Start the School Year with Curiosity – Teacher PD – Buehler Challenger & Science Center

As NASA’s Curiosity rover gets closer to its August 5/6 landing on Mars, it’s the perfect time to begin planning school activities focused on the beginning of this latest mission to the red planet.  The “Start School with Curiosity” workshop will include formal and informal STEM curriculum and resources created to enhance students’ understanding of Curiosity’s exploration of Mars at Gale Crater.   In addition, participants will be able to view a live press conference broadcast from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory with updates on the status of the mission.  After the press conference everyone will join in live Q&A session with Mars team members via NASA’s Digital Learning Network.

Workshop is presented by Laura Venner, NASA/JPL Educator, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassadors Program, Project Astro visiting astronomer, Adjunct Professor of Astronomy at Bergen Community College, and Buehler Challenger Mission Commander.

Teacher workshop details:

Date: August 4, 2012

Participants:  All teachers are invited.  This information is adaptable to all grade levels.

Credit:  Each participant will receive 5 hours of professional credit.

Cost: If you currently have missions scheduled for 2012-2013, you can use your teacher workshop credits and come for free!  For example, two missions scheduled equals two teachers from your school can come for free, provided the credits are not needed for scenario training. If you do not have missions scheduled for 2012-2013, please join us for the nominal cost of $100 per teacher.

Lunch:  We provide beverages.  Bring your own lunch or we can order a deli sandwich for you at $6.50.

Reservations:  Make your reservation today by emailing  or  calling  Monday through Friday 9 am – 4:00 pm 201-251-8589.  The Center accepts purchase orders, personal checks, and Visa/MasterCard.  Limited space available.


NASA Still Thriving

by  David Seidel of the JPL Education Office

  • For every day over the last decade there has been one to three Americans living and working in space on the International Space Station, 4,000 straight days as of Sunday, October 16, 2011.
  • For every day for the next decade there will be one to three Americans living and working in space on the International Space Station.
  • There are four space vehicles capable of visiting ISS (Soyuz, Progress, ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle and Japan’s H-2 Transfer Vehicle).
  • Several private companies are vying for work to deliver cargo and, eventually crew, to and from ISS. SpaceX may fly its Dragon spacecraft to rendezvous and dock with ISS before the end of this year. Orbital Science’s Cygnus spacecraft may have a test flight before the end of the year as well.
  • At this moment there are robotic spacecraft in orbit around eight different planetary bodies (Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Moon, Mars, Saturn and Vesta). (Note that the ESA’s Venus Express is not a NASA mission but there is some NASA support.) Three additional spacecraft (Voyagers and New Horizons) are on solar system escape trajectories.
  • There is a mission on the way to orbit Jupiter (Juno) and the Grail twins are on the way to the Moon.
  • There are three operational spacecraft in orbit around Mars and an operating rover on the surface (Opportunity).
  • NASA’s Science Mission Directorate lists 63 operational spacecraft and 36 space missions under development.
  • JPL has 39 missions and instruments in some stage of the mission life-cycle. (These are either already in flight or being prepared; it does not include future competitions or hoped-for missions.)