NASA Lands Rover Beside Martian Mountain

Hi-Res image of Mars sent by CuriosityNASA’s most advanced Mars rover Curiosity landed on the Red Planet at 10:32 p.m. Aug. 5, PDT, (1:32 a.m. EDT Aug. 6) near the foot of a mountain three miles tall and 96 miles in diameter inside Gale Crater. The one-ton rover, hanging by ropes from a rocket backpack, touched down onto Mars Sunday to end a 36-week flight and begin a two-year investigation.

For more information about this spectacular feat, visit

Mars Month Comes to NES

Now that NASA’s rover, Curiosity, has successfully landed on Mars, NES is excited to designate September 2012 as Mars Month. Each week during September, NASA Now classroom videos will highlight an aspect of Curiosity’s mission on Mars.

NASA Now is a weekly 5-7-minute classroom video designed to give your students firsthand information about NASA’s missions, research and facilities and to introduce them to some of NASA’s most fascinating people and careers. You can find a new NASA Now video on the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus each Wednesday during the school year.

For each NASA Now video, you get a description of the video, an Extension Activity, and questions you may ask your students before and after watching the video. There is also a set of vocabulary words, related resources, career information, and a connection to NASA missions or projects. All of these components are provided so you can easily use the NASA Now programs to bring relevant current NASA events to your classroom.

Closed-captioned videos can be streamed from the Web, or a non-captioned mp4 version can be downloaded to your computer.

You may preview NASA Now videos at the NES YouTube channel.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

Celebrate the Landing of the Mars Curiosity Rover

Artist's Concept: A Moment After Curiosity's TouchdownIn a few days, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity, is set to land on Mars. What will this rover do? Curiosity will look for things that sustain life: signs of long-term water in the past or present and the right chemical ingredients for life (e.g., carbon-based molecules, the chemical building blocks of life). Use this historic occasion to introduce current real-world science and engineering to your students.

Curiosity is scheduled to land on Mars at 1:31 a.m. EDT on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012. (That’s 10:31 p.m. PDT, Sunday, Aug. 5.) That evening, Mars will be visible in the night sky with a telescope or with the naked eye. Take this opportunity to host a Mars-gazing party! Just after sunset, Mars will be roughly 150 million miles away from Earth, and the Curiosity Rover will be only hours away from arriving to this distant orange dot in the night sky. Submit your events to

— Looking for activities to get students excited about the upcoming landing? A number of short, hands-on activities relating to the mission are available at

For a basic overview of the Red Planet, visit the following websites:

Basic Information on Mars
Mars Image Collection
3-D Images of Mars

Want to know more about the area where the Curiosity rover will be landing on Mars? Visit the following websites to learn more about Gale Crater:

Destination Gale Crater: August 5, 2012 at 10:31 pm PDT
Gale’s Mount Sharp Compared to Three Big Mountains on Earth
National Parks as Mars Analog Sites

The Curiosity rover will landing using a bold new landing technique. Check out the “Seven Minutes of Terror” video to see how rockets, parachutes and a “sky crane” will help Curiosity make a soft landing on Mars.

Live media coverage of the Curiosity landing begins at midnight EDT (9 p.m. PDT) on NASA TV. To find NASA TV on your local cable provider, or to view the coverage online, visit

Curiosity also has a presence on Twitter and Facebook.


For up-to-the-minute mission information about the Curiosity rover and progress toward its Mars landing, visit and

NuSTAR Opens X-Ray Eyes

Artist's concept of NuSTAR in orbitNASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has snapped its first test images of the sizzling high-energy X-ray universe. The observatory, launched June 13, is the first space telescope with the ability to focus high-energy X-rays — the same kind used by doctors and dentists — into crisp images.

Soon, the mission will begin its exploration of hidden black holes; fiery cinder balls left over from star explosions; and other sites of extreme physics in our cosmos.

“Today, we obtained the first-ever focused images of the high-energy X-ray universe,” said Fiona Harrison, the mission’s principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, who first conceived of NuSTAR about 15 years ago. “It’s like putting on a new pair of glasses and seeing aspects of the world around us clearly for the first time.”

The story about NuSTAR in orbit is a great extension for NASA Now: Electromagnetic Spectrum: NuSTAR. To access this episode of NASA Now, first log into the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus.

To read more about NuSTAR’s X-ray eyes, visit the NuSTAR mission website.


Recently, an air pressurized paper rocket launcher being used by an educator failed. This launcher is described in NASA’s Rockets Educator Guide, publications EG-2011-11-223-KSC, pp. 86-90 and EG-2008-05-060-KSC, pp. 86-90. NASA completed an engineering investigation into the failure and determined that the launcher, or design equivalents, should not be used. NASA has removed the launcher design from its website and its education curriculum. Individuals and organizations should immediately discontinue use of the launcher published in the referenced NASA publications. The point of contact for additional information is James Stofan, Deputy Associate Administrator for Education Integration at We request that your organization assist NASA in disseminating this information as widely as possible throughout the education community.

Mars Landing Sky Show

Every time NASA lands a rover on Mars–or even makes the attempt–it is cause for celebration. On August 5th, the heavens themselves are aligning to mark the event.

Only a few hours before the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft Curiosity reaches the red planet and drops Curiosity on a hair-raising descent mission planners have dubbed the “seven minutes of terror,” Mars itself will be put on a special show in the sunset skies of Earth: Together with Saturn and Spica, a blue giant star in the constellation Virgo, the red planet will form a “Martian triangle” visible from almost all parts of our planet.

Researchers Estimate Ice Content of Crater at Moon's South Pole

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, has returned data indicating ice may make up as much as 22 percent of the surface material in a crater located on the moon’s south pole.

The team of NASA and university scientists using laser light from LRO’s laser altimeter examined the floor of Shackleton crater. They found the crater’s floor is brighter than those of other nearby craters, which is consistent with the presence of ice. This information will help researchers understand crater formation and study other uncharted areas of the moon. The findings are published in the journal Nature.

To read more about ice on the moon, visit:

This story features the lunar exploration mission LRO and is directly related to NASA Now: Lunar Mathematics and Mapping, as well as the NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson “Engineering Design Process: On the Moon.” To view this edition of NASA Now or to use this lesson in your classroom, visit:

Satellites See Unprecedented Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Melt

For several days this month, Greenland’s surface ice cover melted over a larger area than at any time in more than 30 years of satellite observations. Nearly the entire ice cover of Greenland, from its thin, low-lying coastal edges to its two-mile-thick center, experienced some degree of melting at its surface, according to measurements from three independent satellites analyzed by NASA and university scientists.

Credit: Science@NASA