyond our solar system for the first time. While the planet is not habitable, the detection is a historic step toward the eventual search for signs of life on other planets.

The planet, called 55 Cancri e, falls into a class of planets termed super Earths, which are more massive than our home world but lighter than giant planets like Neptune. The planet is about twice as big and eight times as massive as Earth. It orbits a bright star, called 55 Cancri, in a mere 18 hours.

For more information about this discovery, visit