Approaching Asteroid Has Its Own Moon

NASA is tracking a large near-Earth asteroid as it passes by the Earth-Moon system on May 31st. Amateur astronomers in the northern hemisphere may be able to see the space rock for themselves during the 1st week of June. The closest approach of the asteroid occurs on May 31 at 4:59 p.m. EDT, when the asteroid will get no closer than about 5.8 million kilometers, or about 15 times the distance between Earth and the moon.

Approaching asteroid 1998 QE2 has a moon. Researchers found it in a sequence of radar images obtained by the 70-meter Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., on the evening of May 29th (May 30th Universal Time) when the asteroid was about 6 million kilometers from Earth.

For more information about Asteroids and OSIRIS-REx, log into the NES Virtual Campus and check out these three NASA Now classroom videos:
Earth and Space Science: Asteroids
Exploring Asteroids: An Analog Mission
Primitive Asteroids: OSIRIS-REx

To read more and see a video about asteroid 1998 QE2 go to Science@NASA.

Link to the NASA Explorer Schools home page.

NASA's OSIRIS-REx Mission Moves into Development Phase

NASA’s first mission to sample an asteroid is moving ahead into development and testing in preparation for its launch in 2016.

The Origins-Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx, passed a confirmation review Wednesday called Key Decision Point. NASA officials reviewed a series of detailed project assessments and authorized the spacecraft’s continuation into the development phase.OSIRIS-REx will rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu in 2018 and return a sample of it to Earth in 2023.

This is a great extension to NASA Now: Primitive Asteroids: OSIRIS-REx. NASA Now is an Emmy Award winning educational series provided by NASA Explorer Schools. To access this program, visit the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus.

To read more and watch a video overview of the OSIRIS-REx mission, visit

NASA Now: Space Science: Voyager's Grand Tour of the Solar System

NASA NowRebecca Wood from Lebanon Middle School in Lebanon, Kentucky introduces this NASA Now program.

Planetary scientist Lou Mayo discusses what we’re learning from the Voyager missions, where the two spacecraft are currently located and some of the incredible discoveries made on the long journey to the edge of our solar system.

This NASA Now classroom video is available on the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus beginning May 1, 2013.

NASA Now Minute

NASA Now: Engineering Design–Tiltrotors, Aircraft of the Future


Amanda Blough, a NASA Explorer Schools educator from Chambersburg, Penn., introduces NASA Now: Engineering Design: Tilt Rotors, Aircraft of the Future.

Meet Carl Russell, a research aerospace engineer at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California. His team is working on developing aircraft that use tilt rotors as opposed to traditional wings. He discusses how tilt rotors work, including how they demonstrate Bernoulli’s Principle to generate lift. He also shows how this technology could cut down on the time needed for takeoff and landing at the airport.

This NASA Now program is available on the NES Virtual Campus beginning April 17.

NASA Now Minute

NASA's Webb Telescope Gets Its Wings

A massive backplane that will hold the primary mirror of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope nearly motionless while it peers into space is another step closer to completion with the recent assembly of the support structure’s wings.

The wings enable the mirror, made of 18 pieces of beryllium, to fold up and fit inside a 5 meter, or 16.4 feet, fairing on a rocket, and then unfold to 6.4 meters, or 21 feet, in diameter after the telescope is delivered to space. All that is left to build is the support fixture that will house an integrated science instrument module, and technicians will connect the wings and the backplane’s center section to the rest of the observatory. The center section was completed in April 2012.

On May 17, 2012 NASA Explorer Schools held a live interactive Web chat with Nobel Laureate, Dr. John Mather. Dr. Mather, Senior Project Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope, joined NES to answer questions from students across the country. To watch his presentation and chat with NASA Explorer Schools students, visit the chat page titled, The Big Bang and The Milky Way .

To see pictures and read more about the James Webb Space Telescope, check out the article, NASA’s Webb Telescope Gets Its Wings.

NASA's NuSTAR Helps Solve Riddle of Black Hole Spin

Two X-ray space observatories, NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton, have teamed up to measure definitively, for the first time, the spin rate of a black hole with a mass 2 million times that of our sun.

The supermassive black hole lies at the dust- and gas-filled heart of a galaxy called NGC 1365, and it is spinning almost as fast as Einstein’s theory of gravity will allow. The findings, which appear in a new study in the journal Nature, resolve a long-standing debate about similar measurements in other black holes and will lead to a better understanding of how black holes and galaxies evolve.

To read more about NuSTAR’s discovery, visit

This article is a great extension to NASA Now: Electromagnetic Spectrum: NuSTAR. To access this program, visit the NASA Now page on the NES Virtual Campus.

NASA Now: Jet Engine Testing

Be sure not to miss the March 20, 2013 episode of NASA Now, introduced by NES educator Ty Fredricks, an educator from Orcutt, Calif., when Queito Thomas, a Test Operations Engineer at the NASA Glenn Research Center discusses how and why his team tests jet engines in the Propulsion Systems Laboratory.

This NASA Now classroom video is available on the NES Virtual Campus beginning Mar. 20, 2013.

NASA Now Minute

NASA Now: Inspiration and Education — Building a Career at NASA

NASA NowBe sure not to miss the March 6, 2013 episode of NASA Now, introduced by NES educator Erin Warrilow from Dresden Middle School, when three experts who work in very different fields at NASA discuss their jobs, responsibilities and what they enjoy most about their work. They also talk about what inspired them to pursue their careers and offer career advice to students.

Here’s a preview of the program.

NASA Now Minute

Link to the NASA Explorer Schools home page.

Curiosity Observes Unusual Rock on Mars

On Mars, as on Earth, sometimes things take on an unusual appearance. One example is a shiny-looking rock seen in a recent image from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover.

Some casual observers might see a resemblance to a car door handle, hood ornament or some other metallic object. To Ronald Sletten of the University of Washington, Seattle, a collaborator on Curiosity’s science team, the object is an interesting study in how wind and the natural elements cause erosion and other effects on various types of rocks.

To see an image of this rock, visit

Find out what likely caused the shiny appearance of the Martian rock, and see some examples of similar phenomena found on Earth. A PDF of the images and explanatory text are available at

This story marks yet another discovery by Curiosity. 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 the video on the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus.