Ten Years of NASA Explorer Schools

In 2003, NASA rolled out an innovative project called NASA Explorer Schools. A unique new project, NASA Explorer Schools teamed schools, teachers and students with NASA resources and personnel in a refreshing new way, giving teachers and students access to the goings on of NASA as never before. Over the years, the NES project grew as more schools, teachers and communities became committed to the goals put forth by NES. And now, 10 years after its beginning, NES can boast that it has impacted hundreds of schools and teachers, along with hundreds of thousands of students.

Read more about NES 10 year history at https://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/ten-years-nasa-explorer-schools.html

LADEE in Orbit Around Earth

After a spectacular launch, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer or LADEE, spacecraft was placed into an elliptic orbit around Earth, as the start of our journey back to the moon.  Mission controllers at NASA’s Ames Research Center successfully completed the initial systems checkout phase, and everything looks good so far.

LADEE is doing fine and its trajectory to the moon is good. The spacecraft is currently in an elliptical orbit around Earth, about 162,000 miles (260,000 Km) in altitude. Mission controllers are now performing an extended checkout phase.

To see an image and read more about LADEE, visit https://www.nasa.gov/content/ladee-project-manager-update-initial-checkout-complete/index.html#.UjHvt4WC4vQ

The LADEE mission is the latest development in lunar exploration. To give your students an opportunity to plan a lunar mission, check out the NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson, Engineering Design Process: On the Moon: On Target. To gain access to this lesson, visit the NES Virtual Campus at http://explorerschools.nasa.gov.

Space Laser To Prove Increased Broadband Possible

When NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration, or LLCD, begins operation aboard the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE, mission, it will attempt to show two-way laser communication beyond Earth is possible, expanding the possibility of transmitting huge amounts of data. This new ability could one day allow for 3-D High Definition video transmissions in deep space to become routine.

To read more about this laser communication in space, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/content/space-laser-to-prove-increased-broadband-possible/index.html#.Uh9zmIWC4vQ

These missions to the moon are NASA’s most recent studies of the moon. Get your students to utilize engineering to help NASA plan a mission to the moon by implementing the NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson, Engineering Design Process: On the Moon. To access this lesson, visit the NES Virtual Campus at: http://explorerschools.nasa.gov.

California Rim Fire From Space

The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, or VIIRS, on the Suomi NPP satellite tracked the growth of the fire approaching Yosemite National Park between August 23–26. The VIIRS day-night band is extremely sensitive to low light, making it possible to see the fire front from space at night. The brightest, most intense parts of the fire glow white, exceeding the brightness of the lights of Reno, Nevada, to the north. Pale gray smoke streams away from the fire, generally to the north.

To see the image progression and read more about this, visit http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=81930

NASA Spacecraft Capture an Earth Directed Coronal Mass Ejection

On August 20, 2013 at 4:24 a.m. EDT, the sun erupted with an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection, or CME, a solar phenomenon which can send billions of tons of particles into space that can reach Earth one to three days later. These particles cannot travel through the atmosphere to harm humans on Earth, but they can affect electronic systems in satellites and on the ground.

Experimental NASA research models, based on observations from NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, show that the CME left the sun at speeds of around 570 miles per second, which is a fairly typical speed for CMEs.

To see images of this CME and read more, visit https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/20130820-nasa-spacecraft-capture-earth-directed-coronal-mass-ejection/index.html#.UhOSCYWC4vQ

This story is a great extension to the NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson, Geometry: Space Math Problems—Solar Storms. To access this lesson, visit the NES Virtual Campus at http://explorerschools.nasa.gov.

Seeing Photosynthesis from Space: NASA Scientists Use Satellites to Measure Plant Health

NASA scientists have established a new way to use satellites to measure what’s occurring inside plants at a cellular level.

For more information about this new use, visit https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/seeing-photosynthesis-from-space-nasa-scientists-use-satellites-to-measure-plant-health/index.html#.UhIcz2RMTrG

“Wheel Tracks Now, Boot Prints Later”

NASA’s Curiosity rover has just marked one year on Mars and has already achieved its main science goal of revealing ancient Mars could have supported life. The mobile laboratory also is guiding designs for future planetary missions.

“Successes of our Curiosity…advance us toward further exploration, including sending humans to an asteroid and Mars,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “Wheel tracks now, will lead to boot prints later.”

To read more about Curiosity, visit https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/curiosity-nearing-first-anniversary-on-Mars/index.html#.UgEJnYXTovQ

This story is an excellent extension to the NASA Explorer Schools Mars Month NASA Now programs from September, 2012. To access and view these programs, visit the NES Virtual Campus.