Recently in Education Category

Spaceship Earth Grants Launches Global Spaceflight Contest

"Spaceship Earth Grants Launches Global Spaceflight Contest - "Spaceship Earth Grants Corp. (SEG), a Public Benefit Corporation, is committed to making the space experience accessible to as many people as possible. SEG offers applicants a chance to travel to space while helping to fund efforts and organizations that are making a significant positive impact on planet Earth. SEG will be providing grants to individuals and organizations that are likewise committed to bettering their communities. For more information, visit spaceshipearthgrants.com.

About Star Harbor Space Training Academy - Star Harbor Space Training Academy will be the first-in-the-world publicly accessible, fully comprehensive and environmentally immersive space training academy. The Star Harbor team is led by CEO Maraia Hoffman and includes former NASA Astronauts Leland Melvin and Ron Garan. More information about Star Harbor will be announced in October."

Keith's note: The New NASA Education AA is Don James. Official announcement soon.

President Obama to Host First-Ever White House Maker Faire

"A new announcement of opportunity for CubeSat developers later this year, with the goal of broadening its reach to all 50 states by targeting the 21 "rookie states" that have had no previous CubeSat presence in space, and will leverage the existing NASA Space Grant network of colleges and universities. CubeSats provide the opportunity for Makers to build small satellites to demonstrate new innovative technologies and conduct scientific research in a space environment. To date, NASA has selected CubeSats from 29 states, 17 of which have already been launched, and two more are slated to go to space later this year."

Keith's note: NASA does not seem to be doing anything for White House Maker Faire today. If they are they are not telling anyone.

Keith's update: This was just tweeted. Still nothing but crickets from CASIS and the ISS National Laboratory folks.

President Obama to Host White House Science Fair

"Khan Academy and NASA Collaborate to Help More Students Learn the Math and Science Behind Going to Mars:  Today, NASA and Khan Academy are collaborating to launch www.khanacademy.org/NASA, a series of interactive lessons that invite users to engage with the science and mathematics used to measure our universe and the exciting engineering problems involved in launching and landing on Mars and other space exploration endeavors."

NASA Advisory Committee meeting agenda, dial-in/Webex instructions

Keith's note: Adapted from several messages circulating on Google+: "JSC is pulling the plug on Space Station Live due to budget cuts. You are encouraged to contact the space agency and ask to reconsider the decision. As suggested on the site, you can submit your concerns by emailing NASA official Jennifer B. Price at jsc-isslive@mail.nasa.gov with ISS Live Web Site in the Subject.

ISS Live is a unique resource. It displays real-time telemetry data on the space station's electrical, environmental, attitude control, communications, and other systems. Mobile apps for Android and iOS are also available for checking the telemetry on your smartphone or tablet. Live telemetry, from a real spaceship. A lot of the same data flight controllers have on their console displays at NASA's Mission Control Center in Houston. This is possibly one of the geekiest resources ever."

Studying Gender in Conference Talks: Data From 223rd American Astronomical Society Meeting

"The most significant result from this study is that while the gender ratio of speakers very closely mirrors that of conference attendees, women are under-represented in the question-asker category. We interpret this to be an age-effect, as senior scientists may be more likely to ask questions, and are more commonly men. A strong dependence on the gender of session chairs is found, whereby women ask disproportionately fewer questions in sessions chaired by men. While our results point to laudable progress in gender-balanced speaker selection, we believe future surveys of this kind would help ensure that collaboration at such meetings is as inclusive as possible."

First CASIS-Sponsored Payloads Berthed to the International Space Station

"Below is an overview of the major payloads now on board the ISS sponsored by CASIS: ... Story Time From Space - Patricia Tribe, T2 Sciences & Math Education Consultants and Dr. Jeffrey Bennett, Author - This project aims to bring space station science to communities through the simple beauty of reading a book to a child. Crewmembers on the International Space Station host Story Time From Space by producing videotaped readings from a children's book, which are later broadcast on Earth. The astronauts also complete simple demonstrations that accompany the science, technology, engineering and math concepts in the books. The videos are edited and posted to an online library, with related educational materials, for use by educators and parents". 

Keith's note: I am the first one to say that using the ISS for educational purposes is important. While some of the other things listed are interesting, lumping this this bedtime story thing into the "major payload" category makes me wonder whether CASIS is truly up to the fullest utilization of the ISS for the maximum benefit of the U.S. taxpayer.

Astronaut Leland Melvin to Leave NASA

"I am sorry to inform the NASA family that my good friend and our Associate Administrator for Education, Leland Melvin, has decided to retire next month after more than 24 years of NASA service. Since assuming the role of AA in 2010, Leland has streamlined NASA's education organization and portfolio to deliver science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) content more effectively to educators and students. Using NASA's unique missions, programs and other agency assets, he has helped cultivate the next generation of explorers - one that is truly inclusive and properly reflects the diverse make up and talent of this nation's youth and our agency's future. - Charlie B"

Beyonce Slammed for Sampling Shuttle Tragedy on New Album, ABC

"Retired NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson told ABC News, "For the words to be used in the video is simply insensitive, at the very least." Anderson knows NASA tragedy firsthand. In 2003, he was assisting shuttle Columbia family members the moment news came that all seven had died when the craft disintegrated re-entering Earth's atmosphere. But Anderson, who flew twice on the space shuttle and lived on the International Space Station for five months, seemed to give Beyonce and her team the benefit of the doubt. "What we do in space just isn't as important to young people today," Anderson said."

Statement by Dr. June Scobee Rodgers Regarding Beyonce Audio Clip of Challenger Accident

"We were disappointed to learn that an audio clip from the day we lost our heroic Challenger crew was used in the song 'XO'. The moment included in this song is an emotionally difficult one for the Challenger families, colleagues and friends. We have always chosen to focus not on how our loved ones were lost, but rather on how they lived and how their legacy lives on today. Their dedication to education and exploration resulted in the creation of Challenger Center for Space Science Education and because of this we have been able to educate millions of students across America and beyond. We hope everyone remembers the crew for the inspirational legacy they left in the hearts of so many."

Keith's update: NASA Public Affairs issued the following statement in response to audio from the Challenger shuttle tragedy being used in the song 'XO' by Beyonce:

"The Challenger accident is an important part of our history; a tragic reminder that space exploration is risky and should never be trivialized. NASA works everyday to honor the legacy of our fallen astronauts as we carry out our mission to reach for new heights and explore the universe."

Keith's original note: Recording artist Beyoncé's new song 'XO' begins with a sampled audio clip of NASA's Steve Nesbitt during the first moments of the last flight flight Space Shuttle Challenger. The clip contains Nesbitt saying "Flight controllers here looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously a major malfunction." These words were uttered as the crew and their disintegrating vehicle were still falling into the sea.

These words are forever etched into the psyche of everyone who was watching that day and still echo across the years for the generation that followed.

The song that follows these words about Challenger is certainly catchy - but it has nothing whatsoever to do with Challenger and the sacrifice that their crew made that morning in January 1986. Instead, the song has to do with the trivial life event of a girl breaking up with her boyfriend. The music video shows them playing at an amusement park. Having this audio included in such a song serves to mock the severity of the events and loss that these final words represent.

This choice of historic and solemn audio is inappropriate in the extreme. The choice is little different than taking Walter Chronkite's words to viewers announcing the death of President Kennedy or 911 calls from the World Trade Center attack and using them for shock value in a pop tune.

If this was done with full knowledge of the origin of these words then this is simply repugnant. If this was done without due diligence as to the source of the words being sampled, then this is ignorance. Either way Beyoncé owes the families of the crew of Challenger an apology.

I know the families of the Challenger crew very well. If you ask they will tell you with quiet dignity and purpose that they chose to focus not on how their loved ones died but rather upon how they lived - and how their legacy continues through the educational organization, Challenger Center, that they formed in their memory.

Beyoncé was a little girl living in Houston in 1986 when her astronaut neighbors (including a school teacher) died on their way to work in outer space. She needs to apologize for using this audio clip and remove it from the song. Its absence won't affect the song at all.

Beyoncé could do something more to make things right - by doing what she does so well: create a song that speaks to the sacrifices (big and small) that explorers and teachers make every day as they seek to enrich us all.

Sally Ride's life partner Tam O'Shaughnessy accepting the Medal of Freedom on her behalf from President Obama

Keith's note: Toward the end of this morning's Maven press briefing, a reporter from the Travel Channel asked if NASA has any plan for marketing itself to the public so as to enhance visibility, increase funding, and that reaching out to the public is NASA's biggest challenge and greatest opportunity. NASA SMD AA John Grunsfeld (@SciAstro) replied that NASA does not have such a plan but instead that the agency puts spectacular missions into operate and educates the public about them.

Well, "education" is not the same as "marketing". NASA is holding a "NASASocial" in connection with the Maven launch. Alas, except for one NASA Social participant who asked a rather good question, virtually none of the NASASocial participants on-site at KSC (or their alumni elsewhere) bothered to tweet about the press event. Yet when NASA pays attention to the NASASocial people they brag about getting better access to things than the media, the swag NASA gives them, and chatter about what is said in their sessions. NASA keeps doing these socials - so they deserve credit for that - but I am not certain what they accomplish when all is said and done. Being a "Trending Topic" on Twitter only lasts while people are actually Tweeting and it only has an effect while people are awake or able to read Tweets.

I have to agree with the Travel Channel guy's query. Does NASA have a marketing plan? I see no evidence that they do. Yes, there is some scary language in some congressional legislation that prohibits NASA from lobbying but there is also equally compelling and binding congressional language that prompts NASA to better communicate with the public. I have the clear impression that NASA finds it vastly easier to say "no" than to try and push the envelope. There are a lot of people at NASA who try but there seem to be even more who thwart them or simply sit on their hands.

NASA's Confused Policy on Advertising, earlier post

Keith's 25 October update: Erika Vick and NASA PAO have declined to respond to a series of questions regarding this Twitter account. Perhaps that explains why @ExperienceNASA has been taken offline.

Keith's note: Apparently the operation of the @ExperienceNASA Twitter account is part of Erika Vick's official duties at NASA. It is not clear what NASA program(s) this activity supports or what the guidelines are for what is proper content for this Twitter feed. Despite repeated requests no one at NASA HQ including NASA PAO and Erika Vick at the NASA Advisory Council can give me a straight answer. @ExperienceNASA was silent during the shutdown - as were all other official NASA Twitter accounts. Its description says "Welcome to your one-stop shop for opportunities to participate in/contribute to NASA goals/missions! Need help? Ask me! Washington, DC · nasa.gov"

Another Official NASA Twitter Account That Isn't, earlier post

Keith's note: Neil Tyson will be talking about "Delusions of Space Enthusiasts" on Wednesday from 9:00 - 10:00 am EDT at the National Academy of Sciences' Human Spaceflight panel. WebEx Access Call-in toll-free number: 1-(866) 668-0721 Conference Code: 448 560 9647. If none of these things work check here.

NAS will only allow 150 people to watch on WebEx. What is baffling is why the NAS can't simply do a Google Hangout. All you need is a laptop and the potential reach of their "public" events would be vastly enhanced. And it is free too. Of course, the NAS goes out of its way not to tell anyone about this "public" presentation. Only wonks and media can usually figure out what's going on in these meetings.

Keith's update: If you did not tune in to Tyson's presentation you did not miss much. He referred to slides a lot - but the NAS did not show his slides. Nor did the NAS capture the presentation for posting on YouTube. Based on his somewhat rambling presentation this morning, it is clear Tyson is not a big fan of commercial space. He thinks that only governments can lead the way in space and that commerce can only follow. He said that due to risk and expense one cannot valuate space from a commercial perspective. He also more or less dismissed the notion out of hand that America has ever really done anything in space for scientific, exploratory, or inspirational purposes and thinks that everything done in space can be traced back to war funding. He also dismissed the notion that investing in NASA has significant economic payback.

NAS Space Studies Board Quietly Announces Online Public Access After Event Starts, earlier post

Space Forensics Website, NASA GSFC

"This announcement constitutes the only solicitation, which is issued as a Request for Quotation (RFQ); quotes are being requested and a written solicitation will not be issued ... Questions regarding this acquisition must be submitted in writing via e-mail ino later than September 26, 2013]."

Keith's 23 Sep note: NASA GSFC posts this solicitation on 20 September late in the day - the day before a weekend. That leaves 23, 24, 25, 26 September for any software firm that did not have a healthy heads from NASA up to create input for a credible proposal or quote - from scratch. In reality, this is clearly a sole source procurement masquerading as an open solicitation. Too bad GSFC can't be honest enough to admit that. As for the intent of the solicitation - sounds interesting. Too bad NASA GSFC is not willing or able to allow sufficient time for the best possible input to be developed from a wide range of potential bidders. At the speed they are doing this GSFC might be able to pick a vendor before the end of the fiscal year. I'll be that a simple FOIA request would reveal that they already know who they want to award this contract to.

Keith's 24 Sep update: NASA has posted an Amendment to the solicitation: "The due date for responses has been extended to October 9, 2013. Questions will be due no later than October 7, 2013." What a coincidence.

Keith's note: Have a look at the Twitter account @ExperienceNASA. It describes itself as "Welcome to your one-stop shop for opportunities to participate in/contribute to NASA goals/missions! Need help? Ask me! Washington, DC nasa.gov". This site is openly operated by NASA civil servant Erika Vick from her desk during the work day as part of her job as executive secretary of the NASA Advisory Council Education and Public Outreach Subcommittee. NASA has confirmed this to me more than once.

Yet when you ask Erika whether this site expresses her opinions or official NASA opinions, she tweeted "@ExperienceNASA isn't official" and also tweeted "@ExperienceNASA points to http://nasa.gov  ...any account can do that...had hopes it would be but alas". Yet Erika's personnal Twitter account says "@ExperienceNASA by day". Erika can't have it both ways. If she is going to sit at her desk and use a Twitter account to overtly do her day job and configure the Twitter page so as to give a clear impression that NASA is behind it then she needs to operate it in a fashion commensurate with official NASA social media accounts. Otherwise she needs to make sure it is clear that this is a personal effort she does during coffee breaks. She can't have it both ways.

Is it good to try and enhance NASA EPO? Yes. Is it bad to mislead people in so doing? Yes. Once again it is clear that NASA has no standard policy for use of social media.

Keith's note: NASA has lots of Twitter accounts and websites - more than any other Federal agency - by far. But as NASA PAO AA David Weaver recently said at a NASA Advisory Council EPO Subcommittee (and I paraphrase) "clearly quantity does not always equal quality". Virtually every NASA project, program, center - and mission - has at least one (sometimes more) Twitter account and website. In the case of Mars Science Laboratory NASA pays to maintain 3 (or 4 depending on how you count) websites for MSL - and they do not seem to think this is wasteful.

But what about the New Horizons mission to Pluto?

NASA to Debut Water Falls Movie this Fall [Watch Trailer], SpaceRef

"This fall coming to select theatres, is a movie about water, one that NASA thinks will change how you view our watery world. Water Falls, A Science on a Sphere Film is a different type of movie.

According to NASA, the movie is designed for playback specifically on spherical screens and "the project immediately demanded an abstract, poetic presentation of its subject."

Marc's note: Goddard has set up an excellent web site to complement the movie with educational resources for teachers.

Extracting Public and Stakeholder Opinions: Unusual Suspects Need Not Apply, ECAST

"Public opinion in this country is everything," stated President Abraham Lincoln in 1859. Fast-forward 154 years to the age of trending Twitter topics and 24-hour cable news. Public opinion seems to have a significant effect on social issues and in some cases, like the recent DOMA Act repeal, triggers changes in policy. However, its influence over science and technology policy is far less, where stakeholder opinion reins supreme. The general public is largely excluded, on the grounds that they are uninformed and therefore their opinions are not particularly useful for policymaking.
This de facto policy of exclusion was recently demonstrated at the National Research Council Committee On Human Spaceflight's meetings. The meetings on public and stakeholder opinions were closed to the public, with the exception of the first 30-minute, early morning session."

Yet Another Slow Motion Advisory Committee on Human Space Flight

"... the committee's advice will be out of synch with reality and somewhat overtaken by events having taken a total of 3 years, 7 months to complete. Oh yes: the cost of this study? $3.6 million. The soonest that a NASA budget could be crafted that took this committee's advice into account would be the FY 2016 budget request. NASA and OMB will interact on the FY 2016 budget during Fall 2014 and it won't be announced until early 2015 - 4 1/2 years after this committee and its advice was requested in the NASA Authorization Act 2010."

Keith's note: This committee had a meeting in the vacation community of Woods Hole, MA from 24-26 July 2013. No agenda was posted - and apparently none will be posted. The entire meeting - one that dicussed public input - was closed. Indeed this web page says "No outside materials were distributed to the committee.", Go figure.

Keith's note: Care to guess where this donation box is? Note the diversity of currencies. This diversity is quite normal for this location. Click on image to enlarge.

Trailer for Cosmos the TV Series [Watch], SpaceRef

"At Comic-Con in San Diego this past weekend Neil deGrasse Tyson introduced the first trailer for the Cosmos, a 13 part miniseries he'll be hosting on Fox next year made in conjunction with National Geographic.

The series is a remake of the immensely popular 1980's series when Carl Sagan was host and which aired on PBS in September 1980 through December that year."

Marc's note: A reader points out that the official trailer from Fox is out where you can hear Sagan and Tyson talking. I've updated the video link.

Goddard Helps Set 2 Guinness World Records, NASA

"Then on March 10, 2013, 526 space enthusiasts gathered to set the record for "Largest Astronomy Lesson" in Austin, Texas, at the South by Southwest festival. Looking up through hundreds of colored filters and spectral glasses, participants were instructed on the lawn of the Long Center for the Performing Arts."

Mars'c note: For anyone who might be interested the previous record was 458: "The largest astronomy lesson involved 458 participants (all Mexico) at an event organised by Juarez Competitiva, at the Samalayuca Desert in Chihuahua, Mexico, on 14 October 2011."

ARKYD: A Space Telescope for Everyone, Planetary Resources

Marc's note: After appearing to stall late last week, the Planetary Resources Kickstarter campaign to raise $1 million for the E/PO ARKYD telescope has achieved its initial goal and was pushed over the top overnight.

Now with 10 days left they will try and reach their stretch goal of $2 million which they'll "invest the additional funds to enhance the ARKYD space telescope technology to enable it to search for alien planets!"

Planetary Resources Needs YOUR Help to Hunt for Alien Planets, Planetary Resources

"Alien planets are out there and Planetary Resources needs your help to find them! That's right, the same high-powered telescope technology being used by Planetary Resources to identify near-Earth asteroids can also be used to hunt for what scientists call extrasolar planets or "exoplanets" - which are very much alien worlds. For the first-time ever, this capability will be placed directly into the hands of students, researchers and citizen scientists."

Marc's note: For the last few days the Planetary Resources Kickstarter campaign appears to have stalled.With 19 days to go they're $145K short of their goal. And with Kickstarter, it's all or nothing. You reach your goal, you get the funds, you don't, you get nothing. Now to encourage that next wave of donors Planetary Resources has sent out an email blast saying if we make it to $2 million we'll "enhance" ARKYD to hunt for Exoplanets.

With Kepler costing approximately around $600 million for its lifecyle, the ARKYD is quite a deal though they are clear to say they won't rival Kepler. They plan on adding "exoplanet transit detection capability by enhancing the telescope's stability systems and dedicating time to monitor candidate star systems." Among the many questions is how good a detector could ARKYD be. Also, how does hunting for Exoplanets fit into the companies mission statement? Sure it's E/PO, but is it just a gimmick to get over the initial E/PO funding goal?

CORE is Closing, NASA

Marc's note: A NASA Watch reader sent this in:

"The NASA-sponsored Central Operation of Resources for Educators (CORE) is closing. CORE has been operated through a cooperative agreement with Lorain County Joint Vocational School in Oberlin, Ohio. The cooperative agreement, which provides funding for CORE, ends on June 30, 2013. Final orders through CORE should be submitted no later than June 9, 2013."

"June 10, 2013 - The CORE website will be taken off-line and replaced with an explanatory redirection page sending visitors to the "Find Teaching Materials" Web page (http://www.nasa.gov/education/materials) from which educators can search for electronic versions of NASA educational materials, including video clips and links to other content-rich NASA websites. We also plan to direct educators to the NASA Field Center Educator Resource Centers (ERCs) to inquire on the availability of educational materials. This explanatory redirection link will only remain active through Sept. 30, 2013. Beginning October 1, visitors will be immediately redirected to the "Find Teaching Materials" Web page.

We recommend that you remove any links to CORE (http://core.nasa.gov) from websites for which you have responsibility."

ASP Statement Regarding the Obama Administration's GFY14 Budget Proposal Relating to NASA SMD EPO Funding, The Astronomical Society of the Pacific

"The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), speaking from the perspective of 124 years of advancing science and science education, expresses its profound concern over the Obama Administration's fiscal year 2014 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education restructuring proposal. This proposal will drastically reduce NASA's education and public outreach (EPO) effort, including the abrupt termination of all mission-based EPO efforts in NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD). We believe that this action, in NASA and similarly in other science agencies, will significantly damage STEM education efforts--just the opposite of what the Administration intends."


NASA Education Express
, NASA

"Guidance for Education and Public Outreach Activities Under Sequestration

NASA has taken the first steps in addressing the mandatory spending cuts called for in the Budget Control Act of 2011. The law mandates a series of indiscriminate and significant across-the-board spending reductions totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years.

As a result, NASA has been forced to implement a number of new cost-saving measures, policies, and reviews in order to minimize impacts to the mission-critical activities of the Agency. Guidance regarding conferences, travel, and training that reflect the new fiscal reality in which the agency must operate has been provided.

For specific guidance as it relates to public outreach and engagement activities please reference the following webpage.

http://www.nasa.gov/offices/education/about/sequestration-NASA-education-guidance.html

Check out the following NASA opportunities for the education community. Full descriptions are listed below..."

Marc's note: Yup, education gutted, but here's a list of what's left for you.

Google+ Hangout: We the Geeks: Asteroids

"This Friday, an asteroid nearly three kilometers wide is going to pass by the Earth-Moon system. The fly-by is harmless -- at its closest, the asteroid will be about 15 times farther from us than the Earth is from the moon -- but to mark the event, the White House will host the second in a series of "We the Geeks" Google+ Hangouts to talk asteroids with Bill Nye the Science Guy, former Astronaut Ed Lu, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, and more."

Keith's 8:00 am EDT note: You would think that NASA, the geekiest of all government agencies, would be really happy about this visibility at a White House sponsored event - one that features its Deputy Administrator, a former astronaut, and a member of the NASA Advisory Council's Education and Public Outreach Committee. Moreover, this education-focused event focuses on the asteroid mission that the White House has tasked NASA to undertake. Despite all the reasons for NASA to want to crow about this event there is no mention on the NASA Education page, on the NASA calendar, on NASA.gov or on the agency's social media page NASA Connect although it is mentioned on NASA's Google+ page.

Keith's 150 pm EDT update: NASA issued this press release a few minutes ago. Still no mention on NASA's calendar, NASA Education page, NASA.gov, etc.

American Astronomical Society Statement: Proposed Elimination of NASA Science Education & Public Outreach

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has issued a statement addressing the potential elimination of the education and public outreach (EPO) activities in NASA's Science Mission Directorate, as called for in President Obama's fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget proposal. The AAS enthusiastically supports the Administration's goals to increase the impact of federal education investments and to increase the numbers of teachers and graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM. But, according to the AAS, the proposed cuts "would dismantle some of the nation's most inspiring and successful STEM education assets."

- NASA EPO Cuts Continue, earlier post
- NAC Committee Is Against NASA EPO Changes, earlier post
- Bolden Is Happy About NASA Education Cuts, earlier post
- Details on The Gutting of NASA Education, earlier post

Sally Ride National Tribute at Kennedy Center Tonight

"NASA and Sally Ride Science are inviting journalists to tonight's "Sally Ride: A Lifetime of Accomplishment, A Champion of Science Literacy," a national tribute to America's first woman in space. The special event will be held at the Concert Hall of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts."

President Obama Announces Sally Ride as a Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

"Today, President Barack Obama announced he will award a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to Dr. Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut to travel to space. The Medal of Freedom is the Nation's highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

NASA and The White House Pay Tribute to Sally Ride

"The president announced Monday afternoon Ride will be posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a ceremony at the White House later this year. The Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

Homer Hickam Supports High School Student Whose Science Project Got Her Expelled and Arrested

"Homer Hickam, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal in the movie October Sky, has joined the ranks of scientists and engineers around the globe in support of Kiera Wilmot - the 16-year-old Florida student who found herself in hot water after her science experiment went awry. Wilmot, who has an outstanding school record and whose mother works in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field, was expelled from school permanently and arrested by police after her science experiment caused a small explosion. Although not authorized by her teacher, no one was hurt in the incident and no damage was caused. Kiera was also charged with possession and discharge of a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device: both felonies."

Please support the Kayla Wilmot Space Academy Scholarship

Student Kiera Wilmot's arrest over science experiment explosion sparks outrage on Twitter, other social media, Orlando Sentinel

"The website Southern Fried Science took a turn away from discussions on conservation and endangered species to weigh in on Kiera's case, asking scientists how many "accidentally blew something up in high school doing science?" Many responded by describing their adolescent capers."

State Attorney Jerry Hill: Drop charges against Kiera Wilmot, Change.org

List of multiple petitions online at Change.org

Keith's note: If this over reactive mindset was in place in the early 1980s, then a dozen or so of the Chemistry students I taught while in grad school would have been felons - every semester.

Kiera Wilmot, student who caused small explosion, won't face charges, Orlando Sentinel

"Brian Haas, an assistant state attorney and spokesman for the office, said he could not provide details of the diversion-program agreement reached in a juvenile's case. But he said the teenager and her guardian had signed the agreement. "The pending case has been dismissed. No formal charges will be filed," read the office's statement."

Keith's note: Canada's Chris Hadfield's use of social media and other aspects of education and public outreach while on orbit has been masterful - even transcendent - and sets a new bar for others to strive for on future missions. Oh wait: NASA is eliminating Education and Public Outreach. Nevermind. NASA no longer cares about these things.

And Charlie Bolden agrees with this change in focus and wants to abandon half a century of public engagement. Utterly pathetic. Not what a true leader should do.

There will be no other NASA Watch updates today. Just this.

Watch it.

ROSES-13 Amendment 13: Education and Public Outreach removed from Appendix A.34, New (Early Career) Investigator Program in Earth Science

"The New Investigator Program (NIP) in Earth Science is designed to support outstanding scientific research and career development of scientists and engineers at the early stage of their professional careers. ... NIP will not accept Education and Public Outreach Plans in 2013."

- NAC Committee Is Against NASA EPO Changes, earlier post
- Bolden Is Happy About NASA Education Cuts, earlier post
- Details on The Gutting of NASA Education, earlier post

NASA Advisory Council Astrophysics Subcommittee Letter 1 May 2013

Issue: Removal of EPO Functions from SMD: "Finding: The result of this long-term dedication to education and public outreach is an extremely efficient process where scientists and educators routinely collaborate on developing high-impact content for education and public engagement. In contrast, the proposed realignment shifts all education and outreach efforts far from the actual science being communicated. The end result may appear to improve the process by removal of functional redundancies, but actually separates the content providers at NASA from the agencies tasked with providing EPO programs. This will likely necessitate new layers of personnel to interface between NASA scientists and educational professionals in the Department of Education, NSF, and the Smithsonian. Furthermore, the new implementation effectively counteracts the astrophysics community's long-standing dedication to outreach and education, by clearly making these activities "somebody else's job."

Mars Revealed: Evolving Technology, Advancing Science

"The application period for the Mars Revealed teacher training is currently on hold pending NASA Headquarter reviews of NASA education programs. Please check back frequently. Updates will be posted as they become available."

- Another Meeting Cancelled Due to Sequestration, earlier post
- More Meetings Cancelled Due to Sequestration, earlier post
- Details on The Gutting of NASA Education, earlier post

Keith's note: You might want to listen to this audio file from today's STA luncheon where Charlie Bolden answers a question about huge cuts to NASA education. Bolden doesn't seem to have any problems with the huge cuts that are being made in NASA's education and public outrach budgets in the proposed FY2014 budget. Indeed, he seems to think this is just wonderful. So, all of you NASA educators, you might as well give up and find other areas to channel your energies. Charlie Bolden thinks that you need less money.

Details on The Gutting of NASA Education, earlier post

Keith's note: NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Communications - Public Outreach Alan Ladwig will be retiring from NASA on 31 May 2013.

Keith'snote:The following statement was read by NASA Advisory Council member Lars Perkins, as an individual, at today's NAC meeting. Perkins' term is expiring and new nominees/renominations have not been announced - yet.

"The administration's proposed FY '14 budget contains drastic and unprecedented cuts to NASA's education funding. NASA has been uniquely effective in engaging the public in science and exploration, and to cut these important programs at a time when the nation is facing an unprecedented crisis in in its ability to satisfy the nation's need for engineers and scientists. The entire NASA budget, at approximately $17 billion, constitutes only $.005 per tax dollar, and the education budget prior to the proposed cuts represents only about 1% of that, or one two-hundredth of a penny per tax dollar. To cut these programs now is short-sighted and counterproductive.

Why has NASA been able to so compellingly engage the public's imagination? We are part of a species that looks the sky and wonders, "where did we come from?", "Where are we going?", "what's out there?" A species that - so far - we know only to exist on our blue marble. And we are part of a country that cares enough to ask questions, the answers to which have unknown value. And still we ask, and because we do, because the country, NASA does, everyone who toils day-to-day, driving a cab, flipping a burger, teaching a child, are all explorers. All part of a community, a society, a country that dares to ask questions in the same spirit that a child asks "why is the sky blue?"

President Obama to Host White House Science Fair

"Today, President Obama will host the White House Science Fair and celebrate the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions from across the country. The President will also announce new steps as part of his Educate to Innovate campaign, an all-hands-on-deck effort to get more girls and boys inspired to excel in these key subjects."

Proposed STEM Education Reorganization Contained in the President's FY14 Budget Request, Association of American Universities

"In follow-up to the discussion today at the Energy Sciences Coalition meeting, below is information provided by OSTP on the nature of the reorganization including a listing of the specific STEM education programs that will be eliminated/consolidated across federal agencies, as well as the new STEM education programs that the budget proposes."

International Space Apps Challenge, NASA

"The International Space Apps Challenge is an international mass collaboration focused on space exploration that takes place over 48-hours in 80 cities around the world (in 42 countries) on the weekend of April 20-21, 2013. The event embraces collaborative problem solving with a goal of producing relevant open-source solutions to address global needs applicable to both life on Earth and life in space. NASA is leading this global collaboration along with more then 150 partner organizations."

Join The Movement: International Space Apps Challenge, ESA

"In April, you are invited to join thousands of enthusiasts to invent and create applications to help space exploration and improve life on Earth at the International Space Apps Challenge. During this app-jam, participants are challenged to use freely available data and rework them for new purposes or present them in new ways."

Three winners selected in "Why Space Matters to the Future" national video contest

"The Coalition for Space Exploration (Coalition) and the NASA Visitor Center Consortium are pleased to announce the winners of the "Why Space Matters to the Future" video contest: Addie Augsburger, Clyzzel Samson, and Elizabeth Paddock. The winning entries were selected for both their creative demonstrations of the importance of space exploration and their unique visions for the future if the boundaries of space continue to expand."

Proposed STEM Education Reorganization Contained in the President's FY14 Budget Request, Association of American Universities

"In follow-up to the discussion today at the Energy Sciences Coalition meeting, below is information provided by OSTP on the nature of the reorganization including a listing of the specific STEM education programs that will be eliminated/consolidated across federal agencies, as well as the new STEM education programs that the budget proposes."

Keith's note: This is how the Twitter account @Camilla_SDO describes itself: "I am Camilla SDO, NASA SDO's Mission Mascot. I help with Education & Public Outreach and I train to fly to Space." This twitter account is actualy run by Romeo Durscher, a financial management analyst at Stanford. @Camilla_SDO recently tweeted "@JeriLRyan Have my 1st red carpet event this month. Had a small role in Space Warriors with Josh Lucas. So excited. I'll stick to being me!"

I simply do not understand. First NASA cuts EPO across the agency to meet sequester constraints. Now the FY 2014 budget totally guts EPO at SMD - essentially setting it to $0.00. NASA cuts important education and public outreach projects conducted by education professionals - yet the agency still officially supports and encourages a rubber chicken mascot with a NASA logo to travel to a Hollywood premiere - with a financial analyst? Apparently the rubber chicken and its handler/analyst have a special waiver.

International Space Apps Challenge, NASA

"The International Space Apps Challenge is an international mass collaboration focused on space exploration that takes place over 48-hours in 80 cities around the world (in 42 countries) on the weekend of April 20-21, 2013. The event embraces collaborative problem solving with a goal of producing relevant open-source solutions to address global needs applicable to both life on Earth and life in space. NASA is leading this global collaboration along with more then 150 partner organizations."

Join The Movement: International Space Apps Challenge, ESA

"In April, you are invited to join thousands of enthusiasts to invent and create applications to help space exploration and improve life on Earth at the International Space Apps Challenge. During this app-jam, participants are challenged to use freely available data and rework them for new purposes or present them in new ways."

- NASA's Inconsistent Support of the International Space Apps Challenge, earlier post
- NASA Space App Challenge Yields Real Results, earlier post
- NASA Stumbles Again When It Comes To Its Cool Stuff (update), earlier post

Keith's note: It has been a month since NASA Education AA Leland Melvin complained about lack of promotion for the Space Apps challenge yet there is still no mention on NASA's Education website. Its not on the NASA.gov calendar either.

Aerospace Industries Association Crowdfunding Campaign to Advertise for Space Program

"The Aerospace Industries Association is leading a first-of-its-kind crowdfund campaign to showcase to students and young people the exciting new era of U.S. space exploration."

Please Support We Are The Explorers - A Movie Trailer for Our Space Program (With Video)

"NASA recently made an inspiring new online video narrated by Mr. Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime (see above), to show the progress being made on these new systems, but the agency is barred by law from buying advertising time for such a spot. Today we're running a crowdfunding campaign to edit this video into a 30 second spot, and place it in over 50 movie theaters around the country, starting with the premier of 'Star Trek Into Darkness.'"

Keith's update: The $33,000 goal was met a few minutes ago. According to the site "Now for the next "giant leap." With still weeks to go, we can expand our reach to the whole country. Our current funding pace puts us on target to place ads in at least one theater in every state in America. If we raise our funding total to $94,000, students, young people, and the general public will see this video from coast to coast. This new goal will expand our reach from 59 movie theater screens to 750 screens! "

NASA DFRC Award: Production Music Contract

"Contract Award Amount: 15528.00
Contractor: UNIVERSAL MUSIC/KILLER TRACKS 2110 COLORADO AVENUE SUITE 110 SANTA MONICA, CA 90404
Classification Code: A -- Research and Development
NAICS Code: 512110 - Motion Picture and Video Production"

Keith's update: Looks like someone did not get the memos.

Keith's note: Last week NASA Education AA Leland Melvin sent a memo out to the Education Coordinating Committee regarding funding issues. In that memo he more or less exempted all of the activities that his directorate funds from cuts associated with sequester-related budget activities. I have asked NASA PAO for a copy of that letter and will post it if/when NASA provides me with a copy.

Keith's 11:00 am update: NASA PAO has decline to provde a copy of this letter and has said that I need to file a FOIA request in order to get it. I have filed the FOIA request. This usually takes weeks although they could expedite this. With all of these memos circulating around - with contradictory and confusing statements in them - you would think that NASA Headquarters would want to clarify things for people and just issue the memo along with an overall statement of policy regarding the topics raised in these other memos.

Keith's 11:45 am update: Here's the memo - from sources other than NASA. Letter from NASA AA for Education Leland Melvin to the Education Coordinating Council on Waivers for Education and Public Outreach Activities

Repeal the sequester's cuts on NASA's spending in public outreach and its STEM programs

"Repeal the sequester's cuts on NASA's spending in public outreach and its STEM programs The Sequester's recent cuts on NASA's spending in public outreach and its STEM programs must not be allowed. These cuts would end the many programs NASA has for educating the children of our society, as well as many other forms of public outreach held by NASA. In an internal memo issued on the evening of Friday, March 22, the Administration notes that "effective immediately, all education and public outreach activities should be suspended, pending further review. In terms of scope, this includes all public engagement and outreach events, programs, activities, and products developed and implemented by Headquarters, Mission Directorates, and Centers across the Agency, including all education and public outreach efforts conducted by programs and projects."

NASA Suspends All Education and Public Outreach (Update), Earlier post

NASA Internal Memo: Guidance for Education and Public Outreach Activities Under Sequestration

"Effective immediately, all education and public outreach activities should be suspended, pending further review. In terms of scope, this includes all public engagement and outreach events, programs, activities, and products developed and implemented by Headquarters, Mission Directorates, and Centers across the Agency, including all education and public outreach efforts conducted by programs and projects.

The scope comprises activities intended to communicate, connect with, and engage a wide and diverse set of audiences to raise awareness and involvement in NASA, its goals, missions and programs, and to develop an appreciation for, exposure to, and involvement in STEM. Audiences include employees, partners, educators, students, and members of the general public. The scope encompasses, but is not limited to:

- Programs, events, and workshops.
- Permanent and traveling exhibits, signage, and other materials.
- Speeches, presentations, and appearances, with the exception of technical presentations by researchers at scientific and technical symposia.
- Video and multimedia products in development (and renewal of existing products).
- Web and social media sites in development (excludes operational sites).
- External and internal publications, with the exception of Scientific and Technical Information as defined by NPD 2200.1B.
- Any other activity whose goal is to reach out to external and internal stakeholders and the public concerning NASA, its programs, and activities."


Keith's note: This is just insane. How much money will this actually save? NASA's response to the sequestration is to go out of its way to not communicate with the outside world? Is any other agency doing this?

Then again this might have a silver lining by forcing everything to a serious life and death review - there are some pointless money holes - all done as EPO - that NASA loves to just pour cash into. I have talked to knowledgeable folks at NASA HQ - and they say that this is not an indication that NASA does not think that EPO is important. Rather, that its time for everyone to justify the actual need for projects on a case-by-case basis.

While NASA is looking at all EPO activities they need to look at other things as well. For example, JPL runs two MSL websites that overlap/duplicate one another [1, 2] but don't cross link - and JPL has an extra copy [3] of one of these sites for good measure. Yet none of these JPL sites interact with the site at NASA HQ [4] - and yet they all cater to the same audience. What does it cost NASA to support 3(4) official websites for one mission?

Keith's update: This memo was issued inside NASA this afternoon - after the memo above.

Memo: NASA AA for Communications David Weaver to Communications Coordinating Council: EPO Activities Under Sequestration

"I am providing additional information and instructions regarding the review of public outreach activities under sequestration as outlined in the memorandum from the NASA Chief Financial Officer and Chief of Staff dated March 22, 2013."

Sequestration forces NASA to hold up educational and outreach efforts, CosmicLog/NBC

"It's important to point out that it's a suspension, not a cancellation," [NASA spokesman Bob] Jacobs wrote. "The agency's budget for the fiscal year is more that $1 billion below the original request. We are taking prudent steps to ensure the resources expended on outreach activities are done so wisely."

Letter from NASA AA for Education Leland Melvin to the Education Coordinating Council on Waivers for Education and Public Outreach Activities

Keith's note: At the NASA Advisory Council Committee on Education and Public Outreach meeting on 5 March 2103 Leland Melvin, the AA for Education at NASA, correctly lamented that people at NASA were not promoting the International Space Apps Challenge (20-21 April 2013) and urged committee members to spread the word. Well ... have a look at the NASA Education website. Two weeks later and there is still no mention is made of the International Space Apps Challenge. Nor is there any mention in the 21 March edition of NASA Education Express. There is still no mention on NASA.gov's calendar.

However, mention of the International Space Apps Challenge is now made at the NASA CIO and NASA Open Government websites.

Earlier posts on International Space Apps Challenge

International Space Apps Challenge

"The International Space Apps Challenge is a technology development event during which citizens from around the world work together to solve challenges relevant to improving life on Earth and life in space. Join us in over 75 cities around the world or at home on April 20-21, 2013."

Keith's note: At the NASA Advisory Council Committee on Education and Public Outreach meeting on Tuesday, Leland Melvin, the AA for Education at NASA, lamented why people are not promoting the International Space Apps challenge and urged committee members to spread the word. Well ... have a look at the NASA Education website. No mention is made of the International Space Apps Challenge. No mention at the NASA CIO, NASA Open Government, or NASA.gov's calendar either. Yawn.

NASA's Inconsistent Support of the International Space Apps Challenge, earlier post

"I think it is inexcusable that NASA has not made more of an effort to promote things such as the International Space Apps Challenge - especially when the White House places such a priority on things like this. There is much risk in this ad hoc and dysfunctional public engagement policy at NASA. Now that the first apps challenge event was such a success, efforts like this could continue - without overt NASA involvement - thus making NASA less - rather than more relevant. If that happens NASA only has itself to blame."

Keith's update: Here's a related event that also gets zero mention on NASA's Education website - or on NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate - the sponsor of the event itself.

Dark Side of the Jam: 'On March 8th, game developers around the planet will gather to make games about space and science. The Dark Side of the Jam is open to all, whether you're a veteran developer, hobbyist, or student. Ideally your games will not only be great achievements in coding prowess, but will help capture the public's interest in the real science and technology advancements being made in aerospace exploration. DSJ is an educational project of the Night Rover Challenge. Learn more about this $1.5 Million dollar NASA Centennial Challenge for advanced energy storage technology."

This Is How Dennis Tito Plans To Send People to Mars, SpaceRef

"If Dennis Tito has his way, two people will leave our planet in January 2018 and make a trip to Mars and back. Tito will be footing much of the bill himself. This mission won't stop at Mars, but rather, will do a quick flyby. Unlike the spate of space commerce companies that have flashed on and off the news in recent months, this effort has substantial cash behind it - at the onset. Also, unlike these previously announced efforts, this is not being done by a company that needs to eventually return a profit to its investors. Instead, it is being spearheaded by a non-profit organization, the Inspiration Mars Foundation. Tito's mission will be facilitated by donors - not investors. And no, he will not be part of the crew."

"Inspiration Mars" to pursue human mission to the Red Planet in 2018, Inspiration Mars Foundation

"Inspiration Mars will be funded primarily through private, charitable donations. The foundation will also seek out government partners that can provide unique expertise, access to infrastructure and other technical assistance as part of a public-private partnership."

NASA Statement on Inspiration Mars Mission

"It's a testament to the audacity of America's commercial aerospace industry and the adventurous spirit of America's citizen-explorers. NASA will continue discussions with Inspiration Mars to see how the agency might collaborate on mutually-beneficial activities that could complement NASA's human spaceflight, space technology and Mars exploration plans."

Video: Inspiration Mars News Conference on 27 February 2013

The Planets are Aligning for a Once-in-a-Generation Space Journey

"The Inspiration Mars Foundation, a newly formed nonprofit organization led by American space traveler and entrepreneur Dennis Tito, invites you to attend a press conference detailing its plans to take advantage of a unique window of opportunity to launch an historic journey to Mars and back in 501 days, starting in January 2018. This "Mission for America" will generate new knowledge, experience and momentum for the next great era of space exploration. It is intended to encourage all Americans to believe again, in doing the hard things that make our nation great, while inspiring youth through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and motivation."

- How a millionaire spaceflier intends to send astronauts past Mars in 2018, MSNBC

- New insights on that private (crewed?) Mars mission, NewSpace Journal

Feasibility Analysis for a Manned Mars Free-Return Mission in 2018, Dennis Tito et al, 2013 IEEE Aerospace Conference

"In 1998 Patel et al searched for Earth-Mars free-return trajectories that leave Earth, fly by Mars, and return to Earth without any deterministic maneuvers after Trans-Mars Injection. They found fast trajectory opportunities occurring two times every 15 years with a 1.4-year duration, significantly less than most Mars free return trajectories, which take up to 3.5 years. This paper investigates these fast trajectories. It also determines the launch and life support feasibility of flying such a mission using hardware expected to be available in time for an optimized fast trajectory opportunity in January, 2018. ... We used a mission duration of 500 days (d) in a SpaceX Dragon class of vehicle. Crew size is a primary driver so we compared crew sizes from one to four people, and determined that two crew is optimal given mass and volume constraints."

Keith's update: The mission outlined in this paper uses SpaceX hardware for analysis purposes. As outlined, this conceptual mission would depart Earth on 5 Jan 2018, reach Mars on 20 August 2018, and return to Earth on 21 May 2019. This paper will be presented at the 2013 IEEE Aerospace Conference on 3 March 2013 at 9:50 pm. This paper has been widely circulated for several weeks by the authors and their associates within government, legislative, industry, and advocacy communities, and has been referenced online - in great detail - for more than a week. I cannot post this paper due to IEEE copyright policies. The press event will be webcast live tomorrow at 1:00pm EST. You can sign up at the Inspiration Mars website. There is a Twitter account at @InspirationMars that will become active soon.

Keith's update: Update: this paper is now online at Inspiration Mars Foundation..

Education & Public Outreach, Lars Perkins, Chairman Education and Public Outreach Committee NASA Advisory Council 29 November 2012

Larger image

NASA Says It Cannot Advertise - and Then Buys Advertisements, (NASA Watch posting referenced in this NASA Advisory Council Chart).

Keith's 25 August 2011 note: I have lost count how many times people at NASA have told me that they cannot self-promote, advertise, lobby, or otherwise try to use standard marketing tools to inform the public of the things that they do. They always cite dire Congressional prohibitions against such activities. Then they go off and totally violate these prohibitions with advertising procurements such as this one. I am not certain that they actually know what it is they are allowed or not allowed to do and just throw this answer out when they do not want to do something.

Keith's update: This story has not changed. If you ask, NASA tells you that it cannot advertise. And then they do.

Challenger +27

Challenger Center Marks 27th Anniversary of Space Shuttle Tragedy

"On Monday January 28, Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center) will recognize the anniversary of the Challenger tragedy as it continues its work to strengthen students' interest and knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The non-profit organization was formed as a living tribute to the seven members of the crew and is dedicated to the educational spirit of their mission. Challenger Center and its network of Challenger Learning Centers will recognize the anniversary in a variety of ways, including launching rockets, writing letters about how the crew provided inspiration, and designing commemorative anniversary badges. The Challenger Center staff will visit the memorial at Arlington National Cemetery."

Lecture: Caution and Boldness: Balancing Risk in Spaceflight

"This program will commemorate and reflect on the challenges of human spaceflight, and consider possibilities for the future with the International Space Station and travel to other bodies in the solar system."

Keith Cowing's Devon Island Journal - 18 July 2007: Ancient Memorials for Modern Space Explorers (pictures and video)

"In addition to doing our webcasts, the other main task we had was the building of a memorial inukshuk to the crew of Space Shuttle Challenger. An inukshuk is stone structure built by the Inuit to mark a specific location - for a variety of reasons. Some times they are marking a navigation point. Other times, a good place for hunting. Some times it is a doorway through which a shaman would pass as part of a religious ritual. Other times, who knows - they thought the place was worth marking."

Keith's note: On a sad note, a number of us who have worked and travelled in the arctic and antarctic are familiar with Kenn Borek Twin Otter planes and their amazing crews. As such, it was very sad to learn that the specific plane that crashed last week in Antarctica was one that I and many others had flown on more than once.

NASA NSPIRES: The Next Generation Plenary: Next Destinations for Human Space Exploration

"Calling U.S. students and U.S. young professionals! If you could choose humanity's next destination in space, where would you choose? We want to hear what you think should be the next destination for humans to explore and why your destination is the best. As today's 21- to 35-year-olds, you will be the senior engineers and mission managers who will be carrying out and leading the next human missions to explore space, and we want your input. Why wait 10 years to be heard?! We invite you to share your ideas with space leaders in government, industry and academia at the International Astronautical Congress in Beijing, China, 23-27 September 2013!"

NASA's Call for Abstracts for the 64th International Astronautical Congress (IAC)

Keith's note: I think it is great that NASA seeks the input of the next generation of space explorers. But its somewhat odd that NASA is asking people what "humanity's next destination in space" should be when (depending who you listen to) the agency has already been given that destination. Is this request seeking the next destination after asteroids/Mars - or is this one instead of asteroids/Mars? Given that NASA Administrator Bolden does/does not want to go to an asteroid - or may want to bring that asteroid back to Earth - or maybe also wants to go to L2 and/or Mars, I guess yet another destination exercise won't really make things that much more confused.

Charlie Bolden's Meandering Strategic Plans, earlier post

Editorial on NASA Planetary R&A Programs, Mark V. Sykes, Planetary Science Institute

"At a minimum, this year's decline needs to be reversed to ensure that selection rates are improved to stop the imminent loss of the younger generation of planetary scientists as well as many seasoned researchers. The cost is frankly small and demands high priority. Multi-year budget planning is essential. We also face significant negative consequences from the effective collapse of the Discovery program combined with the termination of the Mars Scount program."

- NASA SMD Responds to Community Budget Priority Concerns, earlier post
- Losing a Generation of Planetary Scientists, earlier post
- Independent Look at NASA Planetary Science Budgets, earlier post

Editorial: U.S. Planetary Program Poised to Lose a Generation of Scientists, Planetary Exploration Newsletter

"National Research Council reports have long recognized these programs as fundamental to US solar system exploration efforts. The recent NRC planetary decadal survey gave them high priority, independent of the fiscal situation (the worse the fiscal climate, the more important these programs are to sustaining national capabilities in this area). Unfortunately, policy decisions by NASA leadership have resulted in selection rates for competitive proposals plummeting to historic lows with negative impact."

NASA's GRAIL Lunar Impact Site Named for Astronaut Sally Ride, NASA

"NASA has named the site where twin agency spacecraft impacted the moon Monday in honor of the late astronaut, Sally K. Ride, who was America's first woman in space and a member of the probes' mission team. Last Friday, Ebb and Flow, the two spacecraft comprising NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, were commanded to descend into a lower orbit that would result in an impact Monday on a mountain near the moon's north pole."

Keith's note: ExxonMobil TV commercial about Shiva Hafezi, a young woman (now an engineer) who was motivated as a student to strive for excellence by a chemistry teacher who had once worked at "NASA". The use of "NASA" seems to be the ultimate qualifier of - and compliment for her teacher's qualifications. The NASA brand, however inconsistently and inefficently used by NASA, still has some clear value and meaning to the public. If only NASA were truly willing and capable of using that brand identity to its fullest. Shiva Hafezi is on Facebook

Given Tablets but No Teachers, Ethiopian Children Teach Themselves, MIT

"With 100 million first-grade-aged children worldwide having no access to schooling, the One Laptop Per Child organization is trying something new in two remote Ethiopian villages--simply dropping off tablet computers with preloaded programs and seeing what happens. ... Earlier this year, OLPC workers dropped off closed boxes containing the tablets, taped shut, with no instruction. "I thought the kids would play with the boxes. Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, found the on-off switch ... powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village, and within five months, they had hacked Android," Negroponte said. "Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera, and they figured out the camera, and had hacked Android."

Ethiopian kids hack OLPCs in 5 months with zero instruction, Dvice

"What happens if you give a thousand Motorola Zoom tablet PCs to Ethiopian kids who have never even seen a printed word? Within five months, they'll start teaching themselves English while circumventing the security on your OS to customize settings and activate disabled hardware. Whoa."

Keith's note: If you read NASA Watch often enough you know I tend to focus a lot on the education and public outreach that NASA does, crowd sourcing, open source computing, etc. When I came across this story my jaw dropped. I had seen hints of this when I was in Nepal and visited the Khumjung school and when I saw Sherpa children playing with laptops in remote villages where small scale hydro systems provided only rudimentary power. I have an OLPC XO laptop so I have an idea what they have to work with. But this story from Ethiopia just stunned me. The take home lesson? Perhaps education and public outreach as practiced by NASA and other agencies and organizations needs to just drop the trendy gimmicks and focus in on the most basic enablers of learning. Imagine the cadre of coders and spacecraft designers NASA could cause to arise from all sectors of the economy and regions of America ...

Are Gen Xers Lost In Space?

How many Gen Xers know their cosmic address?

"Less than half of Generation X adults can identify our home in the universe, a spiral galaxy, according to a University of Michigan report. "Knowing your cosmic address is not a necessary job skill, but it is an important part of human knowledge about our universe and--to some extent--about ourselves," said Jon D. Miller, author of "The Generation X Report" and director of the Longitudinal Study of American Youth at the U-M Institute for Social Research."

LEGO Education and NASA

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, No it's a Satellite! Rocketing Into Space with LEGO Education and NASA!

"It's a Bird, It's a Plane, No it's a Satellite! Rocketing Into Space with LEGO Education and NASA! Crew on board the International Space Station (ISS) will share with students what satellites can be used for. Crew will also explain how these communication devices are launched and carried into space. Students will then be asked to think of other ways to use information gathered from satellites and design their own custom satellite. Topics covered include developing an awareness of outer space, exploring communication devices and understanding data collection. Check out the video with lesson plans here."

Mike Suffredini Objects to Legos in Space, earlier post

"Suff asked if the folks at HQ had considered the negative aspects of showcasing Legos in that it may seem we are not utilizing 1SS resources to their fullest capacity."

Other Lego postings

Weird Facts That You Didn't Know About E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, io9

"6) E.T. was Spielberg's response to the "stalled space program."

That's what Spielberg said in 1981, adding: "If the government won't fund the space program, to allow people's imagination to soar, then all I can do is make movies that bring space down to earth and make it more accessible to the imagination."

Keith's note: Of course, E.T. was also a hacker.

SpaceX Dragon to Carry 23 Student Experiments to Space Station

"SSEP offers a unique flight opportunity that allows students to experience both the excitement and the challenges inherent in conducting research in a microgravity environment," said Roosevelt Johnson, deputy associate administrator for education at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "It really is STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] in action, using the International Space Station -- which has America's only orbiting National Laboratory -- to host these students' science experiments."

Keith's note: No mention is made of this news at the CASIS website. Nor is any mention made at the Space Station or ISS National Laboratory websites. NASA's education website does mention this news. CASIS seems to be going out of its way to ignore the very things it is supposed to be promoting. This project involves Nanoracks which signed an agreement with CASIS to utilize the ISS. Yet CASIS continues to ignore what Nanoracks is doing on the ISS. Baffling.

Photos of Cubesat Deployment From The International Space Station

NASA'S Techedsat Launches From International Space Station

"NASA engineers, student interns and amateur radio enthusiasts around the world are listening for signals from a small, cube-shaped satellite launched into orbit from the International Space Station Thursday."

Keith's update: No mention is made of this news at the CASIS, Space Station, ISS National Laboratory, or NASA education, or Chief Technologist websites.

Discovery: Replica Beagle plans expedition to further Darwin's legacy, Financial Times

"An Anglo-Chilean project aims to further the legacy of the great naturalist by building a replica of the wooden Beagle and retracing the voyage it made to circumnavigate the globe, accompanied around Chile's 4,000 mile coast, and those of other parts of Latin America, by a modern, steel-hulled research vessel tentatively named The Adventure, after the Beagle's own sister ship. The aim, the organisers say, is to ignite minds and bring "the adventure of science to life", with participation from schoolchildren in hands-on projects along the ship's route, as well as groundbreaking research by scientists. A collaboration with Nasa, the US space agency, also aims to bring some modernity to this voyage of exploration and discovery."

Video: A Toy Train in Space

"On Aug 24th 2012 we sent my son's favorite train "Stanley" to space in a weather balloon with a HD camera and an old cell phone for GPS. He was recovered 27 miles away in a corn field and we got some great footage of the trip. This video documents the journey from liftoff to landing."

Keith's note: This gives me yet another excuse to link to my all-time favorite space video "Reach" - which resulted from a NASA competition. True to form, NASA promptly forgot about this video as soon as it was made.

Future Neil Armstrongs

Neil Armstrong's lasting legacy, Dan Goldin, Washington Post

"This summer I witnessed the landing of Curiosity on Mars from mission control at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. After the "seven minutes of terror" and Curiosity's successful arrival, I knew that NASA still has the right stuff. NASA is filled with future Neil Armstrongs -- outstanding rocket engineers, scientists and dreamers. I can think of no greater testimony to the entire Apollo team than to undertake another audacious activity that, although risky, will raise the American spirit and create opportunities for future generations. This next challenge will be the catalyst for the scientific and engineering breakthroughs central to the future vitality of our nation. We must reach for the stars."

AIAA Foundation to Establish the Neil A. Armstrong Scholarship Endowment Fund

"The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Foundation (AIAA Foundation), at the request of the family of Neil A. Armstrong, who was the first person to set foot on the Moon, and an AIAA Honorary Fellow, has established the Neil A. Armstrong Scholarship Endowment Fund."

NASA's Space Station Manager Did Not Like The Idea of Legos in Space

"Suff inquired about the relevance of performing the Lego experiment onboard from an ISS research priorities perspective. Ms. Robinson explained that Lego is Leland Melvin's top priority - for education given that Legos are something that children are very familiar with and that can reach tens of thousands of students. Suff asked if the folks at HQ had considered the negative aspects of showcasing Legos in that it may seem we are not utilizing 1SS resources to their fullest capacity. Ms. Robinson explained that she was not aware that people had considered that perspective and would pass this on."

Keith's note: The United States has spent somewhere between $60 to 100 billion on the International Space Station - and the agency's program manager doesn't think that a simple education project - one that uses something simple (Legos) that millions of "future explorers" use every day - is relevant? I do not hear Mike Suffredini objecting to all of the other stuff (baseball caps, college t-shirts, cartoon characters) that make their way onto the ISS. So why pick on something simple that (potentially) allows children to have a personal connection with this incredible on-orbit research facility? This is simply baffling.

NASA Rolls Out New App to Increase Space Based Knowledge

"What: NASA plans to launch its new Space 365 App this Friday at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Space 365 offers quick access to NASA events and quirky trivia facts that happened each day of the year. More than 4,000 NASA events are contained in the database. If you want to follow the latest on the Mars Curiosity Rover, check out a special date in history, or simply love trivia, you'll want to discover more about NASA's newest app. For the rollout event, we'll have a big screen and a demonstration area for you to check out this cutting-edge app, developed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville."

Keith's note: Is this an official NASA application? The reason I ask is that there is no NASA logo anywhere - not on the app page, in the iTunes store, or within the app itself. The only contact you are offered is someone named "Dr. Steve". The only way I'd know his last name is this press release. There is no obvious way in this app to reach NASA.gov. Why is NASA putting an official application out without any discernible NASA branding? When I type in "Mars Curiosity" the most recent event I get is an event on 26 Nov 2011 - yet the default home page has a picture of John Grunsfeld on the Colbert Report last night. NASA has been sending out multiple releases about Curiosity - why doesn't this app know about them? Indeed, what is the point of this app again?

According to the iTunes page for this app the languages supported are "English, German, Northern Sami, Spanish". For a U.S. audience, English and Spanish make sense. German - not so much. But Northern Sami? This language is only spoken in the northern portions of Norway, Sweden and Finland. One would think you'd try for French, Chinese or Russian before you thought about Northern Sami.

Keith's note: A note titled "NASA Reccomends Discontinuation of Student Rocket Activity" went out to NASA's education mailing lists this afternoon with some urgency. No other detail has been provided by NASA.

"Recently, an air pressurized paper rocket launcher being used by an educator failed. This launcher is described in NASA's Rockets Educator Guide, publications EG-2011-11-223-KSC, pp. 86-90 and EG-2008-05-060-KSC, pp. 86-90. NASA completed an engineering investigation into the failure and determined that the launcher, or design equivalents, should not be used. NASA has removed the launcher design from its website and its education curriculum. Individuals and organizations should immediately discontinue use of the launcher published in the referenced NASA publications. The point of contact for additional information is James Stofan, Deputy Associate Administrator for Education Integration at nasaedpartners@nasa.gov. We request that your organization assist NASA in disseminating this information as widely as possible throughout the education community."

If there is some inherent danger then this is a prudent thing to do. This is the document that NASA has taken offline. It took me 10 seconds to find it. They have managed to scrub it off of NASA's website but similar technology is easily available online via a simple Google search:

- Air Rockets, NASA
- Air Pressure Rocket Launcher
- How-To Tuesday: Compressed air rocket, Make Magazine

TEDxISU Today

TEDxISU Live webcast today from 8:30 am - 12:30 pm EDT. Agenda.

ExxonMobil: "The United States ranks 17th in the world in science. It's time to raise the bar and elevate our academic standards. Let's do what's best for our students by investing in our teachers. Find out more at exxonmobil.com/letssolvethis"

Keith's note: This video is playing as an advertisement on the CNN.com homepage right now. Look at all the other nation's flags on the Moon. This is a more subtle - yet still blunt way to send a message about the importance of education and technological preeminence to America - instead of adopting NASA Astronaut Andy Thomas' earlier clumsy and crude method wherein Chinese astronauts are shown to have trampled the American flag left on the lunar surface as they plant their own.

- NASA Astronaut Andy Thomas is Still Bashing China On The Job, earlier post
- NASA Exploration Ideas - With Added China Bashing, earlier post

Now Everyone Can Build a Satellite Like NASA: Online!

"Make your game choices carefully and you could build a satellite very similar to NASA's next-generation James Webb Space Telescope, the original inspiration for this game. ...Build It Yourself: Satellite" gives everyone a chance to be an engineer and an astronomer by learning about the different instruments that can go on different kinds of space-observing satellites, and seeing what kind of cosmic discoveries they might make. Hopefully it will inspire someone to become a real engineer or a space scientist."

Keith's note: Too bad this game is not totally realistic so as to let people play with schedule and cost. This way they'd REALLY learn how NASA satellites are built (or not built). Another useful feature would be the ability of one game to affect other user's games when costs go up to mimic the ability of Webb to suck money out of other projects. What SMD should have chosen for emulation is one of the Mars Science Rovers - THAT is good spacecraft design - one worthy of use in inspiring the next generation - not the bloated and tardy Webb.

NASA Space App Challenge: OpenROV - An Open Source Exploration Vehicle, NASA HackSpace

"This month, NASA engineer Eric Stackpole hiked to a spot in Trinity County, east of California's rough Bigfoot country. Locals whisper the cave's deep pools hold a cache of stolen gold, but Mr. Stackpole isn't here to look for treasure. He had, under his arm, what might appear to be a clunky toy blue submarine about the size of a lunchbox. The machine is the latest prototype of the OpenROV-an open-source, remotely operated vehicle that could map the cave in 3D using software from Autodesk and collect water in places too tight for a diver to go. It could change the future of ocean exploration. ... NEEMO caught the eye of NASA after winning a regional International Space Apps Challenge, where 2000 hacker participants gathered across the internet and worked collaboratively on 71 problems over a 48-hour deadline."

NASA's Inconsistent Support of the International Space Apps Challenge, Previous post

"I think it is inexcusable that NASA has not made more of an effort to promote things such as the International Space Apps Challenge - especially when the White House places such a priority on things like this. There is much risk in this ad hoc and dysfunctional public engagement policy at NASA. Now that the first apps challenge event was such a success, efforts like this could continue - without overt NASA involvement - thus making NASA less - rather than more relevant. If that happens NASA only has itself to blame."

Conrad Foundation and NanoRacks Team to Fly Student Experiments in Space using American Express Points

"Nancy Conrad, founder and chairman of the Conrad Foundation, today announced the Foundation has joined forces with NanoRacks LLC, the leading company for low-earth orbit utilization, to launch a new program called DreamUp. The program will assist students in raising money to participate in a unique educational experience - conducting experiments in the microgravity of space. DreamUp is the first program to enable students to use American Express(R) Membership Rewards(R) points to fund student experiments onboard the International Space Station (ISS)."

Keith's note: NASA's Education Office, the NASA ISS National Lab, and CASIS don't seem to think that this cool and innovative ISS education project is worth making note of.

Responding to the President's Call, a New Effort to Help More Students be Makerse, OSTP Blog

"As the President said at the launch of his Educate to Innovate campaign to improve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, "I want us all to think about new and creative ways to engage young people in science and engineering, whether it's science festivals, robotics competitions, fairs that encourage young people to create and build and invent -- to be makers of things, not just consumers of things." That's why today, we are excited to highlight a new effort that responds to the President's call to action: the Maker Education Initiative (MEI). With leadership from Dale Dougherty, a White House Champion of Change and founder of Maker Faire, MEI has founding sponsorship from Cognizant, Intel, and O'Reilly Media."

- Keith Cowing at Maker Faire: Famous NASA Hacks
- Matthew Reyes at Maker Faire: Smartphone Smallsats and Hybrid Rockets

NASA's Inconsistent Support of the International Space Apps Challenge

"Several weeks ago NASA and a number of sponsors held the International Space Apps Challenge. The intent was to enlist people from all across the world to create solutions to problems and issues associated with spaceflight. The participants were truly spread out across our planet including Antarctica with support from the crew aboard the International Space Station. ... I think it is inexcusable that NASA has not made more of an effort to promote things such as the International Space Apps Challenge - especially when the White House places such a priority on things like this. There is much risk in this ad hoc and dysfunctional public engagement policy at NASA. Now that the first apps challenge event was such a success, efforts like this could continue - without overt NASA involvement - thus making NASA less - rather than more relevant."

Space Foundation Student Art Contest Winning Artwork Bounces Off the Moon

"The Space Foundation's annual Student Art Contest winners are developing a reputation for actual space travel. Digital versions of last year's winners are all permanently in residence on the International Space Station. Two of this year's winners have traveled an additional 277,000 miles to the Moon and back."

Coalition for Space Exploration announces video contest: "Why Explore Space?"

"Today, the Coalition for Space Exploration (Coalition) launched a video contest, "Why Explore Space?" to hear from the American public about why space exploration matters to them. Participants are encouraged to share their ideas by submitting a video. The creator of the winning entry wins an iPad3. Entries must be submitted by May 19. From there, the public will vote on the best videos."

Keith's note: After being inert for a while NASA SpaceSmart.com is back and its official NASA Twitter account @SpaceSmart has suddenly become active again. Included are odd grammatically flawed tweets such as "[JOHN] I don't think NASA-inspired inventions space propulsion technology." and "[JOHN] I want a manned Mars mission should grow.". I have asked Beth Beck what the purpose of this SpaceSmart thing is before (continue below) but she simply refuses to reply to any requests to explain what she is doing on the agency's behalf. As such I doubt she will be any more forthcoming this time.

Prepared remarks of Tom Kalil at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation April 12, 2012 Washington, DC

"Another recent prize was NASA's Green Flight Challenge that called upon aviation innovators to build and demonstrate a super-fuel efficient full-scale aircraft. The cash prize purse of $1.65 million offered by NASA attracted 14 teams, which collectively invested more than $6 million. In a historic achievement, the two winning teams exceeded the performance requirements by nearly a factor of two, flying more than 200 miles on the energy equivalent of just half a gallon of gas, all while averaging 100 mph with two people on board. NASA further leveraged taxpayer dollars, by partnering with the CAFE Foundation, which invested over $1 million in rigorous evaluation and publicity - extending the impact of the prize. The high-profile demonstration of safe, low-emission technologies may spark a new electric airplane industry."

"This year, we are giving everyone the chance to attend the Innovation Summit - virtually. We'll stream live footage of the Summit's opening remarks, daily fireside chats, interactive student workshops, and opening and closing ceremonies."

Live webcast Link

Today, in a message from the International Space Station, Astronauts Don Pettit and Dan Burbank welcomed students to the Conrad Foundation Innovation Summit at NASA Ames Research Center. Burbank refered to a comment made by President Obama to participants at the Second Annual Science Fair at the White House: "Don't be bored - make something!". Video (go to 00:35)

Crater, By Homer Hickam

Book Review: "Crater" By Homer Hickam

"Crater" by Homer Hickam, is aimed at younger readers and manages to deliver quite a well-paced adventure. The book focuses on the adventures of Crater Trueblood a 16 year old blue collar kid who lives on the Moon complete with a mysterious past and a penchant for invention. He also has a knack of stumbling into one mini-adventure after another as he makes his way across the lunar surface to catch a ride on a spaceship to obtain a secret object for his boss. In a nutshell, "Crater" is sort of like Harry Potter meets Indiana Jones on the Moon - with some John Guest thrown in for good measure."

Conrad Foundation: Cast Your Vote for Prestigious Student Award

"It is the power of the people that will select the 2012 winner of the People's Choice Award which is bestowed on the student team with the most innovative new product in the Conrad Foundation's annual Spirit of Innovation Challenge (Conrad Challenge). Through March 23, the public is invited to review the profiles of the 15 finalist teams, view their product videos and cast a vote. One vote is allowed per person per challenge category.

The Epic Struggle Between Birds and Pigs Moves to Space with a NASA Science Twist

"For nearly three years, millions of gamers have used physics in the battle between birds and pigs in the video game Angry Birds. In cooperation with NASA, Finland-based Rovio Entertainment, creator of the Angry Birds franchise, announced its newest game, "Angry Birds Space," on Thursday, March 8. NASA and Rovio are working together to teach people about physics and space exploration through the internationally successful puzzle game."

Keith's note: I, for one, welcome our new angry avian overlords.

International Space Station National Laboratory Education Project (ISS NLEP)

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Office of Education, NASA Higher Education Office in cooperation with the Human Exploration Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) and the Johnson Space Center (JSC) Office of Education, invites proposals to seven (7) areas within the ISS National Lab Education Project's (ISS NLEP) portfolio."

Keith's 9 Feb note: As has been the case for months, there is no mention of CASIS in this announcement, and CASIS makes no mention of this announcement on its website. Also, there is no mention at the NASA Education website, nothing at the ISS National Lab website, or at the NASA ISS website. No one at NASA Human Spaceflight seems to care about coordinating with each other or informing the public anymore.

Keith's 25 Feb note: The ISS National Lab website now has a link to ISS NLEP, but there is still no mention of ISS NLEP at CASIS - despite the fact that this is exactly what CASIS was created to do in the first place. Nor is there any mention at the NASA Education website. Meanwhile, CASIS has this notice on its website "CASIS RFI Webinar Presentation and Q&A Session" for an event to be held in 3 days. Oddly, neither NASA or CASIS has issued a press release, media advisory, Federal Register notice, etc. How are people supposed to know about events like this if there is zero advanced notice - unless you happen to stumble upon the CASIS website? And of course, there is no mention of this event anywhere at the NASA websites listed above - places where you'd expect such activities would be prominently mentioned. CASIS also claims that it will be part of this event in California yet the NASA press release makes no mention whatsoever of CASIS.

Conrad Foundation: Best-of-the-best High School Teams advance to Finals of Global Product Challenge

"Officials with the Conrad Foundation today announced the names of 15 high school teams from across the country and the Isle of Man that will compete in the final round of the 2011-2012 Spirit of Innovation Challenge. The annual competition, presented by Lockheed Martin Corporation and PepsiCo, challenges high school student teams around the globe to combine innovation and entrepreneurship along with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to create commercially-viable products to solve global and local challenges."

Boing Boing: "Chris sez, "My name is Chris Peterson. I run web communications for MIT Admissions and have been a loyal BB reader for years. For the last several years we have been sending our admitted students their acceptance letters in cardboard tubes. First because we sent a poster, but now it's its own thing. 2012 is the anniversary of an old MIT balloon hack, so we put a letter in all of the Early Action admit tubes telling them we wanted them to hack the tubes somehow. Lots of them are great, but this one, from Erin King (MIT '16) in Georgia, is the best."

YouTube direct link

Keith's note: I sent my old NASA badge to the summit of Mt. Everest [image], so ... I totally understand.

NASA Administrator Leads Action Session of President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, NASA

President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and NASA Administrator to Hold Listening and Action Session Highlighting the Importance of Science Education, White House

"On Friday, February 3rd, the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness will hold a Listening and Action Session in Seattle, WA. The Jobs Council, in partnership with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, will discuss ways businesses and organizations like NASA can enhance educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics beyond the classroom to develop a competitive and innovative workforce."

Keith's note: White House and NASA PAO announce this less than 24 hours in advance. There will be no webcast so that we can hear what everyone says. NASA PAO will then they take a week or more to post Bolden's prepared remarks. No one will ever know what was discussed in any great detail. Another dog and pony show.Why NASA continues to hide Bolden's presence at things like this until the last minute and then beam him down isbaffling. This is an important topic. It deserves more than a last minute media advisory -- and webcasting it does not require rocket science or loads of money.

NASA Releases First Multi-Player Facebook GameNASA Releases First Multi-Player Facebook Game, NASA

"NASA has launched its first multi-player online game to test players' knowledge of the space program. Who was the first American to walk in space? Who launched the first liquid-fueled rocket? These are only a few of the questions players can answer in Space Race Blastoff."

Happy Holidays From Antarctica

"Astrobiologist Dale Andersen from the SETI Institute is currently on his way back to the U.s. via a stop over in Capetown, South Africa. Dale and his team spent a month or so at Lake Untersee in Antarctica. This photo was taken shortly before Christmas. Dale is shown holding a patch for the Challenger Center for Space Science Education."

Conrad Foundation 2011-2012 Spirit of Innovation Challenge Semi-Finalists Announced

"We are thrilled to announce the 2011-2012 Spirit of Innovation Challenge Semi-Finalists. This year, student teams exceeded our expectations in regards to innovation and creativity when applying STEM principles to their product concepts. These 80 teams will be competing to earn one of 15 spots to attend the annual Innovation Summit at NASA Ames Research Center in California from March 29-31, 2012."

Challenger Center Announces New Leadership Team

"Dr. Scott Parazynski, chairman of Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center), today announced a new leadership team for the non-profit organization with Dr. Lance Bush as President and Chief Executive Officer and Steven Kussmann as Chief Operating Officer. Dr. Bush is currently the Chief Strategic Officer and head of the Washington office of Paragon Space Development Corporation. Kussmann is currently Challenger Center's Director of Operations. Both will assume their new positions January 2, 2012."

Coalition for Space Exploration contest winner's innovative video answers the question

"The Coalition for Space Exploration (Coalition) is pleased to announce that Caleb Ekeroth is the grand prize winner of its "What's Next?" in space exploration contest. Ekeroth's video titled, "Visit Mars Today," takes viewers through a timeline of human spaceflight history into the future with an in-flight commentary of the first tourist trip to the red planet. Ekeroth's video effectively demonstrates his idea that interplanetary travel is within our reach. The entry was selected as the winner for its thought-provoking message to build upon the successful history of the space program and explore beyond low-Earth orbit."

TEDxNASAJSC Women

"Starting at 9a, Speakers from around the center will talk about inspiring students, innovation, and new scientific discoveries. Astronauts Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger and Cadie Coleman will share their perspectives about Earth and space."

Keith's note: You would think that an event like this would be something that NASA would want to share across the entire agency - indeed, with the general public as well. How hard would it be to webcast this? I am baffled as to why things like this end up as choir practice and internal pep rallies and not part of NASA's overall Education and Public Outreach (EPO) activity.

Keith's update: According to a comment from "pamspace": "We'd love for the public to tune in! We are working the final kinks out of our webstreaming process today and do plan to Livestream our event here: http://www.livestream.com/tedxnasajsc. We have a backup plan if this path doesn't work and will post an update if needed. Looking forward to a great event!"

Keith's note:There is another TEDxNASA event today - hosted by NASA Langley. This event was only publicly announced three days in advance, well after the "invitation only" attendees were selected. Taxpayers across the region were not given a chance to attend. There is no mention of this event at NASA's Office of Education webpage, at NASA.gov or the NASA.gov event calendar, the NASA.gov students page,or in the most recent issue of NASA Education Express. One would think that an expensive education-oriented event such as this would be worthy of coordination with NASA's Education Office. In the press release issued only 3 days before the event no mention is made of how media can attend, no provisions for the hearing impaired (interperter, captioning, etc) are mentioned, and it is being held at a time when most people are taking time off i.e. on a weekend. And since it is being held on a weekend, why couldn't this have been aired live on NASA TV? All that is on the schedule is re-airing of things that happened last week.

Despite having hosted several TEDxNASA events in the past, no emails were sent to previous TEDxNASA participants. The agenda is not easy to find either - NASA does not list it. I stumbled across it here on another organization's website. What has ANY of this to do with space exploration? If this is only about STEM education sans any space component, then why is NASA doing this to begin with - and not the Department of Education? Are there any attendees from Northern Virginia? Any home schooled students? Any disabled students?

To be certain, it is nice that Lesa Roe and Steve Craft are interested in education, etc. But they repeatedly avoid the common sense, PR 101 aspects of these TEDxNASA events and therefore pass on a chance to leverage these things to the advantage of the entire agency and people who do not live in Hampton, Virginia.

Photos: Robonaut-2 Gestures In Space

Keith's note: I have seen Robonaut-2 in action and its dexterity is interesting - and rather facile. So ... how could NASA demonstrate this dexterity in new ways, make it a little more "human" or approachable, - and reach a new segment of the populace that is normally overlooked? Program it to use Sign Language. Background: I worked for more than a decade as a professional certified (educational) sign language interpreter. This idea occurred to me when I was looking at this picture and instantly wondered what Robonaut-2 "wanted" or why it was seemingly in the process of saying "here" or maybe "give". Imagine how fast a video of Robonaut-2 saying something in American Sign Language from space would go viral. NASA could have a competition wherein people submit questions for it to answer. NASA already has a signing astronaut and SMD and NLSI already put out books in Braille. Just a thought.

P.S. Maybe he could repeat what that alien signed in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (video). If you watch that scene, the alien that is signing actually moves its hand like Robonaut does. I first saw this film when it came out with my hearing impaired roommates - none of us knew that aliens were going to sign so we all freaked out when one of them did. Of course, it was natural to us that all aliens would know how to sign - since they all already speak English, right?

Obama nixes federal swag, Politico

"On Wednesday, Obama signed an executive order that will direct government agencies to, among other things, "stop using taxpayer dollars to buy swag." What exactly falls under the category of "swag"? Plaques, "nonessential items used for promotional purposes" like clothing, pens and mugs, and "other unnecessary promotional items that agencies purchase," according to the White House, which did not respond to multiple requests for more details about the "swag" and its cost."

Executive Order -- Promoting Efficient Spending, White House

"Sec. 7. Extraneous Promotional Items. Agencies should limit the purchase of promotional items (e.g., plaques, clothing, and commemorative items), in particular where they are not cost-effective."

NASA solicitation: Drawstring Backpack Wooden pencils and jumbo pens

"NASA/LaRC has a requirement for Drawstring Backpack, Qty: 12,000 EA in accordance the attached requirements: Round Wooden Pencils, Qty: 10,000 EA in accordance with the attached requirements and Ink Pens, Qty: 10,000 EA in accordance with the attached requirements."

NASA solicitation: NASA educational outreach items

"NASA/LaRC has a requirement for various educational, outreach items with the NASA logo: Astronaut stress reliever, Earth squeeze ball, Drawstring backpack ..."

Keith's note: NASA buys this give-away crap in huge quantities without any notion as to whether its distribution accomplishes anything of value to the agency or to the individuals who receive it. All too often NASA staff end up throwing a lot of it away because it is cheaper than shipping it back to their office after an event. ESMD and SOMD are among the worst offenders. And now with the merger of ESMD and SOMD much of it will get pulped because the mail codes have changed. Remember all of that Constellation stuff ... I have asked HEOMD's Beth Beck more than once for her "plan" for EPO and the metrics she uses to measure its effectiveness. She has never bothered to reply. Its is obvious that there is no plan - nor are there any metrics. Nor does she seem to be at all bothered by this situation. The same is true across the agency. To make things worse - no one coordinates anything. The net result is both duplication and competition.

If NASA actually had a coherent education and public outreach activity that spanned all directorates, projects, missions, and field centers - one that adhered to a clear, cohesive strategy - and was measured and evaluated with metrics, I would suspect that the expenditure of these EPO funds would result in something of tangible value. Alas, just watch as NASA finds a way to evade the intent of this executive order and continues to spew these useless trinkets under the misimpression that they actually have value.

Crowdsourcing Science with Zooniverse and NASA at the NEEMO-15 Underwater Asteroid Mission

"Analyzing the vast amount of data that NASA brings back from its missions is an enormous task. In order to improve collaboration internally, as well as engage citizens in NASA's mission, the Open Government team is experimenting with different ways to process mission data quickly. The NASA OpenGov team has enlisted the help of established NASA partners Zooniverse and Vizzuality, who have pioneered the analysis of large datasets through crowdsourcing, using the power of elegant interfaces, to engage citizen scientists in the NEEMO mission."

"What's Next?" in space exploration - Coalition for Space Exploration announces video contest

"During this historic time of change within the space industry, the Coalition for Space Exploration (Coalition) wants to hear from the American public about what they envision for the future of space exploration. The Coalition is launching a contest based on a simple question, "What's Next?" Participants are encouraged to share their ideas for the future direction of America's space program in a video. The creator of the winning video entry wins an iPad2."

YouTube SpaceLab Lifts Off With Lenovo Aboard

Keith's note: NASA Signed a Space Act Agreement with Space Adventures - with the word "YouTube" in the title. Yet no one from YouTube (or its parent company Google) ever signed the SAA. Now, when you go the YouTube SpaceLab page you see NASA's logo along with YouTube's logo and Lenovo's logo - yet neither company is mentioned in the body of the SAA. If you click on the "Technology in Orbit link" you will see Lenovo's own page where it talks about its products in space - again with NASA's logo prominently displayed.

But wait, Lenovo has no agreement with NASA - it has one with YouTube - but YouTube has no agreement with NASA either (despite being mentioned in the SAA's title) - just with Space Adventures - unless you count the NASA/Google Space Act Agreement signed several years ago. But again, Google did not sign this SAA either. Neither Lenovo or Youtube's relationship with Space Adventures is mentioned. Given that the vast majority of the project itself focuses on YouTube and Lenovo, this is rather odd.

As I said before, this is trully an interesting way to get novel ideas onboard the ISS - and possibly to spark careers. Moreover, it is a way to show that the ISS has utility beyond the experiments proposed by a small cadre of insiders. I wish the organizers total success. But NASA sure needs to get its act together with regard to the processes they implement for these new relationships. Right now the legal instrument (SAA) that enables this activity has flaws, inconsistencies, and large omissions.

NASA, Google, and Lenovo Team Up for ISS Educational Project, earlier post

Fifth Annual Conrad Foundation Spirit of Innovation Challenge

"Today, Nancy Conrad, founder and chairman of the Conrad Foundation, officially launched the 2011-2012 Spirit of Innovation Challenge to encourage students to create technologies and products that solve global issues. For the past four years, the Innovation competition has helped transform the way science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is being embraced by high school students."

Lockheed Martin renews support for the Spirit of Innovation Challenge

"Lockheed Martin believes the competitive success of our nation depends on an innovative and technically adept workforce that understands the value of collaborating to solve 21st century challenges," said Dr. Ray O. Johnson, Lockheed Martin senior vice president and chief technology officer"

Letter from Hundreds of College Students to Neil Armstrong, President Obama, and Congress About Space Policy

"We strongly believe that NASA and the nation both benefit greatly from investing in commercial spaceflight programs that will allow astronauts to fly on commercial vehicles; and we urge you to fully fund and support those programs. They offer a win-win situation: we ensure that the nation has a way--or, better yet, several independent ways--to get its astronauts into space following the impending retirement of the Space Shuttle, while the commercial sector will benefit from the support of NASA to grow faster and to hire more of us future graduates."

"What's Next?" in space exploration - Coalition for Space Exploration announces video contest

"During this historic time of change within the space industry, the Coalition for Space Exploration (Coalition) wants to hear from the American public about what they envision for the future of space exploration. The Coalition is launching a contest based on a simple question, "What's Next?" Participants are encouraged to share their ideas for the future direction of America's space program in a video. The creator of the winning video entry wins an iPad2."

In the 21st Century, How Do You Show What You Know?, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

"... the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, HASTAC and Mozilla today announced a $2 million Digital Media and Learning Competition for leading organizations, learning and assessment specialists, designers and technologists to create and test badges and badge systems. The competition will explore ways digital badges can be used to help people learn; demonstrate their skills and knowledge; unlock job, educational and civic opportunities; and open new pipelines to talent. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and high-level business, technology, civic engagement, philanthropic and other leaders participated in the announcement at the Hirshhorn Museum this morning."

Keith's note: There was yet another stealth Bolden appearance yesterday. They just beam him in and then out of these events. NASA PAO made no advance notice, there is nothing posted on NASA.gov - or on NASA's education webpage. Nothing as to what Charlie Bolden said either. Charlie, why do even bother attending these events if you do not let anyone know you were there - or what your agency will be doing inconnection with what was being announced?

Written Testimony by Nancy Conrad, Founder and Chairman, Conrad Foundation

"The Conrad Foundation's Spirit of Innovation Awards (SOIA) presents high school student participants with a very broad challenge: create an innovative product that can be used to address a real-world problem with a real-world solution which can ultimately be viable in the commercial marketplace. The competition is free of charge to students in the United States and is also open at no cost to international students. These students are given a blank slate within several major categories that can include clean energy, aerospace exploration, and health and nutrition. But they're not just asked to complete a science project: they are required to conduct research to determine their creation's potential market impact and develop a full business plan."

- House Hearing: STEM in Action: Inspiring the Science and Engineering Workforce of Tomorrow
- Live hearing 10 am -12 pm EDT

CosmoCam is an internet interactive video camera system designed for use onboard satellites and stratospheric balloon missions. Cosmocam is being offered as a tool for both inflight monitoring of satellite structure deployment as well as the enlightenment of students and others who are outside the professional scientific community.

Live video from CosmoCam aboard a balloon in flight via NASAHackSpace

Nigerian-built Satellite Acquires First Image Just Days After Launch

"NigeriaSat-X was built by engineers from Nigeria's National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) under the supervision of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL). The new generation of Nigerian scientists and engineers trained up under the NigeriaSat-X project will continue to support Nigeria's space programme, ensuring its continued success and sustainability. In total, 26 Nigerian engineers were located at SSTL's facilities in Guildford for 18 months throughout the design and test phases."

Tor/Forge Books and NASA Jointly Announce Publishing Collaboration

"In an effort to educate and encourage math and science education Tor/Forge Books, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, and NASA have embarked on a collaboration to publish a series of science based, commercial fiction books, referred to as "NASA inspired Works of Fiction" around concepts pertinent to the current and future work of NASA. NASA will allow existing and new Tor/Forge authors to team up with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's (GSFC) Subject Matter Experts (SME) to create scientifically accurate and entertaining novels in a distinctly unique way."

"Test Out the Latest Gizmos at the NASA JPL Petting Zoo: Exhibition Hall Highlights: Bureau of Land Management and NASA Innovation Nation: August 23 - D.C. Convention Center Register now: Complimentary to government, industry rates apply. Take a break at the Innovation Nation Forum to stop by the exhibit hall and check out the Bureau of Land Management and NASA JPL booths. NASA will have its technology petting zoo on display for attendees to test out emerging information technologies. For a complete list of our sponsors and exhibitors, please visit www.meritalk.com/innovation-nation."

Keith's note: But taxpayers have to pay $150 to pet NASA's stuff - stuff they already paid for. Yet government employeees get in for free. Taxpayers pay for them too (salaries). I think NASA and the organizers of this event have this whole thing arranged backward.

Participate in a Zero-Gravity Robotics Competition--in Space!, OSTP

"What could possibly make an already super cool robotics competition even better? The zero-gravity environment of space! NASA and DARPA, in cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, TopCoder, and Aurora Flight Sciences, recently announced the Zero Robotics competition, an event open to all high schools in the United States that form a team and complete the application process. The Zero Robotics competition is a student software competition that takes the idea of a robotics competition to new heights--literally. The robots are basketball-sized satellites called SPHERES, and they look like something straight out of Star Wars. The competition is kicked off by a challenging problem conjured up by DARPA and NASA. After multiple rounds of simulation and ground competition, a final tournament will be held onboard the International Space Station! The 27 finalists will have their robotic programs run by an astronaut in the microgravity environment of space."

NASA OIG: NASA's Payments for Academic Training and Degrees

"NASA Inspector General Paul K. Martin today released an audit that found abuse in a NASA program that reimburses Agency employees for academic courses leading to undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate degrees. This Office of Inspector General (OIG) review concluded that NASA's decentralized management structure, coupled with a lack of strong internal controls, resulted in more than $1 million in questionable tuition payments to employees. Federal law prohibits NASA from funding academic degrees for civil service employees except through planned employee development programs that meet an identified training need, resolve a staffing problem, or accomplish the Agency's strategic goals. However, the OIG found that NASA routinely paid significant amounts of money to reimburse employees for academic courses taken outside its formal degree programs."

NASA Maker Camp

NASA ARC Maker Camp

Maker Camp is an effort stemming from the burgeoning NASA Forward group targeted at engaging the work force in fast, hyper-local projects that advance NASA's mission and vision. Based on the "Maker" culture, the concept is to gather interested individuals and go about creating something new. Several centers have already conducted their Maker Camps, focusing on 2 to 3 activities ranging from physical creations to process improvements.

NASA JSC Maker Camp

"Do you like to build, tinker and try new things? Do you wish some days that you could just get your hands dirty and create something? Maker Camp is an internal pilot project focused on creating a culture of experimentation by offering individuals the chance to collaborate on quick, innovative projects that are good for the center and the agency. JSC will connect remotely and work collaboratively with teams at ARC to see what we can do together in a short, focused period of time."

Working Outside the Box at Johnson Space Center open.nasa.gov

"Inside one of the high bays overlooking the former home of the WETF is a work area available to everyone at the center. The decor is simple and functional: whiteboard tables, colorful rolling chairs, mobile desks and whiteboard walls. Have an idea? Write it on the table or a wall. Share it on a screen. Need a bit of privacy? Go to the neighboring room ("the fishbowl") and work there."

NASA Notice of information collection: NASA's education and outreach activities

"NASA's education and outreach activities are funded by NASA's Office of Education, Mission Directorates, and Offices of Chief Technologist and Communications. NASA's Education Coordinating Council includes representatives from each of NASA's field Centers plus the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which deliver education and outreach. Data collection to be covered by this request are organized around three goals: (1) Contribute to the development of the Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) workforce in disciplines needed to achieve NASA's strategic goals, through a portfolio of investments; (2) attract and retain students in STEM disciplines through a progression of educational opportunities for students, teachers, and faculty; and (3) build between STEM formal and informal education providers strategic partnerships and linkages that promote STEM literacy and awareness of NASA's missions."

This photo shows Space Shuttle Atlantis punching a hole in the sky on its way to orbit. The image was taken on 8 July 2011 from a high altitude balloon flown by students and volunteers at Quest For Stars. Larger image here. Additional photos from STS-135 and earlier shuttle missions can be found here.

NASA Announcement of Partnership Opportunity for Notification Tool for International Space Station Sightings, NASA SOMD

"Currently, NASA has several ways the public can learn about ISS sighting opportunities, including NASA SkyWatch. However, NASA's websites do not disseminate this information to the public- the public must seek it out proactively instead. NASA seeks to increase public awareness of the ISS, its visibility, and mission by making ISS sighting information, including personalized notifications, readily available to the general public in an easily accessible and understandable way. To that end, NASA seeks to collaborate with a domestic entity, on an unfunded basis, to support an ISS sighting notification tool."

Keith's note: This is really a great idea. I certainly agree that this information could be more user friendly since "the public must seek [ISS sighting opportunites] out proactively instead." So, keeping that admission on NASA's part in mind, how does SOMD try to reach the public to ask for help? A NASA Procurement Notice. FAIL. How many people other than procurement wonks (and me) ever read these notices?

Why limit this to "a domestic entity" i.e. a single source? Why not engage with lots of them? Why not seek input from individual citizens as well as "domestic entities"? One would hope that someone within the agency sees that this great idea and that press releases and other means are used such that a wide variety of possible contributors to this project can be involved. And even if NASA does not select them all, it is certain that a group of people who never thought they'd have a chance to do this will now be thinking about NASA. One look at this weekend's NASA-sponsored Random Hacks of Kindness will show you what a group of motivated people out in the real world can do in a matter of hours.

If I can teach a Sherpa how to spot satellites in remote Nepalese villages such that he could then teach others, then NASA can certainly spur development of an app that also does that.

Building a Model (Rocket) Workforce, OSTP

"Earlier this month, we were honored to be invited to the Team America Rocketry Challenge held about 50 miles outside Washington, DC. There, hundreds of middle- and high-school students were participating in a model rocketry competition sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association. As two guys with aerospace in our blood, we know firsthand the excitement and adrenaline rush of launching model rockets. For many youngsters--us among them--model rocketry is a rite of passage that springboards early dreamers to become the engineers and aerospace professionals of tomorrow. They will be the ones designing, building, and operating the next-generation rockets that launch astronauts into space, probes into the farthest reaches of our solar system, and Earth-orbiting satellites that touch every facet of our daily lives."

Students Win Conrad Foundation Innovation Award And Send Nutrition Bar on Endeavour's Last Flight (Update)

"Update: Photos of several STS-134 astronauts eating a STEM bar aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour have been released."

America's Students Step Up to the Challenge, OSTP

"On the 50th anniversary of one of the most memorable "grand challenge" declarations in history--President Kennedy's call for a commitment of "landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth"--I want to congratulate America's Grand Challenge Scholars. These undergraduate engineering students have organized their research, coursework, and extracurricular activities to find solutions to some of the most important problems facing the Nation in the 21st century. The Grand Challenge Scholars Program was inspired by the National Academy of Engineering's 2008 promulgation of 14 "grand challenges"--global problems whose solutions could vastly improve people's lives, such as providing access to safe drinking water, dramatically lowering the cost of solar energy, enabling personalized learning, and developing computers capable of emulating human intelligence. President Obama also featured grand challenges in his national innovation strategy."

NASA Announces STS-134 Wakeup Song Winners; Face In Space Totals (with video)

"NASA announced the winners of its "Original Song Contest" after six weeks of public voting. The songs will awaken the STS-134 astronauts aboard space shuttle Endeavour during their ongoing mission. "Sunrise Number 1" by Jorge Otero and the band Stormy Mondays from Oviedo, Spain, earned first place. Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly, Pilot Greg H. Johnson, Mission Specialists Mike Fincke, Drew Feustel, Greg Chamitoff and Roberto Vittori of the European Space Agency will hear the song at 5:56 p.m. EDT on May 31 - the day before the crew returns to Earth. "Sunrise Number 1" received 787,725 votes, or 49.8 percent of the total ballots."

Endeavour's Final Launch Inspires Hands-on Public Engagement: High Altitude Balloon Mission

"The helium-filled balloon carrying the "Senatobia-1" payload will be launched from the vicinity of Gainesville, Florida. The expected balloon launch time is on Monday, 16 May between 7:30 to 7:45 am EDT. This will allow the balloon and its payload to be in position at an altitude of approximately 100,000 feet for Endeavour's supersonic transit of the stratosphere beginning with a planned liftoff at 8:56 am EDT. If there is a delay in the launch of Endeavour the Quest for Stars team is ready to try again - several times - on subsequent days."

Keith's note: If all goes according to plan we will have live video from the balloon as Senatobia-1 ascends to catch Endeavour. Video feeds and tracking links here. Launch site feed begins at 7:15 am EDT. This is the projected flight path.

Keith's note: On board today are photos of Baruch Blumberg and Bob Clark. Launch is now planned for 7:39 am EDT.

Keith's note: The balloon has been launched. Track its progresss live at http://twitter.com/questforstars or http://www.questforstars.com

Keith's note: The balloon burst at 95,000 ft - very close to target altitude of 100,000 ft - and the payload is now parachuting nominally toward landing.

Volunteers and Experts Around the World Collaborate to Solve Disaster and Climate Problems Through Random Hacks of Kindness

"On June 4th and 5th, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, NASA, HP and the World Bank, through their initiative Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK), will bring together thousands of people in over 18 locations around the globe to create open solutions that can save lives and alleviate suffering. Random Hacks of Kindness is a community of innovation focused on developing practical open source solutions to disaster risk management and climate change adaptation challenges."

Conrad Foundation: Student-developed 'STEM Bar' to fly aboard Endeavour on STS-134

"High school entrepreneurs Mikayla and Shannon Diesch, winners of the 2010 Conrad Foundation Spirit of Innovation Awards, will be at the launch of STS-134 as they watch Endeavour journey to the International Space Station with their newly developed STEM Bar aboard. Since winning the 2010 competition, the Diesch sisters have continued to develop the nutrition bar concept for use as a tool to inspire their peers to study science, technology engineering and math and seek careers in aerospace. Team AM Rocks including team members, Ethan Rutherford, Naomi Joseph and the Diesch sisters, created Solar Flare: the Star bar and won the 2010 Spirit of Innovation Awards. This concept was the catalyst for the development of the STEM bar, which is launching on Endeavour Monday."

Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Awards: Teens Invent One-of-a-kind Products, Address Tech Challenges

"Demonstrating they had the most unique approaches to solving real-world challenges in aerospace, clean energy and cyber security the winners of the Conrad Foundation's 2011 Innovation Summit were announced today at the conclusion of the four-day event held at NASA-Ames Research Center. The annual innovation program encourages high-school students from across the country to solve the challenges of the 21st century by creating breakthrough technologies using science, technology, engineering and math knowledge and skills. The grand prize winners taking home the coveted title of 2011 Pete Conrad Scholars sponsored by Lockheed Martin Corporation were: ..."

NASA Hosts Conrad Foundation's 2011 Spirit of Innovation Awards

"Young innovators from across America are invited to solve the challenges of the 21st century by creating breakthrough technologies at the Conrad Foundation's 2011 Innovation Summit. The Summit will be held at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., on April 28-May 1, 2011. This year's categories for team entries are: aerospace exploration, clean energy and cyber security."

Challenger Center Commemorates 25 Years of Inspiring Students through Space Science Exploration

"Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center), the nation's premier provider of science education inspiration, is marking its 25th anniversary with the launch of its "Challenger Changed My Life" program to highlight its life-transforming benefits for students. The non-profit organization was founded on April 24, 1986 in tribute to the seven fallen astronauts of the Challenger Space Shuttle and their education mission. With the ongoing support of the astronauts' families, NASA, leading scientists, business leaders, educators and the nation, Challenger Center continues its vital role in STEM (science technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. Since its creation, its nationwide network of Challenger Learning Centers has served more than 4,000,000 students with simulated space missions and powerful STEM-focused learning experiences."

Conrad Foundation Spirit of Innovation People's Choice Awards - Everyone Has a Chance to Vote

"We need your vote! The annual Spirit of Innovation Awards is kicking off a two-week People's Choice competition (http://www.conradawards.org/competition) that challenges high school students to solve real-world problems by creating commercially viable science and technology based products. 27 teams of high school students have created unique inventions in the categories of aerospace exploration, clean energy, and cyber security. From Space Sleeping Pods to Solar Wind Power Generators to Parabolic Stoves and mobile apps that signal for help during times of duress, the 2011 Spirit of Innovation Awards high school student competitors have risen to the challenge and need your vote."

Webcast: Makers in Space: Developing Experiments for the NASA Make Challenge

"We're hosting an imromptu webcast for the NASA Make Challenge next Tuesday! Dale Dougherty hosts: The NASA Make Challenge is an invitation for makers to participate in the exploration of space and give students an opportunity to build an experimental kit that can be flown on a future space flight. These experiments will be based on the CubeSat modules. To help makers think about building kits for space flight, we'll bring together some experts who have developed and used the Cubesat program. Wednesday April 19th, 11am PT/2pm ET. Watch at makezine.com/space or on UStream"

Letter from College Students regarding the Future of Human Spaceflight, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS)

"Dear President Obama and Members of Congress: This year, as we celebrate both the fiftieth anniversary of human spaceflight and the accomplishments of the retiring Space Shuttle fleet, the exploration of space remains as critical as ever. Over the past year, many groups have offered their opinions on the best way for the US government to foster space exploration. However, one critical perspective has been missing from this conversation: that of the next generation. We, the signatories of this letter -- 280 students from universities and colleges across the nation -- are writing you today to ensure that our voice is heard in this ongoing discussion.

We are the ones who will be most affected by the decisions you make today. We are undergraduate and graduate students working hard to prepare ourselves for fulfilling careers as leaders and productive members of the civil, military, and commercial aerospace industries. We are the astronauts, engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs of tomorrow."

Keith's note: This photo was taken during the STS-133 mission. Shuttle and ISS crew members pose with a printout of one of the photos taken of the Discovery's ascent into space by the Robonaut-1 balloon flown by Quest for Stars in collaboration with the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. Larger view.

- Video: Robonaut-1: Time Lapse View: Entire flight from Liftfoff to Touchdown
- Educational Balloon Provides Space Shuttle Launch Images and Video From Over 110,000 feet
- First Photos: Shuttle Discovery's Trail Into Space As Seen from Over 70,000 Feet in a Balloon

Movie recreates Gagarin's spaceflight, BBC

"A movie has been made on the space station that tries to show what Yuri Gagarin might have seen on his historic flight around the Earth in 1961. FirstOrbit is being released as a free download to celebrate the Russian cosmonaut's achievement 50 years on. No film exists showing what Gagarin saw through the viewports of his Vostok capsule; there is only an audio recording of his observations. This has now been matched to high-definition video shot from the station."

Trailer

NASA 360 is on Hulu.com

Keith's note: NASA 360 just launched on HULU. Only 4 shows up right now, but they will be uploading others soon. You can see the episodes here: http://www.hulu.com/nasa-360

Here are some stats for HULU:

~30 million users monthly
~1 billion ad streams monthly (comScore)

Yuri's Night 2011

$18,000 in Prizes Offered by Yuri's Night in "Call to Humanity" Space Exploration Ad Competition

"Yuri's Night is excited to commemorate the 50th anniversary of human spaceflight by launching two contests: the "Call to Humanity" Space Exploration Ad Competition, which calls on talented graphic designers, artists, and other creative individuals to create a powerful and inspiring print campaign that will move people to think about and support humanity's future in space, and the "International Space Sweepstakes," a free global drawing."

NASA Forward Maker Camp

"NASA Forward Maker Camp is a participant-driven Maker Camp based on "code-a-thon" or "think tank" style events, with a heavy emphasis on tangible final products. It's our chance to do pursue projects of value to the NASA mission that would not normally be done and also to collaborate with others from around the agency who are doing interesting work in fields that we are trying to learn about. The NASA Forward Maker Camp is as good as participants make it, so be prepared to lead or participate in a project, ask interesting questions, show off what you've been working on, or generally leave your mark on the event. ... The NASA Forward Maker Camp is tentatively scheduled for April 28-29, 2011"

Keith's note: Apparently this official NASA event is happening agencywide - yet there is no mention whatsoever at NASA.gov - only on a non-NASA website at wikispaces.com. NASA's CIO/Open Government Initiative Office is behind this but no mention is made at the CIO website. Curiously, the CIO is not shy about announcing events such as this one and this one.

But when it comes to CIO's participation in events such as the NASA Forward Maker Camp and "Random Hacks of Kindness", the CIO individuals working on these projects go out of their way to limit the public visibility they provide in advance - thus limiting the participation of others outside their small community. Its rather ironic that the "Open Government" initiative office at NASA condones such "closed" behavior.

That said, there is an interesting precedent being set here: all of the people involved in this activity work for the NASA CIO. They have set up this website totally outside of the NASA firewall, use the NASA logo, and are conducting government (NASA) business on this site in their official capacities. The wiki on this website is open for anyone, anywhere on Earth to join, read, and comment on. ANYWHERE. Since the CIO approves of this approach by their staff, will everyone else at NASA be allowed to do this too? No more security, firewalls, design standards? No adherence to Section 508, ITAR, and other government regulations that govern such things? Wow, THAT is really being "open".

Don't get me wrong, I think events such like this are a great idea and they should be encouraged. But the closed way these CIO folks are going about it in terms of giving their efforts visibility and their total disregard for IT rules and regulations their office supposed to enforce, makes me wonder if anyone is really in total control of this organization.

One of the problems they are looking at sounds like something that Code L ought to be coordinating. It also sounds like lobbying material ...

"Task: Generate a "How NASA Affects Your State" Map: Background: One challenge the NASA workforce faces is communicating its impact on the country to the public and politicians. This team could research the economic drivers for each state (e.g. California and agriculture) and match them to NASA Spinoff technology (e.g. don't know, but I'll find out), eventually generating an infographic. This infographic could act as a springboard for NASA employees (and others) to start a conversation about why NASA matters to its stakeholders. The NASA Spinoff App has something similar to this idea, but it is more focused on individuals in each state."

NASA Launches New Website, Celebrates Women's Contributions To Science And Exploration

"NASA will debut its new Women@NASA website during a Women's History Month event at the agency's Headquarters in Washington at 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, March 16. Approximately 200 local students from elementary through high school level will attend and learn about the significant and varied roles women have played in the agency's history."

Go to http://women.nasa.gov/

NASA's Spaceward Bound Goes to the Deserts of the United Arab Emirates

"Whether or not you remember the winter of 2011 as unusually cold or snowy, an adventurous team of experts will remember its intense heat, as they searched for microbial life between sand dunes in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They were searching for simple life forms that also may exist on other planets. The United States team consisted of teachers Mike Wing and Lucinda Land, NASA space scientists Chris McKay and Jon Rask, and education specialist Matthew Reyes. Together, they embarked on a high adventure desert expedition from Feb. 18 - Mar. 4 with UAE students and teachers as part of a NASA education program, called Spaceward Bound."

NASA GSFC Solicitation: The Climate at Home Project

"NASA Goddard Space Flight Center ("GSFC") is looking to enter into a non-funded Space Act Agreement partnership for the development of a climate simulation system referred to hereafter as the "Climate@Home(TM) project." The Climate@Home(TM) project will build a virtual climate simulation supercomputer with contributions from citizens for both their idle computing cycles and local knowledge about climate change."

LOIRP LPSC Student Poster: New Lunar Crater Search Using LROC-NAC vs LOIRP Lunar Orbiter Images

"While some candidate craters were observed that appeared in LROC data but not in Lunar Orbiter data, these were all very near the edge of discernable feature size and are almost certainly explained by various differences between the images (e.g. sun angle or viewing geometry). While our initial search did not find any discernable new cratering, we have shown that data from the original analog Lunar Orbiter tapes, as recovered by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery project, possesses the characteristics necessary to discern new craters at reasonably small sizes. If the entire Lunar Orbiter data set was recovered in this manner it may be possible for future researchers to apply automated methods to detect changes with much better chances of success."

Northrop Grumman Foundation Announces 2011 Weightless Flights of Discovery Program at National Science Teachers' Association Conference

"The Northrop Grumman Foundation announced today that the Foundation is accepting teacher applications for the 2011 Weightless Flights of Discovery program, a unique professional development initiative that places teachers on microgravity flights to test Newton's Laws of Motion and energize students during their formative middle school years. The announcement was made during the National Science Teachers Association's (NSTA) National Conference on Science Education, held in San Francisco this week."

Evaluating NASA Technology Road Maps - Public Workshop Series

"A National Research Council steering committee and six panels that are advising NASA on innovative technologies for future missions is holding a series of public workshops to review 14 draft NASA technology "road maps" and solicit input from the public, the aerospace community, and policymakers. The study will provide recommendations to NASA to help chart a course for technologies and concepts that could benefit future earth and space science missions and also contribute to critical national and commercial needs in space technology."

"Rise to the edge of space, freefall for 50,000 feet, fly through clouds, and land gently in bushes"

Educational Balloon Provides Space Shuttle Launch Images and Video From Over 110,000 feet

"A balloon with a student-oriented payload shot high resolution photos and video from an altitude of over 110,000 feet of Space Shuttle Discovery as it climbed into space."

NASA Announces Winners of OPTIMUS PRIME Spinoff Video Contest

"NASA has announced the winners of the 2010 NASA OPTIMUS PRIME Spinoff Award. The contest encouraged students to produce short, creative videos about their favorite technology from NASA's Spinoff 2009 Publication. NASA collaborated with Hasbro using the correlation between the popular TRANSFORMERS brand, featuring its leader OPTIMUS PRIME, and spinoffs from NASA technologies created for aeronautics and space missions used here on Earth. The goal was to help students understand how NASA technology 'transforms' into things used daily."

Keith's note: Yesterday I made note of a broken website - NASA Buzzroom's video page. One feature of this site is to grab videos posted on YouTube - automatically - and post them on a nasa.gov webpage and add a comment feature. Nice idea - it lets people see what others think about NASA. One small problem - humans are not in the loop at NASA. At one point I found a video that had been on nasa.gov for weeks that depicted a bloody lynching and featured a non-stop stream of profanity. NASA eventually got around to deleting it - once I complained (Google cached version).

I complained about lots of other videos that simply had no reason whatsoever to be on a taxpayer-funded space agency website. Eventually, once someone at NASA saw these videos mentioned by me, they were removed. This process seems to be working backwards. I find these videos simply by looking at the video page. NASA deletes them - but only when I make public note of their location. The NASA folks seem to be utterly incapable of making a decision as to what is in appropriate on their own - or identifying inappropriate videos that have been on their site for weeks (or longer). Nor are they able to fix the problem inherent in this website's design in the first place. Given the way they set up this site, it would seem that no one in SOMD's crack Internet squad ever tested this website before putting it online.

To compound things, they simply take videos off of their webpage because one person (me) complains. That's not right. As such, they clearly don't have any established guidelines for removal of videos either.

Right now a clip from the notoriously horrid Howard the Duck from the 1980s is gracing a nasa.gov page. It is harmless but pointless when it comes to space exploration. The NASA SOMD Internet guys will eventually delete it (this is the video on YouTube). But they will only delete it because I complained. FAIL.

Curiously, while NASA told me - officially - that the NASA lawyers had told them - that they could not link to this rather popular video "NASA - The Frontier Is Everywhere" that went viral a month or so ago, this NASA Buzzroom website links to it. So ... there is a bright side to the way this page works. Too bad the people who run this site do not take its design or upkeep seriously.

Pseudoscience and Profane Videos Featured Online at NASA.gov, earlier post

Keith's update: Beth Beck from SOMD sent me this in response to an inquiry as to how content is approve for posting on NASA Buzzroom. She is responsible for this page at NASA.gov. The full exchange is below. In a nutshell whoever is responsible for this website is incompetent and should be relieved of this responsibility. You see, this is the sort of material that the current process allows to be posted and approved:

Keith's note: This is a much longer version of the previously released video - with music. If at all possible watch this at 720p resolution. As the payload slowly rotates you will see Discovery's vapor trail at the Earth's limb. The payload (with camera) swings to the west (where the sun is) and then swings back to the east, past Discovery's vapor trail, around to the west again and then continues to rotate to the east toward the fading vapor trail.

Educational Balloon Provides Space Shuttle Launch Images and Video From Over 110,000 feet

"Last week a balloon with a student-oriented payload shot high resolution photos and video from an altitude of over 110,000 feet of Space Shuttle Discovery as it climbed into space.These images and video were released today as part of a mission report provided by Quest for Stars representative Bobby Russell at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) at the University of Central Florida."

If you can, watch this video in HD (select the 720p option). As the payload slowly rotates you will see Discovery's vapor trail at the Earth's limb - twice. The payload (with camera) first swings to the west and then reverses and swings back to the east, past Discovery's vapor trail, around to the west again, and then continues to rotate to the east toward the vapor trail again.

Educational Balloon Provides Space Shuttle Launch Images and Video From Over 110,000 feet

"Last week a balloon with a student-oriented payload shot high resolution photos and video from an altitude of over 110,000 feet of Space Shuttle Discovery as it climbed into space.These images and video were released today as part of a mission report provided by Quest for Stars representative Bobby Russell at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) at the University of Central Florida."


Loading

 



Monthly Archives

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Education category.

Earth Science is the previous category.

Election 2004 is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.