STS-133 Prelaunch Webcast for Students (date & time update 11-3-10)

Mission Webcast logo shown on TV screen

Date and time to be determined, based on the STS-133 launch schedule: Join hosts Damon Talley and Rachel Power LIVE onthe Web from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for the launch of STS-133 and learnabout the mission and crew.

Theshuttle Discovery’s mission will carry Robonaut 2, the Permanent MultipurposeModule, and the Express Logistics Carrier 4 to the International Space Station.STS-133 will be the 35th shuttle mission to the station.

Submitquestions, both leading up to and during the LaunchCast, at Questions will be answered during the live webcast!

Towatch the webcast, go to

To get the latest information about the launch and progress of STS-133, visit the mission website.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus website.

NASA Now — The Search for Life

NASA now logoWatch this week’s episode of NASA Now and learn about a mission proposal to send a satellite to Jupiter and its moons Europa and Ganymede. The mission will map the Jovian magnetosphere and its interactions with the Galilean satellites. The mission will characterize water oceans beneath the ice shells of Europa and Ganymede, as we search for signs of life elsewhere in the universe.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus.

The Year of the Solar System

image of comet Hartley 2Teachers – Get Ready!

To mark an unprecedented flurry of exploration which is about to begin, NASA announced recently that the coming year will be “The Year of the Solar System” (YSS).

“During YSS, we’ll see triple the [usual] number of launches, flybys and orbital insertions,” says Jim Green, Director of Planetary Science at NASA headquarters. “There hasn’t been anything quite like it in the history of the Space Age. History will remember the period Oct. 2010 through Aug. 2012 as a golden age of planetary exploration.”

Tthe action begins near the end of October 2010 with a visit to Comet Hartley 2. On Oct. 20th, Hartley 2 will have a close encounter with Earth; only 11 million miles away, it will be faintly visible to the naked eye and become a splendid target for backyard telescopes. Amateur astronomers can watch the comet as NASA’s Deep Impact/EPOXI spacecraft dives into its vast green atmosphere and plunges toward the icy core. On Nov. 4th EPOXI will fly a mere 435 miles from Hartley’s nucleus, mapping the surface and studying outbursts of gas at close-range.

The Year of the Solar System concludes in August 2012 when Curiosity, a roving science lab scheduled to launch in November, lands on Mars. The roving nuclear-powered science lab will take off across the red sands sniffing the air for methane (a possible sign of life) and sampling rocks and soil for organic molecules. Curiosity’s advanced sensors and unprecedented mobility are expected to open a new chapter in exploration of the Red Planet.

(Note: The animation shows Comet Hartley 2 moving through the night sky on Oct. 1, 2010 as captured by amateur astronomer Patrick Wiggins of Utah. The animation consists of a series of 13 ten-second exposures of the comet each spaced five minutes apart between 0901 and 1004 UTC. Wiggins, who is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador, used a 35cm Celestron C-14 operating at f/5.5. Image credit: Patrick Wiggins, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.)

Author: Dr. Tony Phillips

Link to the NES Virtual Campus

NASA Now: Earth Science Week–Exploring Energy

NASA Now logoThe goal of Earth Science Week is to encourage students, educators and the public to explore the natural world and learn about geosciences.


During this installment of NASA Now, you’ll see some of the ways NASA studies Earth. You’ll meet Eric Brown de Colstoun, a physical scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. He describes his work on a NASA project called the Earth Observing System. The EOS consists of a number of satellites measuring the properties of Earth. The remotely sensed electromagnetic data from these satellites are used to examine physical and chemical processes of the Earth system. This allows for a better understanding of climate and climate change, weather patterns, fresh water availability, and other global and local concerns.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus website

NASA Optimus Prime Spinoff Award Contest Open

Optimus Prime
Did you know that space technology is all around you? For example, the heart defibrillator and purified water are technologies developed by NASA engineers, scientists and innovators. NASA is required to share its technologies with the public. The public then can take these technologies and make them into something that you can use around your house, at school or even on the road. These are known as spinoffs.

NASA is collaborating with Hasbro using the correlation between the popular Transformers brand and spinoffs from NASA technologies. The OPTIMUS PRIME Spinoff Award promotes NASA spinoffs, recognizes innovation through technology transfer and promotes innovative communication of spinoff stories to the public through video. The OPTIMUS PRIME Spinoff Award serves to acknowledge the contribution of both NASA innovators and the companies that spun-off NASA technology for commercial applications, as well as to educate America’s youth about the benefits of NASA spinoff technology.

This is a video contest for students from third to eighth grade. Each student, or group of students, will submit a three- to five-minute video on a selected NASA spinoff technology listed in the 2009 Spinoff publication. Videos must demonstrate an understanding of the NASA spinoff technology and the associated NASA mission, as well as the commercial application and public benefit associated with the “transformed” technology. Video entries are due by December 31.

For more information about NASA Spinoffs check out the Spinoff Spotlight.

Link to the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus website. 

Forest Lake Elementary Technology Magnet School featured on NBC Nightly News

Forest Lake Elementary Technology Magnet School (Columbia, South Carolina), a NASA Explorer Schools project participant since 2006, was featured on the “NBC Nightly News” on Oct. 1 as part of a week-long series on trends and innovation in education. The team at Forest Lake has won numerous accolades for turning the school’s performance around by using innovative teaching methods. The staff credits the NES project as one of their main catalysts.

View the video clip.

Link to the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus website.

DIME and WING Student Competitions

Downward view in a NASA drop tower.Dropping In a Microgravity Environment, or DIME, is a competition for high school student teams. WING — “What If No Gravity?” — is the competition for student teams in sixth through ninth grades. Both competitions challenge student teams from the U.S. and U.S. territories to develop and prepare a microgravity experiment. Each team must have an adult supervisor.

Proposals are due Nov. 1, 2010.

Winning teams will design and build the experiments that will be conducted in the 79-foot drop tower at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. When the experiment is dropped, it experiences weightlessness, or microgravity, for 2.2 seconds.

The top four DIME teams will receive an all-expenses-paid trip in March to conduct their experiments, review the results with NASA personnel and tour Glenn’s facilities. All DIME participants visiting NASA must be U.S. citizens.

Four additional DIME teams and up to 30 WING teams will be selected to build their experiments and ship them to Glenn to be drop-tested by NASA. These experiments and the resulting data will be returned to the teams so they can prepare reports about their findings.

For more information about entering NASA’s DIME and WING student team
competitions, visit

Link to the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus home page.


The NASA Now program series highlights a current NASA mission,area of research, or career within the agency.

In this, our first program of the 2010-2011 school year, introduce your science or technology classes toone of the many complex problems associated with living and working on the moonor another planetary body. In this NASA Now episode, students get a glimpse at theresearch conducted at NASA’s Lunar SLOPE facility, where scientists andengineers design, build and test wheels for the next generation rover vehicle. Studentssee how the SLOPE scientists and engineers test their prototype wheels on anartificial lunar surface developed especially for this project. Students will geta feel for how the unique properties of the lunar soil shape the design of thewheels.

The event is available atthe NES Virtual Campus’s NASA Now page beginning Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010.

Visit the NASA Explorer Schools home page and click on NASA Now!

Related competitions: 

     Earth Science Week 2010 Photography Contest — Open to All Ages. Deadline for submissions is Oct. 15. 2010.
     Microgravity Competition — High School. Deadline for proposals is Nov 1. 2010.

Webcast on Aug. 31, 2010 — Our Solar System: An Inquiry Tour

The Aerospace Education Services Project, or AESP, is presenting a free webcast on Aug. 31, 2010, at 4 p.m. EDT. Teachers of grades 5-8 are invited to take a learning tour of the solar system in this hour-long inquiry-based professional development webcast. The webcast will show teachers how to use NASA missions and curriculum support materials in the classroom. Participants will develop a better understanding about Earth’s neighbors in space and their relationship to Earth.

For more information and to view the webcast, visit

Blast Back to School with NASA Education Resources

As you get ready for the new school year, consider adding a little space to your class.

NASA offers educational resources for use with kindergarten through college, as well as resources for the informal education community. Many of NASA’s educational products are quick and easy to find on the NASA website. 

Visit the NASA Blast Back to School page to find educational resources and NASA events taking place in your area. From the site, you can find information relating to the following topics:

  • NASA Explorer Schools.

  • NASA Summer of Innovation.
  • Current Opportunities for Students and Educators.
  • National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program.

  • Taking Up Space Blog.
  • Go Backstage With NASA Education.
  • Homework Topics for Students.

  • NASA’s Education Resources,
  • Easy Ways to Obtain NASA Educational Materials.
  • Find NASA Teaching Materials.

  • NASA’s Educator Resource Center Network.

  • Central Operation of Resources for Educators.
  • Educational Multimedia.

For more information, visit the Blast Back to School page:

Link to the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus home page.