Monthly Archives: February 2013

NASA'S Orion Lands Safely on Two of Three Parachutes in Test

Posted on by .

NASA engineers have demonstrated the agency’s Orion spacecraft can land safely if one of its three main parachutes fails to inflate during deployment.

The test was conducted Feb. 12 in Yuma, Ariz., when the test capsule was dropped from an airplane 7.62 kilometers, or 25,000 feet, above the Arizona desert. Engineers rigged the parachutes so only two would inflate, leaving the third to flag behind.

For more information about the parachute test, visit https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/mpcv/chutetest_041812.html


As NASA prepares Orion to take astronauts farther into space, take a look back at the recently ended shuttle program, and have your students track the linear regression of a space shuttle launch! Check out the launch video of shuttle mission STS-121, and then have them create a scatter plot from real launch data. “Linear Regression: Exploring Space Through Math — Space Shuttle Ascent” is a featured lesson on the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus.

Curiosity Observes Unusual Rock on Mars

Posted on by .

On Mars, as on Earth, sometimes things take on an unusual appearance. One example is a shiny-looking rock seen in a recent image from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover.

Some casual observers might see a resemblance to a car door handle, hood ornament or some other metallic object. To Ronald Sletten of the University of Washington, Seattle, a collaborator on Curiosity’s science team, the object is an interesting study in how wind and the natural elements cause erosion and other effects on various types of rocks.

To see an image of this rock, visit https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/news/msl20130211.html.

Find out what likely caused the shiny appearance of the Martian rock, and see some examples of similar phenomena found on Earth. A PDF of the images and explanatory text are available at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/msl/20130211/ventifacts.pdf.

This story marks yet another discovery by Curiosity. To learn more about the challenges the Mars Science Laboratory team faced during Curiosity’s landing, also known as the “seven minutes of terror,” check out NASA Now: Forces and Motion: Curiosity — Entry, Descent and Landing. You can access the video on the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus.

Professional Development Web Seminar for Teachers: Pythagorean Theorem: Exploring Space Through Math–Lunar Rover

Posted on by .

Professional Development Web Seminar

NASA Explorer Schools and the National Science Teachers Association are hosting a 90-minute live professional development Web seminar for educators on Feb. 27, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. EST. Learn to use the distance formula and the Pythagorean theorem to determine the minimal path and minimal time for a lunar rover to perform tasks on the surface of the moon. Participants should have a basic knowledge of scale factor and application of the Pythagorean theorem. Having access to a calculator is helpful but not necessary for session.

Seminar participants will be given an overview of the lesson and a look at where it fits in the mathematics curriculum, including an alignment to the Common Core Standards for mathematics.

This is the last time this Web seminar will be offered during the current school year.

For more information and to register online, visit the NSTA Learning Center.

Historical photos show change

Posted on by .

There’s nothing quite like historical photos of glaciers to show what a dynamic planet we live on. Alaska’s Muir Glacier, like many Alaskan glaciers, has retreated and thinned dramatically since the 19th century.

This particular pair of images shows the glacier’s continued retreat and thinning in the second half of the 20th century. From 1941 to 2004, the front of the glacier moved back about seven miles while its thickness decreased by more than 2,625 feet, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.


side-by-side comparison of Muir Glacier in 1941, on left, and in 2004, on right.

Photo credits: Photographed by William O. Field on Aug. 13, 1941 (left) and by Bruce F. Molnia on

Aug. 31, 2004 (right). From the Glacier Photograph Collection. Boulder, Colorado USA: National
Snow and Ice Data Center/World Data Center for Glaciology.
Use the study, at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2012-036, when teaching the NES lessons, Earth Climate Course or Satellite Meteorology, both found on the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus.

For more historical images of glaciers, visit http://nsidc.org/data/glacier_photo/ or http://climate.nasa.gov/interactives/global_ice_viewer.


Professional Development Web Seminar: High Power Microscopes — The Virtual Lab

Posted on by .

Professional Development Web Seminar

As part of a series of electronic professional development experiences, the NASA Explorer Schools project and the National Science Teachers Association are hosting a 90-minute Web seminar for educators on Feb. 26, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. EST. Learn to use a computer program simulating three high-power virtual microscopes: an atomic force microscope, a scanning electron microscope and a fluorescence light microscope. Viewing specimens include one-celled organisms, human tissue, computer chips, insects and fungi. You will get an overview of the software, watch videos of students exploring specimens and learn to use the Virtual Lab website and software.

This is the last time this Web seminar will be offered during the current school year.

For more information and to register online, visit the NSTA Learning Center.

UPDATE: Two NASA Explorer Schools to Participate in NASA’s First Google plus Hangout With the International Space Station

Posted on by .

NASA will host its first live Google+ Hangout with the International Space Station from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 EST, Friday, Feb. 22. NASA Explorer Schools students in Mr. Nate Raynor’s class at Mescalero Apache High School in Mescalero, N.M, and students in Ms Danielle Miller’s class at University High School in Orlando, Fla., will connect with astronauts living and working aboard the laboratory orbiting 240 miles above Earth and with astronauts on the ground.

Astronauts Kevin Ford and Tom Marshburn of NASA and Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency will answer questions and provide insight about life aboard the station. Crews conduct a variety of science experiments and perform station maintenance during their six-month stay on the outpost. Their life aboard the station in near-weightlessness requires different approaches to everyday activities such as eating, sleeping and exercising.

Participate by using #askAstro to ask real-time questions on Google+, YouTube or Twitter. On the morning of the event, NASA will open a thread on its Facebook page where questions may be posted.

View the hangout live on NASA’s Google+ page or on the NASA Television YouTube channel. To join the hangout, and for opportunities to participate in upcoming hangouts, visit the NASA’s Google+ page.

Link to the NASA Explorer Schools home page.

Linear Equations: NASA CONNECT — Breaking Barriers Professional Development Web Seminar

Posted on by .

Professional Development Web Seminar

NASA Explorer Schools and the National Science Teachers Association are hosting a 90-minute live professional development Web seminar for educators on Feb. 20, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. EST. During this professional development session, participants will receive information about the applications of linear equations at NASA and learn how to implement the Breaking Barriers activity. Breaking Barriers provides students an opportunity to step into the shoes of a NASA engineer to design, build and test an X-1 balloon.

This seminar will not be offered again during this school year.

For more information and to register online, visit the NSTA Learning Center.

Electromagnetic Spectrum: Remote Sensing Ices on Mars Professional Development Web Seminar

Posted on by .

Professional Development Web Seminar

As part of a series of electronic professional development experiences, the NASA Explorer Schools project and the National Science Teachers Association are hosting a 90-minute Web seminar on Feb. 21, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. EST. Learn how to use authentic NASA mission data to investigate the composition and distribution of ices in the high-latitude regions of Mars through analysis of visible light, infrared light and gamma rays. The seminar includes information about a unique student extension activity, where students access a free computer simulation illustrating how gamma rays are used to determine the chemical composition of Mars.

This is the last time this Web seminar will be offered during the current school year.

For more information and to register online, visit the NSTA Learning Center.

NASA to Broadcast During Asteroid Flyby

Posted on by .

On Friday, Feb. 15, NASA Television will provide commentary from 2 – 2:30 p.m. EST during the close, but safe, flyby of the small near-Earth asteroid named 2012 DA14. The half-hour broadcast from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., will incorporate real-time animation to show the location of the asteroid in relation to Earth, along with live or near real-time views of the asteroid from observatories in Australia, weather permitting. The commentary will be available via NASA TV and streamed live online at https://www.nasa.gov/ntv and http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2.

In addition to the commentary, near real-time imagery of the asteroid’s flyby, made available to NASA by astronomers in Australia and Europe, weather permitting, will be streamed beginning at about noon EST and continuing through the afternoon at http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2.

Also, a Ustream feed of the flyby from a telescope at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will be streamed for three hours starting at 9 p.m. EST. To view the feed and ask researchers questions about the flyby via Twitter, visit http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-msfc.

For more information, including graphics and animations showing the flyby of 2012 DA14, visit www.nasa.gov/asteroidflyby.

Page 1 of 212