Why the World Didn't End Yesterday

NASA is so sure the world won’t come to an end on Dec. 21, 2012, they have already released a video and news item for the day after.

According to media reports of an ancient Maya prophecy, the world was supposed to be destroyed on Dec. 21, 2012.

Apparently not.

“The whole thing was a misconception from the very beginning,” says Dr. John Carlson, director of the Center for Archaeoastronomy. “The Maya calendar did not end on Dec. 21, 2012, and there were no Maya prophecies foretelling the end of the world on that date.”

The truth, says Carlson, is more interesting than fiction.

To learn more, watch the video below or visit http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2012/14dec_yesterday/.

Credit: Science@NASA.

Yearlong International Space Station Mission Connects to NASA Now Classroom Video

NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency and their international partners have selected two veteran spacefarers for a one-year mission aboard the International Space Station in 2015. This mission will include collecting scientific data important to future human exploration of our solar system. NASA has selected Scott Kelly and the Russian Federal Space Agency has chosen Mikhail Kornienko.

Kelly and Kornienko will launch aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in spring 2015 and will land in Kazakhstan in spring 2016. Kelly and Kornienko already have a connection; Kelly was a backup crewmember for the station’s Expedition 23/24 crews, where Kornienko served as a flight engineer.

To read more about this mission, visit https://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/nov/HQ_12-406_ISS_1-Year_Crew.html.

This mission is an extension to NASA Now: Human Research on the ISS. NASA Now is an Emmy Award winning video series produced by NASA Explorer Schools. To stream or download this and other NASA Now programs, log onto the NES Virtual Campus at http://explorerschools.nasa.gov.

NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building Prepared for Multiple Rockets

Vehicle Assembly BuildingThe Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is undergoing renovations to accommodate future launch vehicles. Space shuttle-era work platforms have been removed and accommodations are being made to support a variety of future spacecraft, including NASA’s Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket. The changes are part of a centerwide modernization and refurbishment initiative in preparation for the next generation of human spaceflight.

One of the largest buildings in the world, the VAB was constructed in the mid-1960s to support stacking of the Apollo Saturn V rockets that took American astronauts to the moon. In the late 1970s, the facility was refurbished to accommodate the space shuttle.

To read more about this renovation, visit https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/ground/vab_platforms_removed.html.

This article serves as a good extension to the NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson, Linear Regression: Exploring Space Through Math—Space Shuttle Ascent. To access this lesson, first log into the NES Virtual Campus home page.

Spot the International Space Station from your own Backyard

Spot the StationDid you know you may be able see the International Space Station from your home? As the third brightest object in the sky, after the sun and moon, the space station is easy to see if you know where and when to look for it.

NASA’s Spot the Station service sends you an email or text message a few hours before the space station passes over your house. The space station looks like a fast-moving plane in the sky, though one with people living and working aboard it more than 200 miles above the ground. It is best viewed on clear nights.

For more information and to sign up for alerts, visit Spot The Station.

This opportunity is a great extension to NASA Now: The Mechanics of Solar Panels. To access this episode of the Emmy Award winning NASA Now series, log into the NES Virtual Campus.

Video Chat: Space Shuttle Atlantis Roll Over Celebration

Video chatNASA’s Digital Learning Network and NASA Explorer Schools are hosting a special event and video chat on Nov. 2, 2012, at 1 p.m. EDT to commemorate the departure of space shuttle Atlantis. DLN hosts Rachel Power and Joshua Santora will broadcast live from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as space shuttle Atlantis is transferred from the Vehicle Assembly Building to its permanent home at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

The “Roll Over” celebration will feature special guests including NASA Administrator and astronaut Charles Bolden, members of the space shuttle’s processing team and members of the team responsible for the design of the new home for Atlantis, who will answer student questions, as time permits.

The chat will be live on the NES Virtual Campus. Up to 15 minutes prior to the start of the chat, go to the event page and click on the big red “join chat” button. Student questions can be submitted by typing them in the chat window, or through Twitter by tagging the tweet with #NESChat, or by emailing them to NASA-Explorer-Schools@mail.nasa.gov. Include the student’s name, grade and school name.

NASA Space Telescope Sees the Light from an Alien Super-Earth

artist's concept of 55 Cancri e, a toasty "super-Earth" that rushes around its star every 18 hours.NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has detected light emanating from a “super-Earth” beyond our solar system for the first time. While the planet is not habitable, the detection is a historic step toward the eventual search for signs of life on other planets.

The planet, called 55 Cancri e, falls into a class of planets termed super Earths, which are more massive than our home world but lighter than giant planets like Neptune. The planet is about twice as big and eight times as massive as Earth. It orbits a bright star, called 55 Cancri, in a mere 18 hours.

For more information about this discovery, visit http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2012/08may_superearth/

Have you Heard the one About the Rubber Chicken?

Camilla the rubber chicken at Kennedy Space Center in front of the Vehicle Assembly BuildingLast month, when the sun unleashed the most intense radiation storm since 2003, peppering satellites with charged particles and igniting strong auroras around both poles, a group of high school students in Bishop, Calif., knew just what to do.They launched a rubber chicken.The students inflated a helium balloon and used it to send the fowl, named “Camilla,” to an altitude of 36.6 km, or 120,000 ft, where it was exposed to high-energy solar protons at point blank range.

Camilla flew twice–once on Mar. 3 before the radiation storm and again on Mar. 10 while the storm was in full swing, giving the students a basis for comparison.

Read more about how the chicken got to the “other side” by visiting http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2012/19apr_camilla/

If you’re interested in ballooning, check out the NES lesson, Engineering Design: Forces and Motion — Balloon Aerodynamics Challenge (requires log in to the NES Virtual Campus website).

Historic Shuttles to Arrive at Permanent Locations by Year's End

Silhouette of shuttle and transport jet during sunsetBy the end of 2012, NASA’s space shuttles will be in their new homes.

Recently, the shuttles were on the move as part of the transition and retirement activities at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

On Feb. 1, Bart Pannullo, NASA vehicle manager for transition and retirement, watched as shuttle Endeavour was backed out of the Vehicle Assembly Building and towed to Orbiter Processing Facility-2.

The next day, shuttle Atlantis made an appearance outside the VAB as it was towed from the VAB transfer aisle into high bay 4 for temporary storage. Atlantis is being prepared for public display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in 2013.

To read more about the final destinations for NASA’s historic space shuttles, you may visit https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/flyout/shuttles_tr.html.

This story is a great extension to share with your students after completing the NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson Linear Regression: Exploring Space Through Math — Space Shuttle Ascent. This lesson can be found on the Virtual Campus website.

Evolution of the Moon

Evolution of the Moon: From year to year, the moon never seems to change. Craters and other formations appear to be permanent now, but the moon didn’t always look like this. Thanks to NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, we now have a better look at some of the moon’s history.

Learn more in this video!