NASA Now: Designing a New Martian Rover

In this NASA Now classroom video, introduced by NES educator, Ken Schopf at Laurel School in Ohio, aerospace engineer Jennifer Keyes shows how NASA engineers developed “TumbleCup,” a concept rover capable of traveling large distances on Mars.
This classroom video is available on the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus beginning April 9, 2014.
Check-out a preview of the video below.
NASA Now Minute

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.

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.

Contest: What Would you Send to the ISS?

The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization managing research onboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, today announced a four-week contest titled “What Would You Send to the ISS?”, which is open to the general public for submissions. Unlike Requests for Proposals CASIS has previously released, submissions for this contest can simply be ideas or concepts, not precise proposals for research. The contest runs through September 16, 2013, just in time to get your students’ creative juices flowing.

To learn more about this contest and how to submit an idea, visit

Be sure to check out all of the ISS-related NASA Now classroom videos and featured lessons on the NES Virtual Campus. Just log into the Virtual Campus and search for “ISS” to see the list of 16 classroom-ready resources to inspire you and your students.

“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.

NASA’s IBEX provides first view of the solar system’s tail

It has long been assumed that our solar system, like a comet, has a tail. Just as any object moving through another medium – for example, a meteor traveling through Earth’s atmosphere – causes the particles to form a stream trailing off behind it. But the tail of our solar bubble, called the heliosphere, has never actually been observed, until now.

NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, has mapped the boundaries of the tail of the heliosphere, something that has never before been possible. Scientists describe this tail, called the heliotail, in detail in a paper published on July 10, 2013, in The Astrophysical Journal. By combining observations from the first three years of IBEX imagery, the team mapped out a tail that shows a combination of fast and slow moving particles. There are two lobes of slower particles on the sides, faster particles above and below, with the entire structure twisted, as it experiences the pushing and pulling of magnetic fields outside the solar system.

To see images and read more about this development, visit

This discovery is a great extension to NASA Now: Space Science: Voyager’s Grand Tour of the Solar System. To access this video, visit the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus website.

Mars rover passes half-way point to next destination

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, has traveled more than half of the distance needed to get from a site where it spent 22 months to its next destination.

The rover has less than 800 meters to go to finish a 2 kilometer dash from the rim of one crater segment, where it has worked since mid-2011, to another, where mission controllers intend to keep Opportunity busy during the upcoming Martian winter.

Opportunity departed the southern tip of the Cape York segment 6 weeks ago and headed south for Solander Point. Both are raised portions of the western rim of 22 kilometer-wide Endeavour Crater, offering access to older geological deposits than the rover visited during its first seven years on Mars.

This story is a great extension to the NES NASA Now Mars Month episodes housed on the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus website.

To read more about Opportunity and why it’s heading to Solander Point, visit

NASA Selects 2013 Astronaut Candidate Class

After an extensive year-and-a-half search, NASA has a new group of potential astronauts who will help the agency push the boundaries of exploration and travel to new destinations in the solar system. Eight candidates have been selected to be NASA’s newest astronaut trainees.

The 2013 astronaut candidate class comes from the second largest number of applications NASA ever has received — more than 6,100. The group will receive a wide array of technical training at space centers around the globe to prepare for missions to low-Earth orbit, an asteroid and Mars.

To read more about the individuals selected as the 2013 astronaut candidate class, visit

To check out what these new astronaut candidates will have to prepare for in space, check out NASA Now: The Body In Space. This video can be found on the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus.

Pebbly Rocks on Mars Testify to Old Stream Bed

Rock outcrop on Mars
Detailed analysis and review have borne out researchers’ initial interpretation of pebble-containing slabs that NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity investigated last year: They are part of an ancient stream bed.

The rocks are the first ever found on Mars that contain stream bed gravel. The sizes and shapes of the gravel embedded in these conglomerate rocks — from the size of sand particles to the size of golf balls — enabled researchers to calculate the depth and speed of the water that once flowed at this location.

To learn more about the challenges the Mars Science Laboratory team faced during Curiosity’s landing, also known as the “seven minutes of terror”, check out NASA Now: Forces and Motion: Curiosity—Entry, Descent and Landing. You can access this classroom video on the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus.

To read more about this discovery by Curiosity on Mars, visit