Veggie Arrives on the International Space Station

On April 18th, SpaceX-3 blasted off from Cape Canaveral with a plant growth chamber called Veggie, designed to make gardens thrive in weightlessness. The first crop will be a variety of lettuce called ‘Outredgeous.’ The first crop of Outredgeous should be ready for harvesting in late May, but astronauts won’t be allowed to taste-test.

First, the lettuce has to come back to Earth for analysis, to determine if it is safe to eat.  Scientists will look for any bacteria growing on the leaves If everything checks out, future crops may be eaten.

This latest development in plants in space is a great extension to the NES lesson, Engineering Design Challenge: Lunar Plant Growth Chamber.

For more information about Veggie, visit Science @ NASA or watch the video.

NASA and JAXA are about to launch a new satellite that can see through storms, tracking rain and snow around the globe better than any previous observatory. The Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory is scheduled to lift off from Japan on Feb. 27th.

The GPM mission can be used enhance the NES resources:

  • NES Lesson: Weather and Climate: Satellite Meteorology – Students use authentic data from geostationary satellites to detect and monitor forest fires and biomass burning. Students use the data to monitor the planet and identify urban heat islands.
  • NES Lesson: Electromagnetic Spectrum: Remote Sensing Ices on Mars – Students analyze data collected by Mars spacecraft using three different forms of electromagnetic energy — visible light, infrared, and gamma rays — to investigate the composition and distribution of ices at the high-latitude regions of Mars.
  • NASA Now: Climate Change: Sea Level Rise – Learn about the connection between oceans and global climate change. Find out why NASA measures greenhouse gases and how we detect ocean levels from space.


HIAD: Opening New Possibilities for Planetary Exploration

In this NASA Now classroom video, introduced by Danielle Schwan, NES educator at Lake Metroparks in Kirtland, Ohio, Walter Bruce, a thermal engineer at NASA Langley Research Center, explains how a Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator, or HIAD, works and he describes some possibilities for future planetary exploration that HIAD presents.

Look for the full-length video on the Virtual Campus website beginning Wednesday, Mar. 5, 2014.

NASA Now Minute

NASA Now: MAVEN: Exploring the Martian Atmosphere

NASA space scientist Jared Espley talks about the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission, or MAVEN, why it’s important to study the Martian atmosphere and what we hope to learn from the mission. NASA Now Minutes are excerpts from a weekly current events program available for classroom use at the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus.

The full-length classroom video will be available on the Virtual Campus beginning Jan. 22, 2014.

Here’s a sneak preview.

What Happened This Year @ NASA

In 2013, NASA helped transform access to low Earth orbit, even as one of our venerable spacecraft reached the boundaries of the solar system and we moved ahead on technologies that will help us carry out an ambitious asteroid mission we announced and, eventually, move on to Mars.

To watch a quick trip back through 2013 for those and some of the other big things that happened visit This Year at NASA on the NASA YouTube Channel.

NASA Now: Get Your Classroom Involved With LADEE

NASA Now Classroom Video: Get Your Class Involved With LADEE, available on the NES Virtual Campus website on Dec. 11, 2013. During the program, Brian Day, Director of Communication and Outreach at the Lunar Science Institute, presents an overview of NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE (pronounced like “laddie”), mission. He also discusses the importance of asteroids and why he chases solar eclipses. A link will be provided for students allowing them to contribute to the mission by counting meteors with the assistance of NASA’s Meteor Counter app.

Check out NASA Now Minute: Get Your Class Involved With LADEE at the NES Chanel on YouTube.

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

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

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:

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:

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

“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

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.