Status Report

NASA Education Express Message — Sept. 11, 2014

By SpaceRef Editor
September 12, 2014
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Family Day Event at Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum

The Smithsonian’s family day event series celebrates the diverse ethnic and cultural communities that have contributed to aviation and space exploration. Events will commemorate historic and current contributions through presentations and activities for the entire family. The events are free and open to the public.

Women in Aviation and Space
Sept. 13, 2014, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. EDT
Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, District of Columbia

From the days of the earliest pilots to today’s space program, women have been making significant contributions. Celebrate the incredible contributions of women in aviation and space exploration at the “Women in Aviation and Space” family day. During this event, visitors will have the opportunity to meet female role models and learn about the women who inspired them.

Questions about this series of events should be directed to the Visitor Service line at 202-633-1000.


Call for Papers — The NACA Centenary: A Symposium on 100 Years of Aerospace Research and Development

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, or NASM, and NASA’s History Program Office invite proposals for papers to a special symposium commemorating a century of aerospace research and development. On March 3, 1915, the U.S. Congress established the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, or NACA, “to separate the real from the imagined and make known the overlooked and unexpected” in the quest for flight. In honor of that centennial, NASA and NASM will team to present a symposium on the history of the NACA. This historical symposium will be held in Washington, District of Columbia, on March 3-4, 2015.

All are invited to submit proposals. Major themes to be addressed in the symposium include:

— The NACA organizational and institutional structure and evolution.
— The NACA model of public/private partnerships in aerospace research.
— The NACA’s contributions to aerospace theory, ground research and flight operations.
             — Individual projects.
             — Broad themes in the history of the agency.
             — Research projects versus other structural attributes.
— The social, economic and/or political history of the NACA.
— The NACA culture and its evolution.
— The relationship of the NACA to other entities, both private and public.
— Innovation in aerospace research.
— Models of partnership.

Possible topics are not restricted to these major themes. All papers are envisioned as scholarly contributions exploring broad thematic issues and questions.

Contributions from international scholars and graduate students with an interest in this history are welcome.

Some travel support scholarships may be available for international scholars and graduate students. Please indicate your interest in a need statement included with your paper proposal. 

We intend that a subset of the papers will merit publication. 

Proposals for papers should include a title and an abstract, as well as the author’s curriculum vita, and travel support need statement (as appropriate). Please send all proposals, in the form of a 300-word abstract and a brief vita electronically to Dr. William P. Barry, NASA chief historian,, and Dr. Roger D. Launius, associate director for Collections and Curatorial Affairs at the National Air and Space Museum, launiusr@si.eduThe deadline for abstract submissions is Sept. 15, 2014.

Decisions about acceptance and support will be made by Nov. 1, 2014.

For more information about the Call for Papers, visit


MAVEN Workshop — Red Planet: Read, Write, Explore!

The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN, or MAVEN, mission is set to arrive at Mars on Sept. 21, 2014. Celebrate the arrival with the MAVEN education team at this one-day workshop about the mission and the accompanying elementary program, Red Planet: Read, Write, Explore! The program features six standards-based lessons that combine science, literacy and art to help students understand planetary habitability and the MAVEN mission. 

The workshop will include dinner and lectures by MAVEN scientists. Following the workshop, participants will watch the NASA TV broadcast of the MAVEN spacecraft’s arrival at Mars. 

The workshop will take place on Sept. 21, 2014, in Boulder, Colorado. Registration is $20 and includes coffee, snacks and dinner. Applications are due Sept. 15, 2014, but space is limited so interested educators are encouraged to apply early.

For more information about the workshop and to apply online, visit

Please email any questions about this opportunity to


Free Education Webinar From NASA Educator Professional Development — Habitability of Planets

Join NASA Educator Professional Development on Sept. 18, 2014, at 8 p.m. EDT, for an hourlong webinar for educators of grades 4-8. Participants will learn how NASA scientists are exploring regions of Earth that could provide clues to life elsewhere in the solar system. Many other bodies in space have the components needed for life to exist, but are their environments too extreme? Could extremophiles be the key to unlock the mysteries of life beyond Earth?

For more information and to register online, visit


Second Annual Astrobiology Symposium at the Library of Congress

The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress in the District of Columbia, in cooperation with the NASA Astrobiology Program, is hosting the second annual Astrobiology Symposium on Sept. 18-19, 2014.

“Preparing for Discovery: A Rational Approach to the Impact of Finding Microbial, Complex or Intelligent Life Beyond Earth,” is a two-day symposium featuring panel discussions, lectures and audience question-and-answer sessions. Panel members include professors, scientists, philosophers and astronomers representing various universities and organizations including NASA, the SETI Institute and the Library of Congress.

The event is free and open to the public. No pre-registration is required. For those unable to attend the symposium in person, the two-day event will be streamed live via webcast at

For more information, visit

Questions about the symposium should be directed to Jason Steinhauer at


Launch Opportunity: RockSat-C and RockSat-X Programs

NASA, in partnership with the Colorado Space Grant Consortium, is offering the opportunity for university instructors and students to participate in three programs designed for everyone from the novice to the more experienced space researcher.

RockSat-C is a competitive program for university and community college students to design and build a sounding rocket payload, and then launch the payload on a sounding rocket at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The program actively engages students through full design-process mentoring, with assistance through the design phase throughout the fall semester. During the spring semester, teams are lead through testing and integration reviews, along with a launch readiness review.

RockSat-X pushes the RockSat-C concept to new extremes by providing participants with full access to the space environment, more in-flight resources and less restrictive design space. Deployable items are even allowed. In addition, payloads will be provided power and a live telemetry feed for real-time data acquisition during the flight. These amenities allow experimenters to focus more on the science and leave power and data handling to the Wallops rocket team.

Selected RockSat-C experiments will launch in June 2015. RockSat-X experiments are expected to launch later in the summer.

Student teams who are up to the challenge are invited to submit an intent to fly form before Sept. 19, 2014

To learn more about RockSat-C and to see experiments selected for previous flights, visit

Questions about the RockSat-C program should be directed to Becca Lidvall by email at

To learn more about RockSat-X and to see experiments selected for previous flights, visit

Questions about the RockSat-X program should be directed to Jesse Austin by email at


2015 RASC-AL Robo-Ops Competition

NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace announce the 2015 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts-Academic Linkage Exploration Robo-Ops, also known as RASC-AL Robo-Ops, competition. This design competition is aimed at university-level engineering or science students.

The RASC-AL Robo-Ops contest challenges participants to build a planetary rover prototype and demonstrate its capabilities in field tests at NASA’s Johnson Space Center’s Rock Yard. Up to three members of the team (plus the faculty advisor) may travel to Johnson Space Center for the onsite testing. The remaining team members will stay behind at the local university to conduct mission control tasks. The prototype rovers will be tele-operated by the mission control team members and must negotiate a series of obstacles while accomplishing a variety of tasks that include sample collection and acquisition. The only information available to the rover controller to perform the required tasks will be information transmitted through onboard rover video camera(s) or other onboard sensors.

Interested teams are encouraged to submit a notice of intent by Sept. 19, 2014, and teams must submit a project plan for their proposed projects by Oct. 10, 2014. The RASC-AL Robo-Ops Steering Committee of NASA experts will evaluate the project plans and select up to eight teams to compete against each other at the Rock Yard in June 2015, providing each selected team with a $10,000 stipend to develop its rover. $12,000 in cash awards is available to the winning teams.

The RASC-AL competition is open to full-time undergraduate or graduate students majoring in engineering or science at an accredited university. University design teams must include one faculty or industry advisor with a university affiliation and two or more undergraduate or graduate students. Multidisciplinary teams are encouraged.

For more information about this competition, visit

If you have questions about this competition, please contact Stacy Dees at or Shelley Spears at


NASA Family Education Night at Kennedy Space Center

NASA is hosting the annual NASA Family Education Night on Sept. 20, 2014, from 2 – 6 p.m. EDT at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

The event, targeted for first- through sixth-grade students and their parents, will focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, with the theme Technology Drives Exploration. Educational activities and demonstrations will highlight the future of America’s space program and allow children to apply critical thinking skills, make and launch rockets and talk with a former astronaut.

For more information, visit

Questions about the event should be directed to Joshua Santora at


National Mars Education Conference — Mars and the Comet: How to Use Natural Events as NGSS-Aligned Teachable Moments in Your Classroom

Mars and the Comet…Close Encounters of the Natural Kind!

Have you ever wondered how to turn natural events into rich, teachable science moments in your classroom? Join NASA’s Mars Education team to learn Next Generation Science Standards-aligned strategies to use natural events as timely learning opportunities. The conference will focus on a fantastic, dramatic natural event that is taking place very soon — Comet Siding Spring is on track to have a close encounter with Mars on Oct. 19, 2014!

Mars Program Chief Scientist Dr. Richard Zurek from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will be the featured guest speaker. He will provide educators with the latest information about how NASA will address this challenging natural event.

Find out how Mars related activities can enhance your curriculum. Learn about the newest Red Planet discoveries and new classroom science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, tools. In addition, attendees will be introduced to NGSS STEM hands-on activities and ways to extend students’ learning with critical thinking and project-based learning challenges. Conference participants will receive lesson plans, NASA materials and a certificate with 6 ½ professional development hours.

Applications are due Sept. 23, 2014.

For more information, visit

Questions about the conference should be directed to Sheri Klug Boonstra at or


REGISTRATION EXTENDED: Zero Robotics High School Tournament 2014

The Zero Robotics High School Tournament 2014 will take place this fall, offering U. S. high school students the opportunity to design experiments that will be tested in space.

Zero Robotics challenges high school student teams to write their own algorithms to fly the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES. The competition starts online where teams compete to solve an annual challenge guided by mentors. Students can create, edit, share, save, simulate and submit code from a Web browser. After several phases of virtual competition, finalists will be selected to compete in a live championship aboard the International Space Station.

The competition kicked off with a live webcast event from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Sept. 6, 2014. Registration for the competition closes on Sept. 24, 2014. To be an official competitor, code for the 2D Practice competition must be submitted by Sept. 26, 2014.

For more information about the tournament and to register your team to participate, visit

Zero Robotics is organized by Massachusetts Institute of Technology Space Systems Laboratory and Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation, with support from NASA, the European Space Agency and the Center for Advancement of Science in Space.

Please email any questions about this opportunity to


Solar System Ambassadors Program Accepting Applications

The NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Solar System Ambassadors, or SSA, Program, a nationwide network of space enthusiast volunteers, is accepting applications through Sept. 30, 2014.

Highly motivated individuals will be given the opportunity to represent NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as volunteer Solar System Ambassadors to the public for a one-year, renewable term beginning Jan. 1, 2015. 

While applications are being sought nationwide, interested parties from the following states are especially encouraged to apply: Alaska, Delaware, Iowa, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Wyoming and the District of Columbia. SSA hopes to add 100 new volunteers to the program in 2015.

To learn more about the Solar System Ambassador Program and to apply online, visit The Announcement of Opportunity and application form are now available.

If you have questions about this opportunity, contact Kay Ferrari, SSA Coordinator, by email at


Send Your Name to the Asteroid Bennu!

NASA is inviting people around the world to submit their names to be etched on a microchip aboard a spacecraft headed to the asteroid Bennu in 2016.

The “Messages to Bennu!” microchip will travel to the asteroid aboard the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx, spacecraft. The robotic mission will spend more than two years at the asteroid, which has a width of approximately 1,760 feet (500 meters). The spacecraft will collect a sample of Bennu’s surface and return it to Earth in a sample return capsule.

The deadline to submit names online is Sept. 30, 2014. Participants who submit their names to the “Messages to Bennu!” campaign will be able to print a certificate of appreciation to document their involvement.

For more information and to submit your name, visit

Participants who “follow” or “like” the mission on Facebook ( will receive updates on the location of their names in space from launch time until the asteroid samples return to Earth in 2023. Facebook fans also will receive mission progress and late-breaking news through regular status updates.

For more information about the OSIRIS-REx mission, visit and

Questions about this opportunity should be directed to


Submit Messages for Asteroid Mission Time Capsule

NASA is inviting the worldwide public to submit short messages and images on social media that could be placed in a time capsule aboard a spacecraft launching to an asteroid in 2016.

The Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer spacecraft, also known as OSIRIS-Rex, will rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu in 2019. OSIRIS-REx will collect a sample and return it in a capsule to Earth in 2023 for detailed study. The robotic mission will spend more than two years at the asteroid, which is 1,760 feet (500 meters) wide, and return a minimum of 2 ounces (60 grams) of its surface material.

Topics for submissions by the public should be about solar system exploration in 2014 and predictions for space exploration activities in 2023. The mission team will choose 50 tweets and 50 images to be placed in the capsule. Messages must be submitted by Sept. 30, 2014.

When the sample return capsule returns to Earth in 2023 with the asteroid material, the mission team will open the time capsule to view the messages and images, at which time the selected submissions will be posted online.

For details on procedures and rules for submitting a message and image, visit

For more about the OSIRIS-REx mission, visit


Celebrate World Space Week 2014

Imagine an entire week of space-themed activities to enhance learning. Join educators and space enthusiasts around the world to celebrate World Space Week, Oct. 4-10, 2014.

World Space Week is the largest public space event in the world, with over 1,400 events in more than 80 countries held during the week of Oct. 4-10.

In 2014, World Space Week encourages the use global navigation satellite systems space-themed activities.

To learn more about World Space Week, find educational materials, and register your event, visit


Celebrate Earth Science Week: Earth’s Connected Systems

Join us for an exploration of our dynamic Earth! This year, Earth Science Week takes place Oct. 12-18, and celebrates Earth’s Connected Systems – from land to sea, ice to sky and everything living in between. 

NASA missions study Earth’s system and help us to understand the interconnectivity among its components. NASA’s Earth Science Week 2014 website covers NASA Earth missions and how scientists study our home planet, educational resources about Earth’s system, videos, links to mission science, and more.

Visit the site to see a schedule of events for educators and the public:

Do you want the latest information on NASA Earth Science Week activities? Follow NASA’s Earth Science Week team on Twitter (@NASAESW) or Facebook (


Earth Science Week 2014 Contests

The American Geosciences Institute is sponsoring a series of contests to celebrate Earth Science Week 2014. This year’s celebration takes place Oct. 12-18, 2014.

Earth Science Week 2014 Photography Contest — Open to All Ages

Earth science is the study of the geosphere (land), hydrosphere (water), atmosphere (air) and biosphere (living things). These spheres — or earth systems — are continually affecting and influencing one another. In our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our workplaces and in our public gathering places, we can observe the dynamic interactions of “earth system science.” In a photograph, capture evidence of the connections of earth systems in your community.

Earth Science Week 2014 Visual Arts Contest — Open to Students in Grades K-5

Earth scientists — or geoscientists — study land, water, air and living things. In particular, these scientists pay attention to the ways these “connected systems” affect each other. For example, scientists study how water shapes the land, how living things use air and how air and water act on each other. How do these connected systems affect you? Use artwork to show how land, water, air and living things are connected in the world around you.

Earth Science Week 2014 Essay Contest — Open to Students in Grades 6-9

Our planet’s land, water, air, and living things each affect and are affected by one another. Earth scientists observe these interactions among earth systems — the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. Scientists study these interactions to seize opportunities and address challenges in areas such as harnessing energy, farming land, ensuring safe water, preparing for natural disasters, protecting the environment and building communities. Explain one way that geoscientists’ study of Earth’s connected systems is helping to improve the world today.

The entry deadline for all three contests is Oct. 17, 2014. Visit the contest websites for full details.

If you have any questions about these contests, please email the Earth Science Week staff at


Open House 2014: NASA’s Ames Research Center

To celebrate its 75th anniversary, NASA’s Ames Research Center in California is hosting an open house. 

On Oct. 18, 2014, the public is invited to visit NASA’s center in Silicon Valley. Take a 2-mile walking tour through the center, and visit with Ames engineers and scientists in booths set up in front of their facilities. After the walking tour, visit the plaza to learn about Ames’ missions. Food, drinks and mementos will be available for purchase. 

General visitor parking will be offsite, and tickets with reserved entry times will be required to attend the event.

For more information, visit

Questions about the Ames Open House event should be directed to Sharon Lozano at


2015 RASC-AL Aerospace Concepts Design Competition

NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace announce the 2015 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts-Academic Linkage, or RASC-AL, Aerospace Concepts competition. RASC-AL is a design project competition for university-level engineering students and faculty.

The 2015 RASC-AL contest challenges participants to design projects based on real NASA problems, responding to one of four themes: 
— Earth-Independent Mars Pioneering Architecture
— Earth-Independent Lunar Pioneering Architecture
— Mars’ Moons Prospector Mission
— Large-Scale Mars Entry, Decent and Landing Pathfinder Mission

Concepts derived from the design projects could potentially be implemented by NASA.

Interested teams are encouraged to submit a notice of intent by Nov. 3, 2014, and teams must submit an abstract for their proposed project by Jan. 11, 2015. The RASC-AL Steering Committee of NASA and industry experts will evaluate the proposals and select as many as 11 undergraduate and five graduate teams to compete against each other at a forum in June 2015 in Florida.

The RASC-AL competition is open to full-time undergraduate or graduate students majoring in engineering or science at an accredited university. University design teams must include one faculty or industry advisor with a university affiliation and two or more undergraduate or graduate students. A group of universities may also collaborate on a design project entry. Multidisciplinary teams are encouraged.

For more information about this competition, visit

If you have questions about this competition, please contact Stacy Dees at or Shelley Spears at


National Institutes of Health Seeking Applications for Serious STEM Games for Pre-College and Informal Science Education Audiences

The National Institutes of Health, or NIH, is seeking applications for funding awards to develop serious science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, games with a focus on biology that address health and medicine questions for pre-kindergarten to 12th grade students, pre- and in-service educators or informal education audiences.

Serious games are defined as the use of gaming technology to train, educate and encourage behavioral changes in a virtual world format where progressive learning, feedback on success and user control are combined into an interactive and engaging experience.

Two types of grants are available. Awards will be made via Small Business Innovation Research grants and Small Business Technology Transfer grants. Only United States small business concerns, or SBCs, are eligible to submit applications for this opportunity. An SBC is one that, at the time of award of Phase I and Phase II, meets specific requirements. For full details, visit the opportunity website. 

The first deadline for applications is Nov. 12, 2014.

For more information regarding these grant opportunities, please visit Questions should be directed to


National Science Foundation’s East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes Fellowship Program

The National Science Foundation, or NSF, is accepting applications for its East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes, or EAPSI, Fellowship Program. This program provides U.S. graduate students in science and engineering with an opportunity to spend eight weeks (10 weeks for Japan) during the summer conducting research at one of seven host locations in East Asia and the Pacific. Host locations are Australia, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan. The program is a collaboration between NSF and counterpart agencies in each host location.

EAPSI is open to graduate students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and are enrolled in a research-oriented master’s or doctoral program in science or engineering. Applicants must propose a research project in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics field supported by NSF. Applicants identify and contact host researchers on their own prior to submitting their EAPSI proposals. Lists of prospective host institutions are available at the opportunity website.

NSF provides EAPSI Fellows with a $5,000 stipend and roundtrip airplane ticket to the host location. The program’s foreign counterparts provide in-country living expenses and accommodations (arrangements vary by host location). 

The application submission deadline for summer 2015 is Nov. 13, 2014.

For additional information about the program, including location-specific handbooks, a How to Apply guide and helpful tips for applicants, visit

An EAPSI Informational Webinar will be conducted on Friday, Oct. 17, 2014, at 2 p.m. EDT. Log-in instructions will be available at

Questions about this fellowship opportunity should be directed to


2015 NOAA Undergraduate Scholarship

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is accepting applications for its 2015 Educational Partnership Program, or EPP, Undergraduate Scholarship Program. The EPP Undergraduate Scholarship Program provides scholarships for two years of undergraduate study to rising junior undergraduate students majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields that directly support NOAA’s mission. 

Participants receive total awards valued at up to $35,000 in total support during their junior and senior years. During the first summer, scholars complete a nine-week paid summer internship at NOAA in Silver Spring, Maryland. During the second summer, scholars complete paid internships at NOAA facilities across the country. A stipend and housing allowance is provided. At the end of both summer internships, students present the results of their projects at an education and science symposium in Silver Spring. 

Students attending an accredited Minority Serving Institution within the United States or U.S. Territories as defined by the U.S. Department of Education (Hispanic Serving Institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Alaskan-Native Serving Institutions, and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions) are eligible to apply for the program. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and must earn and maintain a minimum 3.2 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.

Applications are due Jan. 30, 2015.

For more information and to submit an online application, visit

Questions about this scholarship opportunity should be directed to

SpaceRef staff editor.