NASA Education “Science WOW!” Message — Feb. 8, 2017

Check out the latest edition of NASA Education’s “Science WOW!” — your source for NASA opportunities in science education delivered “Weekly On Wednesday.”

Check out the latest edition of NASA Education’s “Science WOW!” — your source for NASA opportunities in science education delivered “Weekly On Wednesday.”

Science Always Starts With a Question …

This Week’s Question: What’s That Bright Object in the Night Sky?

Your answer could be our moon, Venus, Mars or Uranus. Two comets and the asteroid Vesta also shine. Find out how to see these objects and more in the night sky during February 2017.

Have You Seen This?

Get ready for Valentine’s Day with space-themed Printable Valentine’s Day Cards from the Space Place!

Visit to download and print!

Opportunities for Future Scientists of All Ages

Science Opportunities for Educators of Grades K-12

Science Opportunities for Higher Education and Informal Institutions

Opportunities for Future Scientists of All Ages

**NEW** 2017 von Kármán Lecture Series — Attend in Person or View Online
Audience: All Educators; Students in Grades 9-12 and Higher Education
Next Lecture Date: Feb. 9 and Feb. 10, 2017, at 7 p.m. PST (10 p.m. EST)

The Theodore von Kármán Lecture Series, named after the founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and presented by JPL’s Office of Communication and Education, shares the excitement of the space program’s missions, instruments and other technologies.

Lectures take place twice per month, on consecutive Thursdays and Fridays. The Thursday lectures take place in JPL’s Theodore von Kármán Auditorium, and Friday lectures take place at Pasadena City College’s Vosloh Forum. Both start at 7 p.m. PDT (10 p.m. EDT). Admission and parking are free for all lectures. No reservations are required, but seating is limited. The Thursday evening lectures are streamed live for viewing online. Archives of past lectures are also available online.

Next Lecture in the Series:

Free Lecture — In Hot Water: Glacier Change and Sea Level Rise
Event Date:
Feb. 9 and Feb. 10, 2017, at 7 p.m. PST (10 p.m. EST)
Glaciers and ice sheets hold massive amounts of freshwater locked up as ice. The loss of glacial ice due to melting as our climate warms or from calving of icebergs can have large impacts on the Earth system and on society. Join Alex Gardner, an Earth scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, for a discussion about these rapid changes as seen through the eyes of a NASA glaciologist.

For more information about the Theodore von Kármán Lecture Series, including a complete list of upcoming lectures, visit

Questions about this series should be directed to

2016-2017 Cassini Scientist for a Day Essay Contest
Audience: 5-12 Students
Entry Deadline: Feb. 24, 2017

The Cassini Scientist for a Day contest challenges students to become NASA scientists studying Saturn. Participants examine three of the best scientific targets imaged by the Cassini spacecraft in its 12 years at Saturn. After researching the topics, students are to choose the one they think yielded the best scientific results. This year’s targets are Enceladus’ plumes, Titan’s lakes and Saturn’s hexagon. After researching the three options, students write an essay of fewer than 500 words explaining their choice.

The contest is open to all students in the United States in grades 5-12. The essays will be divided into three groups for scoring: grades 5-6, 7-8 and 9-12. All submissions must be students’ original work. Participants may enter as individuals or as part of a team of up to four students.

The deadline for entries is Feb. 24, 2017.

For more information, visit

If you have questions about this contest, please email

Fly Your Exoplanet on the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite
Audience: All Educators and Students
Submission Deadline: March 1, 2017

Set to launch in June 2018, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite is an explorer-class planet finder. In the first-ever spaceborne all-sky transit survey, TESS will identify planets ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants and will orbit a wide range of stellar types and orbital distances. As the TESS team prepares for launch, it invites the public to ponder what exoplanets might look like and share their ideas in the form of sketches and graphics.

This opportunity is open to all ages and skill levels. Submissions will be collected via email. To download the template for submitting your artwork, visit

The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2017, or when capacity of the drive carrying the submissions to space is reached, whichever occurs first.

To learn more about the TESS mission, visit

Questions about this opportunity should be directed to

Science Opportunities for Educators of Grades K-12

Free Education Webinars From NASA Educator Professional Development
Audience: In-service, Pre-service, Home School and Informal Educators

The NASA STEM Educator Professional Development Collaborative at Texas State University is presenting a series of free webinars open to all educators. Join NASA education specialists to learn about activities, lesson plans, educator guides and resources that bring NASA into your classroom. Registration is required to participate. To register, simply click on the link provided beneath the webinar description.

**NEW** Technology Enables Exploration: BEST Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM)
Audience: Pre-service, In-service, Home School, and Informal Educators of Grades K-12
Event Date: Feb. 13, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. EST
Participants will learn about how technology enables exploration. Using the Beginning Engineering Science and Technology, or BEST, curriculum, participants will learn how to use the engineering design process to build a satellite and to test green propellant. Participants also will learn about current research at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California. This educational activity aligns to NASA Education API 2.4.2 – “Continue to support STEM educators through the delivery of NASA education content and engagement in educator professional development opportunities.” Register online to participate.

**NEW** Technology Enables Exploration: Designing Shoebox Satellites and Rovers in the Classroom
Audience: Pre-service, In-service, Home School and Informal Educators of Grades 2-12
Event Date: Feb. 15, 2017, at 4 p.m. EST
This STEAM webinar encourages educators to complete an engineering design challenge using the “Ask, Imagine and Plan” engineering design process with their students. Participants will review the NASA teacher guides available online at no cost. These shoebox challenges incorporate simple machines and scientific missions. Participants will review lesson plans, materials, student handouts, instructional strategies, protocols, assessments and cross-curricular implementation. Register online to participate.

For a full schedule of upcoming NASA Educator Professional Development webinars, visit

Questions about this series of webinars should be directed to Steve Culivan at

2017 Space Exploration Educators Conference
Audience: K-12 Educators
Event Date: Feb. 9-11, 2017

Make plans to attend the 23rd Annual Space Exploration Educators Conference to be held Feb. 9-11, 2017, at Space Center Houston. This conference is for all K-12 educators. Activities presented use space-related themes to teach across the curricula. The activities may be used for science, language arts, mathematics, history and more.

Attend sessions hosted by scientists and engineers working on exciting projects like the International Space Station and the exploration of Mars and other parts of our solar system. Hear from astronauts who will be “leading the charge” in exploration. Attend sessions presented by educators and receive ready-to-implement classroom ideas. Attendees can earn up to 24 hours of continuing professional education credit.

For more information, visit

Please email any questions about the conference to

Mars Survival Kit: Lessons and Activities to Guide Your Exploration of Mars!
Audience: K-12 Educators

NASA is embarking on a journey to Mars! Are your students ready to join in the adventure? Spark excitement in your classroom with the Mars Survival Kit.

The Mars Survival Kit is a collection of educational activities for students in grades K-12. Each educational activity includes a brief description, as well as information about how the activities and lessons align to the Next Generation Science Standards.

Start your classroom’s journey to Mars at

To learn more about NASA’s Journey to Mars, visit

Opportunities for Higher Education and Informal Institutions

2017 Planetary Geology and Geophysics Undergraduate Research Program
Audience: Undergraduate Students Majoring in Geology or a Related Science
Application Deadline: Feb. 10, 2017

The Planetary Geology and Geophysics Undergraduate Research Program, or PGGURP, pairs qualified undergraduate students with NASA-funded investigators at research locations across the U.S. for eight weeks during the summer. Students spend the summer at the NASA scientists’ home institutions. Selected students receive a cost-of-living stipend and compensation for housing and travel.

Undergraduate students majoring in geology or related sciences are eligible to apply. Students graduating in 2017 who have not started graduate school yet are also eligible. Preference is given to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

Applications are due Feb. 10, 2017.

For more information, visit

If you have questions about this opportunity, please email Robyn Wagner, PGGURP administrator, at

NASA’s Ames Research Center Summer Internships — NASA Astrobiology Institute
Audience: Undergraduate Students Who Have Completed Their Sophomore Year or More
Application Deadline: Feb. 15, 2017

The NASA Astrobiology Institute at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California is looking for internship candidates for summer 2017 sessions. Internship opportunities are available within three modules of NAI research.

Laboratory Studies of Chemical Processing in Astrophysical Ices
The intern will work in the Astrochemistry and Astrophysics Laboratory to help carry out experiments designed to study the photochemistry and catalytic chemistry that occurs in astrophysical ice analogs of cometary, planetary and interstellar ices. Emphasis will be placed on how these processes produce organic compounds, particularly compounds of astrobiological interest.

Computer Modeling of Protoplanetary Disks
The intern will work on astronomical modeling of planet-forming disks using existing computational models. The main task will be to apply these models to one or two objects and infer the physical and chemical conditions in planet-forming regions of the disk. The intern will learn to compute disk models, analyze results, and compare observable signatures with available astronomical data from disks.

Computational Quantum Chemistry Studies of Astrophysical Ices and Gases
Computational quantum chemistry is an important tool to elucidate the detailed mechanisms of quantum chemical reactions in both the gas and condensed phases. The intern will study important reactions that lead to the gas and solid-state formation of biogenic molecules using computer programs. Work will include exploring molecular structures, reaction rates, spectroscopic constants and reaction pathways of important biomolecules and their precursors.

Students selected for all three 10-week internships will do real, ongoing NASA research. It is anticipated that these efforts may lead to one or more reports or peer-reviewed scientific publications on which the student would be coauthor. 

These opportunities are open to underrepresented students who are currently enrolled in a college or university and who have successfully completed their sophomore, junior or senior years with a GPA of 3.0 or higher (based on a 4.0 scale). Applicants must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Members of underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.

Application materials are due Feb. 15, 2017.

For more information and complete application process details, visit

Questions about this opportunity should be directed to Scott Sandford at

Call for Abstracts: 68th International Astronautical Congress
Audience: Full-time U.S. Graduate Students Attending U.S. Universities
Submission Deadline: Feb. 27, 2017

NASA announces its intent to participate in the 68th International Astronautical Congress, or IAC, and requests that full-time U.S. graduate students attending U.S. universities respond to this “Call for Abstracts.”

The IAC — which is organized by the International Astronautical Federation, or IAF; the International Academy of Astronautics, or IAA; and the International Institute of Space Law, or IISL — is the largest space-related conference worldwide and selects an average of 1,000 scientific papers every year. The upcoming IAC will be held Sept. 25-29, 2017, in Adelaide, Australia. NASA’s participation in this event is part of an ongoing effort to connect NASA with the astronautical and space international community.

This “Call for Abstracts” is a precursor to a subsequent submission of a final paper, which may be presented at the 68th IAC. Student authors are invited to submit an abstract regarding an original, unpublished paper that has not been submitted in any other forum. A NASA technical review panel will select abstracts from those that have been accepted by the International Astronautical Federation. This opportunity is for graduate students majoring in fields related to the IAF research topics. Students may submit technical (oral) presentations and/or posters. Students may submit abstracts that are co-authored with their Principal Investigators. However, the student must be the “lead author,” and only the student will present at the IAC. Students must be available to travel to the conference to represent NASA and their universities. Students must be U.S. citizens, attending a U.S. university, who plan to enter a career in space science or aeronautics. Pending the availability of funding, graduate students selected by NASA to participate in the IAC will be considered for subsidy funding from NASA.

Many students and professors currently are involved in NASA-related research that could be considered for this submission. Students submitting abstracts are strongly encouraged to seek advice from professors who are conducting NASA research and/or from NASA scientists and engineers. Abstracts must be related to NASA’s ongoing vision for space exploration and fit into one of the following IAC categories:

— Science and Exploration — Systems sustaining missions, including life, microgravity, space exploration, space debris and Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, or SETI
— Applications and Operations — Ongoing and future operational applications, including earth observation, communication, navigation, human space endeavors and small satellites
— Technology — Common technologies to space systems including astrodynamics, structures, power and propulsion
— Infrastructure — Systems sustaining space missions including space system transportation, future systems and safety
— Space and Society — Interaction of space with society including education, policy and economics, history, and law

The criteria for the selection will be defined according to the following specifications:
— Abstracts should specify purpose, methodology, results, conclusions and areas for discussion.
— Abstracts should indicate that substantive technical and/or programmatic content is included.
— Abstracts should clearly indicate that the material is new and original; they should explain why and how.
— Prospective author(s) should certify that the paper was not presented at a previous meeting.

Abstracts must be written in English, and the length should not exceed 400 words. Tables or drawings are not allowed in the abstract.

NOTE: If you plan to seek assistance from NASA, you must submit to the International Astronautical Federation and to NASA.
— Submit your abstract to the IAF at their website by Feb. 28, 2017 (11:59:00 CET).
— Submit your abstract to NASA at no later than 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, Feb. 27, 2017.

IAC Paper Selection
Submitted abstracts will be evaluated by the Session Chairs on the basis of technical quality and relevance to the session topics. Selected abstracts may be chosen for eventual oral or poster presentation. Any such choice is not an indication of quality of the submitted abstract. Their evaluation will be submitted to the Symposium Coordinators. They will make acceptance recommendations to the International Programme Committee, which will make the final decision. Please note that any relevance to the Congress main theme will be considered as an advantage.

The following information must be included in the submission: paper title, name of contact author, name of co-author(s), organization(s), full postal address, phone, email of the author and co-author(s). The abstract should specify purpose, methodology, results and conclusions. The abstract should indicate that substantive technical and/or programmatic content is included, as well as clearly indicate that the material is new and original and explain why and how.

Please check the IAF website ( regularly to get the latest updates on the Technical Programme.


Check out the new ‘Explore NASA Science’ website!
Science starts with questions, leading to discoveries. Explore the redesigned NASA Science site and send us feedback. Visit To view the site in Spanish, visit

Don’t miss out on upcoming NASA education opportunities
For a full list of events, opportunities and more, visit the Educators and Students Current Opportunity pages on NASA’s website:
— Educators
— Students

Are you looking for NASA educational materials to support your STEM curriculum?
Search hundreds of resources by subject, grade level, type and keyword at

Find NASA science resources for your classroom.
NASA Wavelength is a digital collection of Earth and space science resources for educators of all levels — from elementary to college, to out-of-school programs.

Visit NASA Education on the web:
NASA Office of Education:
For Educators:
For Students:
NASA Kids’ Club:

Did you miss last week’s NASA Education Science WOW! newsletter?
Visit the Science WOW! blog for an archive of previous messages.