The Final Countdown: Shuttle Atlantis Soars Heavenward for Last Time – A Teachable Moment

 Posted by DrJeff on May 12th, 2010

 Copyright 2010  |  About this blog



Photo Caption: Space Shuttle Atlantis at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida after arriving at Pad 39A on April 21, 2010, in preparation for flight STS-132. Click on the image to see Atlantis up close and personal.


This is a Teachable Moments in the News QuickLinks Post. It connects a news story with this Blog’s existing powerful library of Posts and Resource Pages. The cited Posts and Pages provide a deep understanding of concepts in the earth and space sciences relevant to the news story. Teachers—the Posts and Pages are also designed for use as lessons, allowing you to easily bring current science into the classroom as a teachable moment. Each cited Post is outlined in the Teachers Lesson Planner, which includes the Post’s essential questions, concepts, objectives, and math skills.


This is it. The moment when the reality of loss truly begins to sink in. There are three flights of the space shuttle left, one for each of the remaining orbiters—Atlantis, Discovery, and Endeavour. Currently scheduled for launch Friday, May 14, at 2:20 pm EDT, it is Atlantis’ time to soar one last time.


I will be posting these Teachable Moments for each of the remaining flights in the hope that parents and teachers will be able to tune in with our children, and savor the end of an era before the fleet is retired for museum display, forever standing in silent testimony to a remarkable human achievement of days gone by.


Follow the flight of Atlantis on NASA TV. You can also follow along with NASA”s STS-132 Launch Blog, which will begin coverage at 9:00 am EDT on May 14. Other NASA pages of interest:


Countdown Clock and Mission Description


STS-132 Image Gallery


STS-132 Mission Timeline


Here is a NASA video on the rollout of Atlantis to Pad 39-A



Below are previous posts at Blog on the Universe that powerfully address the science, history, and politics of human spaceflight—and can be used to help make the flight of Atlantis a Teachable Moment.


You might start with my February 6, 2010 post Shuttle Endeavour About to Blast Off on its Second to Last Mission, where I imagine what it will be like as the era of the Space Shuttle fades into history along with Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. It’s a powerful lesson for students not realizing they are living through a moment in history.


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Tweetisms for the 21st Century: on Science, Education, and the Human Condition

 Posted by DrJeff on May 5th, 2010

 Copyright 2010  |  About this blog


Photo caption: The Eyjafjallajökull Volcano erupting in Iceland as seen from NASA’s Earth Observing-1 satellite on May 2, 2010. How dare it interrupt the lives of all those folks on business travel.


This is a Dr. Jeff’s Jeffisms post.


This is crossposted at the Huffington Post HERE.


OK, so I’m a regular on Twitter, and proud of it. I guess that makes me a Tweep, and if you aren’t, I’ve got something to tell you. There are lots of folks that think Twitter is where you go when you’ve got this intense need to broadcast to the world what you had for lunch. Mostly these are folks that stay away from Twitter ’cause they either don’t understand it or its power as a social medium. But there are also a whole bunch of Tweeps out there that do think I’m interested in their lunch today—let’s call them lunchies.


So to Twitter avoiders, and to the lunchies, I’d like to add my two cents. Twitter is a water cooler for the 21st century. At this cooler you can meet fellow human beings from across the planet, and share thoughts about life, our world, and our children—common thoughts that bind us all, regardless of nationality. In an age when as never before humanity faces a perfect storm of global problems, it’s precisely this kind of water cooler you’d like to see, and to frequent.


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The Address of A Self-Important World

 Posted by DrJeff on May 3rd, 2010

 Copyright 2010  |  About this blog


Photo caption: Earth as seen by the MESSENGER spacecraft as it flew by our planet on August 2 2005.

This post is a Dr. Jeff Speaks Out.


This is crossposted at the Huffington Post HERE and at the Space Tweep Society Blog HERE.

Don’t let your seemingly vast experience as an inhabitant of this world fool you. It’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of self-importance. Let me explain.


You likely live in a house or apartment on a street, and in a community that’s part of some town, maybe even some major urban area. Your community is likely part of a much larger state or province of one of the nations of Earth—which are themselves nothing more than imaginary constructs of human society. Your country is also likely assigned to one of the continental masses whose sum total of land area is just 29% of the planet’s surface. You are small and the Earth is seemingly vast, as if we humans to Earth are just so many micro-organisms scurrying about each day (each rotation of Earth), and following rules of social engagement that often defy logic.


It’s a story that at a most fundamental level defines your address. It may be all the address you need to ship a package to your friend across the ocean. But it won’t cut it with the intergalactic post office. As I said, don’t let your experience and perception fool you. It’s the rest of the address of which most Earthlings are unaware. For so many reasons it’s also the most important part of the address.


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