NASA Now: Technology and Design — Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle

NASA Now: Earth and the Solar System — Juno. Tracy Drain, a Juno systems engineer from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, discusses the Juno spacecraft and what scientists hope to learn when it reaches Jupiter.

This program is available on the NES Virtual Campus beginning June 13.

Preview NASA Now: Earth and the Solar System — Juno

NASA Now: Technology and Design — Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle

NASA NowIn this episode of NASA Now, learn about how designing, building, and testing are important steps of the engineering process for the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle.  Christie Sauers, Mockup Lead for the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, discusses full-scale mockups and designing, building and testing as important steps of the engineering design process for the MPCV. She also talks about how NASA uses mockups to understand the design requirements necessary for building spacecraft. This program is available on the NES Virtual Campus beginning June 6.


NASA Now – Engineering Design Process: Hubble Space Telescope

NASA NowNASA engineer Russ Werneth discusses the continuous nature of the engineering design process and shares what it was like to design and plan the spacewalks that were key to the Hubble Space Telescope servicing missions.

This episode of NASA Now is available on the NES Virtual Campus beginning Apr. 18.

Preview of NASA Now: Hubble Space Telescope

NES Educator and Students Embark on a High-Flying Adventure

Hey, NASA Explorer Schools teachers! NES educator Kaci Pilcher Heins has a great way to get students involved with STEM — high-altitude ballooning! She says, “Usually each state has a ballooning organization and is very willing to get students involved. We are heading to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott tomorrow (April 12, 2012) to launch our payload of temperature sensor, pressure sensor, camera, and sensitive film to try and capture gamma rays on board a high-altitude balloon. This is also a great opportunity for my sixth-graders to talk with university students as we tour the campus.” Pilcher Heins reports that they are also using amateur radio with the repeater on the balloon.

Here is a picture of the predicted flight path (prepared prior to the flight)

Map showing the projected flight path of the high altitude balloon

Here are two pictures of Earth taken during the high-altitude balloon flight on April 12

Photo showing curvature of Earth against the black of space as seen from the high-altitude balloon flight.

Photo showing curvature of Earth as seen from the high-altitude balloon flight.

Directly related to this activity is the NES featured lesson, Engineering Design: Forces and Motion — Balloon Aerodynamics.

And be sure to make a note in your calendar — on May 2, “NASA Now: Balloon Research” comes to the NES Virtual Campus.

Fourth Grade Students Request and Receive GRAIL Moon Image

One of two NASA spacecraft orbiting the moon has beamed back the first student-requested pictures of the lunar surface from its onboard camera. Fourth grade students from the Emily Dickinson Elementary School in Bozeman, Mont., received the honor of making the first image selections by winning a nationwide competition to rename the two spacecraft.

To read more about this student opportunity and see the image, visit the NASA feature story page. This story details an opportunity NASA opened to students to rename two spacecraft and of students getting involved in moon research serves as an excellent extension to the NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson, Engineering Design Process: On the Moon. Be sure to share this with your students who have completed this activity. To access this lesson, visit the NES Virtual Campus.

NASA Launches Destination Innovation Video Series

Destination InnovationNASA has launched a new video series called Destination Innovation that will air on NASA Television. The series is featured on the agency’s website, YouTube, Facebook and NASA’s apps for iPhone®, iPad® and Android™.

The first episode of Destination Innovation details the Kepler mission and is a great extension to the NES featured lesson, Algebraic Equations: Transit Tracks — Finding Habitable Planets.

To access the related NES featured lesson, log into the Virtual Campus and navigate to Algebraic Equations: Transit Tracks — Finding Habitable Planets, in the lesson library.

iPhone, iPad and iTunes are registered trademarks of Apple Inc.Android is a registered trademark of Google Inc.

Episode 1 – Kepler

NASA Releases Sector 33 Air Traffic Control Educational App

Sector 33 iTunes logoNASA has released a new educational game with an air traffic control theme for Apple iPhone and iPad devices. Sector 33 is designed to challenge students in middle school and above to use basic math and problem-solving skills.

This is a great companion app for the popular Distance-Rate-Time: Smart Skies lesson, available on the NES Virtual Campus.

An Android version of the app is in development and will be made available in the Android Marketplace in the coming months.

Visit Sector 33 for more information or to download the application free of charge.

NASA Releases First Multi-player Facebook Game

Space Race Blastoff logoNASA has launched its first multi-player online game totest players’ knowledge of the space program. Who was the firstAmerican to walk in space? Who launched the first liquid-fueledrocket? These are only a few of the questions players can answer inSpace Race Blastoff. 

Available on Facebook, Space Race Blastoff tests players’ knowledge ofNASA history, technology, science and pop culture. Players whocorrectly answer questions earn virtual badges depicting NASAastronauts, spacecraft and celestial objects. Players also earnpoints they can use to obtain additional badges to complete sets andearn premium badges. 

“Space Race Blastoff opens NASA’s history and research to a wide newaudience of people accustomed to using social media,” said DavidWeaver, NASA’s associate administrator for communications. “Spaceexperts and novices will learn new things about how explorationcontinues to impact our world.” 

NASA chose to make the game available through Facebook to takeadvantage of the social media site’s large audience and enableplayers to compete against others. Individuals also can play sologames. 

Once in the game, players choose an avatar and answer 10multiple-choice questions. Each correct answer earns 100 points, witha 20-point bonus to the player who answers first. The winner advancesto the bonus round to answer one additional question for more points. 

Correctly answering the bonus question earns the player a badge. 

Space Race Blastoff was developed by Scott Hanger, Todd Powell andJamie Noguchi of NASA’s Internet Services Group in the Office ofCommunications. Play the game now at

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

Message from the Administrator: Day of Remembrance – Jan. 26, 2012

Letterhead of NASA Administrator

Day of Remembrance – Jan. 26, 2012


This last week of January, as we do every year, the NASA family honors those who have lost their lives carrying out our missions and pays tribute to their lives and memories.


In the face of our greatest accomplishments, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that each time men and women board a spacecraft, their actions carry great risk along with the opportunity for great discoveries and the chance to push the envelope of our human achievement.


So on this Day of Remembrance, we honor the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia crews, as well as other members of the NASA family who died supporting NASA’s mission of exploration. We thank them and their families for their extraordinary sacrifices in the service of our nation.


As a family, we truly pull together, and our recovery from each of these tragedies has been heartbreaking and inspiring.  I thank all of you for the inspiration you provide to each other and me as we open the next great chapter of exploration.


Today, I lay wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery for these fallen heroes, and many of you, as in past years, join me in reflection on their lives and the greater purpose we all serve to reach new heights through our actions.  Across the country, all flags at NASA Headquarters and the NASA centers will be flown at half-mast in memory of our colleagues lost in the cause of exploration.


In memory of our colleagues, I ask all of you in the NASA family once again to always make your opinions known and be unafraid to speak up to those in authority, so that SAFETY CAN ALWAYS BE OUR GUIDING PRINCIPLE, and the sacrifices of our friends and colleagues will not be in vain.


We cherish the memories of our lost colleagues and friends and work hard every day to preserve and build on their legacies.  Their lives and work are inspiring each of us every day to carry out the missions of tomorrow and increase our capabilities to do more, learn more, and discover more.  There is no greater tribute we can pay!  Please join me in working to fulfill the dreams of these men and women for the future.


May God’s richest blessings be on the memory of our fallen comrades and on all of us on this solemn day of remembrance!


Charlie B.