Thursday, March 20, 2008

Back in MD after a successful and interesting LPSC

Last week Steph and I attended the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in TX. We had a great time, caught up with old friends, met new ones, and learned a lot. The two education workshops, one on the Moon and one on Mercury and Pluto, went well. Our poster presentation on Tuesday night was also a hit. We had tons of people stop by from various NASA centers and missions, universities, and even the European Space Agency (ESA). While most of the visitors to our poster had heard of Second Life before, not many of them had ever tried it out. All were surprised to learn about all of the space-and science-related activities already occurring there and were very intrigued by our suggestions for how it could be used for participatory exploration.

For a great account of the week's events and some of the major scientific presentations from LPSC, visit this Nature reporter's blog.

Friday, March 7, 2008

39th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

Geosteph and I are leaving this weekend to travel to TX for the 39th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. It's a week-long conference for international planetary scientists and educators to present their current research and mission results. The conference consists of both talks and poster presentations on a variety of subjects. View the enitre program, which includes links to the abstracts.

On Sunday, Geosteph will help lead a workshop called Reaching the Moon for planetary scientists and educators. Then on Wednesday we'll both lead a workshop for educators called Fire and Ice about the MESSENGER mission to Mercury and the New Horizons mission to Pluto. There may still be slots available for these workshops. Click here to learn more.

On Tuesday, we will be presenting a poster on Tuesday night in the Education and Public Outreach Programs session to accompany our abstract, which is about how NASA might use Second Life for informal space science education and participatory exploration.

If we're lucky, Geosteph might tweet from the meeting so stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

How much ice might be on Mercury? Use math to find out!

The NASA MESSENGER spacecraft performed its first flyby of Mercury on January 14, 2008. In addition to mapping the entire surface of the planet, one of its goals is to shed new light on the existence of ice in the polar regions of this hot planet. Ice on Mercury? It's not as strange as it seems! Click here to learn more and to access a pdf that provides a series of space math questions (and an answer key) related to this topic. For more classroom activities related to ice in on Mercury and elsewhere in our solar system click here. For more space math problems visit A new space math problem is added every week!

Monday, March 3, 2008

LRO Looking like a spacecraft!

Howdy folks. Last week was a really exciting week for us here at Goddard Space Flight Center. On Thursday, February 28, four of the six outermost panels were attached to the propulsion module! We were sure to capture the exciting progress so all of you could see it too! The video included in this blog shows the hard-working people of LRO in the clean room assembling the bits and pieces of the spacecraft. You'll first see the avionics panel being set upright. Then the propulsion tank assembly is brought into the tent, and the instrument module, reaction wheel, and avionics panels are attached. As you can see, our little spacecraft is growing up!