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Home Blogs Laurie Ruberg Glad You’re Back, NASA, You Were Missed!

Glad You’re Back, NASA, You Were Missed!

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Written by lruberg45!
20 Oct 2013
Among the many news stories about the government shutdown was an interesting side story by CNN, which highlighted their list of the top nine government-funded resources they’re most happy to welcome back.  While millions of Americans were frustrated by the 16-day government shutdown, NASA Space Exploration websites, images, and social media updates were among the list of nine things CNN readers greatly missed and are glad to welcome back.  NASATalk would like to welcome NASA media’s return with these space exploration news stories and education opportunities.
northern lights iss 20131009   saturn20131017 Fitchburg-MA   GRAV Tombstone 205x305 1
Northern Lights viewed
from the ISS
Looking Down on
Announcing Student
Spaceflight Experiments
Program (SSEP) 
NASA Featured in
Gravity 3D

First, this photo features from the International Space Station…

northern lights iss 20131009
Northern Lights Viewed From the International Space Station

10/17/2013 12:00 PM EDT - Astronaut Mike Hopkins, aboard the International Space Station, shared this picture of the northern lights on Oct. 9, 2013, saying, "The pic doesn't do the northern lights justice. Covered the whole sky. Truly amazing!" The northern lights are caused by collisions between fast-moving particles (electrons) from space and the oxygen and nitrogen gas in our atmosphere. These electrons originate in the magnetosphere, the region of space controlled by Earth’s magnetic field. As they rain into the atmosphere, the electrons impart energy to oxygen and nitrogen molecules, making them excited. When the molecules return to their normal state, they release photons, small bursts of energy in the form of light. Astronauts have used hand-held cameras to photograph the Earth for more than 40 years. Beginning with the Mercury missions in the early 1960s, astronauts have taken more than 700,000 photographs of the Earth. Today, the space station continues the NASA tradition of Earth observation from human-tended spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA

Looking Down on Saturn a Recent Photo Feature on NASA Image of the Day - High Above Saturn
10/17/2013 12:00 PM EDT  This portrait looking down on Saturn and its rings was created from images obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on Oct. 10, 2013. It was made by amateur image processor and Cassini fan, Gordan Ugarkovic. This image has not been geometrically corrected for shifts in the spacecraft perspective and still has some camera artifacts. The mosaic was created from 12 image footprints with red, blue and green filters from Cassini's imaging science subsystem. Ugarkovic used full color sets for 11 of the footprints and red and blue images for one footprint. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit and Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/G. Ugarkovic

Announcing the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP)

Eighth Flight Opportunity: SSEP Mission 6 to the International Space Station for the 2014 Academic Year 

Opportunity for a School District, Even an Individual Large School, to Engage a Few Hundred Grade 5-12 Students in Very Real Microgravity Experiment Design for
Flight to the International Space Station (ISS) 

TIME CRITICAL: interested school districts are directed to inquire about the program no later than October 31, 2013.   Experiment Design and Proposal Writing Phase: February 24 - April 28, 2014. Launch of Your Community's Selected Fight Experiment expected Fall 2014

Fitchburg-MAThis is an open invitation for YOUR students to be real researchers, and your community to be part of America’s Space Program – in fact we want you to have your OWN Space Program.  Note: this program is not for an individual class or small group of students.   The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program was designed as a model U.S. national STEM education initiative to inspire and engage the next generation. 

To give you a sense of the embraced pedagogical approach when we created this program, you might want to share the following 3-minute Symphony of Science music video with interested staff. It is from my Keynote Address to 6,000 science teachers on STEM education in the 21st century, delivered at the 2011 National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) National Conference, and the philosophy it contains reflects SSEP:  

SSEP Mission 6 to ISS will provide each participating community a real microgravity research mini-laboratory capable of supporting a single microgravity experiment, and all launch services to fly the mini-lab to the International Space Station (ISS) in low Earth orbit in Fall 2014, and return it safely to Earth for student harvesting and analysis. Mirroring how professional research is done, student teams across your community design their own microgravity research programs, and submit real but grade level appropriate research proposals. Proposals from across your community go through a formal review process, and the community’s flight experiment is selected by a Review Board meeting at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, a National Partner on SSEP. The design competition - from program start, to experiment design, to submission of proposals by student teams – spans 9 weeks from February 24 to April 28, 2014. Content resources for teachers and students support foundational instruction on science in microgravity and experiment design. 

This is a true science immersion program where students are asked to be real scientists and go through the exact same process as professional researchers
vying for research resources and research opportunities.  

SSEP addresses a wide range of biological and physical science disciplines,
including: seed germination, crystal growth, physiology and life cycles of microorganisms (e.g. bacteria), cell biology and growth, food studies, and studies of micro-aquatic life. Students design experiments to the technology and engineering constraints imposed by a real research mini-lab and flight
operations to and from Earth orbit.  

Students also have their own research conference at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, in early July of each year. It is a venue where they can report on experiment design and research findings to the community of their peers. Video clips of all team presentations are archived by the Smithsonian on

9-Week Experiment Design Phase in Your Community: February 24 - April 28, 2014 Selection of Your Community’s Flight Experiment: May 29, 2014 Ferry Flight to ISS: expected Fall 2014 Ferry Flight Return to Earth: expectation is Launch + 6 weeks National Conference at Smithsonian in Washington, DC: early July 2014 and July 2015. 

ALL INTERESTED COMMUNITIES ARE ASKED TO READ THIS NOTICE CAREFULLY AND INQUIRE BY October 31, 2013; schools and districts need to assess interest with their staff and, if appropriate, move forward with an Implementation Plan.  

DEADLINE FOR COMMUNITIES TO BE ABOARD (approved Implementation Plan and funded):
February 17, 2014. To meet this deadline, the Center needs to begin working with
interested communities as soon as possible.      

Since program inception in June 2010, there have been seven SSEP flight
opportunities: SSEP on STS-134 and STS-135, which were the final flights of
Space Shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis; and SSEP Missions 1 through 5 to ISS.  

Through the first 6 flight opportunities, 60 communities have participated in the program, a total of 21,600 grade 5-14 students were fully immersed in microgravity experiment design and proposal writing, and 5,090 experiment proposals were submitted by student teams. 14 communities have participated in 2, 3, or 4 flight opportunities, reflecting the sustainable nature of the program. 

Latest news: on-orbit flight operations aboard the International Space Station for SSEP Mission 3 experiments began on September 30, 2013, conducted by astronaut Luca Parmitano. The Falcon I payload of Mission 3 experiments was transported to Station on the historic first flight of the Orbital Sciences Cygnus spacecraft. It was launched aboard an Antares rocket from the new Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), Wallops Island, VA, on September 18, and berthed with Station on September 29. Falcon I experiments return to Earth on Soyuz 35S on November 11, 2013. 

We are now in pre-flight operations for the launch of the Mission 4 Orion payload of SSEP experiments in December on the Orbital Sciences 1 (Orb-1) mission out of the MARS. Community delegations will be in attendance. 

1. CAREFULLY read the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program home page (link below), which serves as an Executive Summary for the program and the Mission 6 to ISS flight opportunity. Also below are the links to the extensive media
coverage, and program testimonials from community leadership.   

2. Contact us via the SSEP home page, or call me directly at: 301-395-0770   

Lastly, NASA Featured in Gravity 3D, A Space Adventure Hollywood Movie

GRAV Tombstone 205x305 1I saw GRAVITY 3D at a Saturday afternoon matinee this past weekend (19 Oct 2013).  The weather outside was terrible, and the theater was pretty empty this time of day, so it was a great time to see this movie.  My friends and I almost had the theater to ourselves.  We had time to get used to the plastic 3D glasses--most of the previews were for other 3D movies. 

I didn't know a lot about Gravity, the movie, ahead of time--I'd just heard from friends that it had a four star review and featured great use of 3D special effects.  The movie starts you off right away watching Sandra Bullock and George Clooney floating in space, involved in a Hubble repair mission.  For me, being lost adrift in outer space is one of my biggest nightmares, so I was hooked from the start of this movie wanting to get everyone back into the spacecraft safely as soon as possible.  The 3D effects were not disappointing.  I was physically flinching when space debris of various sorts came flying towards me in the 3D movie landscape.  The action was non-stop.  There's a lot of tension throughout the movie, but the ending is pretty satisfying—at least for Dr. Stone.  I left the theater thinking that this NASA 3D story was kind of like a Rube Goldberg in Earth's orbit. I recommend it.

Last update (24 Oct 2013)


1 + | -
Glad You’re Back, NASA, You Were Missed!
Written by: lruberg45! On: 24 Oct 2013

The "Welcome back, NASA" theme to this blog was not meant to appear flippant about the real consequences of the 17-day shutdown of the government and its consequences financially and to federally funded research activities that were disrupted, curtailed, or eliminated due to the funding delays. As this article in Scientific American points out, The Government Shutdown Was Temporary, Its Damage to Science Permanent, for many health regulators, inspectors, and research labs across the country the shutdown had an immediate impact on productivity and may eliminate some research study results. I hope efforts to prevent future shutdowns on this scale are successful.

- See more at:

0 + | -
Glad You’re Back, NASA, You Were Missed!
Written by: Louise On: 24 Oct 2013

The "Welcome back, NASA" theme to this blog was not meant to appear flippant about the real consequences of the 16-day shutdown of the government and its consequences financially and to federally funded research activities that were disrupted, curtailed, or eliminated due to the funding delays. As this article in Scientific American points out, The Government Shutdown Was Temporary, Its Damage to Science Permanent, for many health regulators, inspectors, and research labs across the country the shutdown had an immediate impact on productivity and may eliminate some research study results. I hope efforts to prevent future shutdowns on this scale are successful.

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