NASA Now: Life Science — Human Life Support on the ISS

NASA Now logoFind out from Environmental and Thermal Operating System, or ETHOS, operator Tess Caswell about the role of chemistry in making sure the astronauts aboard the space station have oxygen to breathe, water to drink, and a comfortable temperature in which to live and work. This NASA Now program is available on the NES Virtual Campus beginning Jan 25, 2012.

Program Preview

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

Professional Development Seminar for Educators

Weather and Climate: Satellite Meteorology

Audience: 7-12 and Informal Educators
Event Date: Jan. 23, 2012

False color image of EarthAs 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 professional development web seminar for educators on Jan. 23, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. EDT. Learn to use data from NASA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites, or GOES, and Polar Operational Environmental Satellites, or POES, in your meteorology lessons. This web seminar features “Monitoring the Global Environment,” one of eight modules within the Satellite Meteorology course. You will locate and download satellite data, then use these data to create graphs. 

For more information and to register for tonight’s session, visit URL

NASA's Orion Spacecraft to Visit Oklahoma, Texas and Alabama

Pad abort vehicle stackingA test version of NASA’s Orion spacecraft soon will make a cross-country journey, giving residents in three states the chance to see a full-scale test version of the vehicle that will take humans into deep space.

The crew module will make stops during a trip from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The planned stops include Jan. 24-25 at Science Museum Oklahoma in Oklahoma City; Jan. 27-29 at Victory Park and the American Airlines Center in Dallas; and, Feb. 1-2 at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. Engineers, program officials, astronauts and NASA spokespeople will be available to speak with the media and the public.

The full-scale test vehicle was used by ground crews in advance of the launch abort system flight test that took place in New Mexico in 2010. Orion will serve as the vehicle that takes astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit, and the first orbital flight test is scheduled for 2014.

For more information on the each of the sites, visit
   •  Science Museum Oklahoma →
   •  American Airlines Center →

    What Happened to all the Snow?

    Winter seems to have been on hold this year in some parts of the United States. Snowfall has been scarce in places that were overwhelmed with the white stuff at the same time last year. In this ScienceCast, JPL climatologist Bill Patzert explains what’s going on.

    Related NES Lessons:
       •  Weather and Climate: Satellite Meteorology
       •  Temperature and Earth Climate: Modeling Hot and Cold Planets

    Rovers, Rovers, Everywhere

    Artist concept of Curiosity rover on surface of MarsMelody Shaw gave 700 fourth- and fifth-grade students an opportunity to put themselves in the shoes of NASA engineers. Shaw is a science lab teacher at Grenada Upper Elementary School in Grenada, Miss.

    After learning about rovers and NASA’s newest robotic rover, Curiosity, Shaw’s students had a chance to build their own. Using resources from NASA’s On the Moon Educator Guide, students completed the challenge “Roving on the Moon,” where they designed, built and tested their very own lunar rovers. Shaw noted that this activity covered several areas of the state-required science and mathematics curriculum and that the testing and redesign steps required her students to think like engineers.

    One exciting part of the experience was the community support and family involvement during the lesson. A Grenada business donated two large rolls of corrugated cardboard and straws, which made it possible for all 700 students to design and make their own rovers. After hearing about the activity, some parents requested to help out by cutting the cardboard into squares for each student. Many students said building the project was their favorite activity of the year, and it turned out to be a successful, exciting event for everyone involved.

    NES National Student Symposium

    The NES Virtual Student Symposium provides the opportunity for up to two teams of two students to share the results of an investigation or NASA design challenge with NASA scientists, engineers, technicians and educators. Participation in the Virtual Student Symposium is a prerequisite for getting invited to the all-expenses-paid NES National Student Symposium to be held at a NASA field center on May 2-5, 2012. The investigation or design challenge may be conducted as a classroom activity or done by students on their own, based on their own interests. The investigation or design challenge must relate to a NASA Explorer Schools teaching module or NASA Now episode on the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus.

    For more information about this exciting student opportunity, log into the NES Virtual Campus and visit the Student Recognition page.

    NASA Now: Forces and Motion —

    NASA Now logoDr. Richard Boitnott, lead test engineer at the Landing and Impact Research Facility at NASA’s Langley Research Center, has the kind of job almost any student would love — he gets to crash things and see what happens. In this program, Boitnott show you some of the crucial tests he conducts and explains how he uses technology to collect data.

    NASA Now Preview

    NASA Detects 'Heartbeat' of Smallest Black Hole Candidate

    Artist's rendering showing the disk wind fully established.An international team of astronomers has identified a candidate for the smallest-known black hole by using data from NASA’s Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer. The evidence comes from a specific type of X-ray pattern, nicknamed a “heartbeat” because of its resemblance to an electrocardiogram. The pattern until now has been recorded in only one other black hole system.

    This story directly relates to NASA Now: Black Holes in which Dr. Dan Patnaude discusses how NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory discovered the youngest nearby black hole. Preview this program at the NES YouTube Channel or watch it on the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus.

    For more video and information about this black hole discovery, visit

    Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

    NASA's Kepler Mission Discovery Relates to NES Lesson

    Artist concept of Kepler 22BNASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed its first planet in the “habitable zone,” the region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface. Kepler has discovered more than 1,000 new planet candidates, nearly doubling its previously known count. Ten of these candidates are near-Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of their host star. Candidates require follow-up observations to verify they are planets.

    These amazing discoveries are directly related to the NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson, Algebraic Equations: Transit Tracks — Finding Habitable Planets. During this activity, students analyze real NASA light curve data from the Kepler mission, then use algebra to calculate the size of the planets and distance from their star. Through this process, students discover if the planets lie in the “habitable zone.” To access this lesson, browse the Lesson Library at

    To read more about these exciting Kepler discoveries, visit the mission website.