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Home Blogs Debbie Piecka Investigate NASA Resources for Back to School

Investigate NASA Resources for Back to School

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Written by dpiecka
16 Aug 2011

Investigate some new NASA educational resources this school year. Try listening to some NASA vodcasts or podcasts. Include your class in a NASA chat. Or check out the the Space Educator's Handbook.

Share tales about Opportunity, Discovery, and Voyages as in the Opportunity Mars Rover, discovery about potential evidence suggesting water flowing on Mars, and voyages to Jupiter. "This Week @ NASA" vodcasts and podcasts describe these and other STEM stories during the weekly NASA updates.

NASA Opportunity Mars Rover.

NASA's Mars Rover Opportunity has reached its next destination. Three years after climbing out of Victoria crater, Opportunity has completed an eleven-mile trek to the rim of Endeavour crater at a spot informally named "Spirit Point" after the rover’s decommissioned twin.

At 14 miles in diameter, Endeavour is an inviting work site for Opportunity. Orbital observations indicate that the ridges along its western rim expose rock outcrops older than any Opportunity has seen so far. Opportunity and Spirit completed their three-month prime missions on Mars in April 2004. Both rovers continued for years of bonus, extended missions, making important discoveries about wet environments on ancient Mars that may have been favorable for supporting microbial life.


Oblique View of Warm Season Flows in Newton Crater
Oblique View of Warm Season Flows in Newton Crater. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.

The dark, finger-like features shown in the image on the left that extend down some Martian slopes could be flowing water occurring during the warmest months on the planet Mars. NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, has been repeatedly tracking and observing seasonal changes in these recurring patterns in Mars' southern hemisphere.

This discovery could be vital to continued studies on whether life could exist on the Red Planet. According to scientists the flow of liquid briny water is the best explanation, thus far, for these dark lineations which spread down some Martian slopes during late spring through summer, fade in winter, and then return during the next spring. These observations are the closest scientists have come to finding evidence of liquid water on the planet's surface to date.


The Juno spacecraft begins a five-year cruise to the planet Jupiter to investigate the planet’s structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere. It will also provide detailed images of Jupiter's surface and capture the first high-resolution views of its poles.

The Juno spacecraft will orbit the gas giant for about a year and, in doing so will improve our understanding of our solar system’s beginnings by revealing the origin and evolution of Jupiter.

Jupiter shot, Cassini mission.
A true-color image of Jupiter taken by the Cassini spacecraft. The Galilean moon Europa casts a shadow on the planet's cloud tops.

NASA Chats

Live NASA Chats as well as their transcripts provide teachers and students with current information on many different STEM topics. I've highlighted a few in some of my blog posts. Examples include NASA Chat: Does Your Class Have Questions About Earthquakes?, Chatting about Ozone: "Bad" Ozone Threatens Human and Plant Health, andShrink your ozone footprint, become a scientist, save the planet.

Consider the recent NASA Chat: Striking Up a Conversation About Lightning. Participants received answers to these and many more questions including:

  1. How does lightning stop?
  2. What other planets have lightning?
  3. Do you think we'll ever be able to harness and store the energy in lightning? Are there any current experiments to that end?
  4. How hard is it to trigger lightning?
SpaceEducatorsHandbookLastly, you can use the Space Educators' Handbook web page or DVD to locate information about the Space Shuttle History and Contributions, Space Calendar, Space Astronomy, Space Robotics, Space Museum, Kids’ Space, Space Comics, Space Mathematics, NASA Spinoffs, Cool Hidden Stuff, and much more. You can use the resources on the web page or send in a DVD to get a copy of the Space Educators' Handbook.

You can review more information about these topics at the following links.

Which ones are you going to use in your classroom?  Comment below.






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