Oh No! NASA’s LCROSS Is Going to Hit the Moon! Run!

 Posted by DrJeff on October 8th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

johnny_automatic_angry_moon

This is a supplement to my earlier post NASA LCROSS to Slam into Moon October 9, 2009.

This is crossposted at the Huffington Post HERE.

 

 

We’re slamming this thing into the Moon?! Hasn’t anybody thought this through?! The Moon’s going to be forced from its orbit! Giant tides will wash around the Earth! Buildings will topple! The Man in the Moon will be mad at us! Do we really need another catastrophe?!


An hour after I put up my NASA LCROSS to Slam into Moon post to help teachers make this a Teachable Moment on the Moon in classrooms, my good Twitter friend Heather Good at FoundonMars.com tells me there are actually folks out there thinking about impending doom (check out the comments at this recent HuffPost article.) She asked me to come up with something that can put everyone’s mind at ease. There was tension, anxiety, scared people … shades of Orson Welles War of the Worlds radio broadcast that had folks running from their homes. Cool (not the running thing. The “can you come up with something to calm folks” thing.)

 

Ready?

 

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TMN QuickLinks: NASA LCROSS to Slam into Moon October 9, 2009

 Posted by DrJeff on October 7th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

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.

 

 

226580main_2007-08-02 On Way In

There’s an exciting event scheduled on the Moon, and you’re invited. The NASA LCROSS spacecraft and it’s Atlas V Centaur upper stage rocket will slam into the lunar South Pole on October 9 at 4:30 am PDT. It is going to be a BIG news story AND IT SHOULD BE VISIBLE TO YOU if you’re west of the Mississippi (in the U.S.) AND you can hook up with an amateur astronomer with a good-sized (recommended 10-12-inch aperture) telescope. Sounds like a good motivation for an impact party to me.

 

There is a Blog on the Universe Post—If I Could Gift Wrap the Moon—that is perfect for a thought-provoking, conceptually hard-hitting classroom discussion about the size of the Moon and its relationship to Earth in advance of (even after) the LCROSS impact. It includes simple and quite elegant hands-on activities.

 

Here are the links:


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I Don’t Have My Camera Handy, but Say “Cheese” Anyway! “Photography” in the Digital Age

 Posted by DrJeff on October 6th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

MercuryImage

Photo caption: Part of Mercury’s never before seen surface, from MESSENGER spacecraft data obtained during the first flyby on January 14, 2008. 

You want to see spectacular? Click on the photo.

Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/Arizona State University, 2008.

 

This post is a Teachable Moment in the News.


The picture above was the central image for my recent Special Post on the MESSENGER spacecraft’s September 29, 2009 flyby of Mercury. It is an incredibly compelling image, and there is a great back-story for how it was produced. In the image caption at the Special Post I had invited you to read the story, but I suspect many missed the link. So I decided it was worthy of its own post!

 

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Regular Updates: The Flight of MESSENGER to Mercury through Orbital Insertion, March 18, 2011

 Posted by DrJeff on October 4th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Click Here to Skip the Overview of this Updates Page and Jump Directly to Updates Archive Below

 

 

Flyby 3 may be over, but MESSENGER’s mission continues. Bookmark this page for MESSENGER updates. Also note you can always access this page from the Teachable Moments in the News Quick Links box in the upper right column of this Blog, which includes the date of the latest update.


Teachers—place the mission in the greater context of human exploration, and exploration of the Solar System, using this Blog’s MESSENGER Ideas for Lessons in the Classroom, and Educational Resources page.

 

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This post is a Teachable Moment in the News.

 

Photo Caption (click on image for zoom): Image taken September 29, 2009, by the MESSENGER spacecraft’s Narrow Angle Camera,15,400 km (9,600 miles) above the planet’s surface. The double-ring impact basin is approximately 100 miles (160 km) in diameter, with another large impact crater on its south-southwestern side. The image and caption was prepared by MESSENGER Educator Fellows Christina Dorr (Hilliard City School District, Hilliard, OH) and Julie Taylor (Adelanto School District, Adelanto, CA), at the MESSENGER Science Operations Center.

 

 

The September 2009 MESSENGER Special Post at Blog on the Universe, with live Web 2.0 coverage of the spacecraft’s third flyby of Mercury on September 29, generated significant interest in the NASA MESSENGER mission. Teachers and their classes were following along and posing questions to the six Voices of Mission Control via Twitter and email. I’ve created this page to provide ongoing MESSENGER mission updates through the date of orbital insertion on March 18, 2011.

 

Below you will find the Updates Archive. Also below are Blue Titled sections that provide an overview of the tense time in Mission Control when the signal from the spacecraft was unexpectedly lost during close approach on September 29, and a Twitter archive for the Voices of Mission Control—captured live during the flyby—so you can relive the experience.

 

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Witness History: As MESSENGER Speeds by the Planet, See Mercury Before Sunrise! September 29 to October 1, 2009

 Posted by DrJeff on September 28th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Mercury Sky
This post is a Teachable Moment in the News.

 

Given the BotU Special Post for the MESSENGER Flyby, I thought this would be a great supplemental post.

 

Some Cool Background

Imagine you’re looking at a bug flying around an outdoor light bulb at night. Let’s say you’re looking at it from a distance which is always greater than the distance the bug is from the bulb. Wow. It’s a really interesting bug you’ve never seen before, and you want to share the experience with a friend, or (in my case) your son or daughter. I might say “Hey Jordi! Check out this really cool bug!” He’d say, “Daddy, where??” Ok, now I’ve got to tell him where to look. What would you say? How about: “over there, near that light bulb.”

 

Well this is EXACTLY the situation with the planet Mercury for earthbound observers. Mercury is orbiting the Sun and we’re looking at it from Earth, which is at a greater distance from the Sun than Mercury is from the Sun.

 

So if you want to see Mercury in your sky, you need to look … near the Sun. Anybody see a problem with that? The Sun is a pretty high wattage light bulb, and if it’s up in the sky, you’re not going to see Mercury or the stars for that matter. They’re up there with the Sun but their light is absolutely swamped by the sunlight illuminating our atmosphere.

 

Just so you know, the Sun light bulb is General Electric model #big01bertha, and its wattage is 383,900,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Watts. It is also guaranteed for another nearly 5 billion years of operation. Handle with care.

 

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SPECIAL POST: The Flight of MESSENGER to Mercury: Live Web 2.0 Coverage of the Final Flyby on September 29, 2009

 Posted by DrJeff on September 18th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

NEWS: For continued coverage of the MESSENGER mission through orbital insertion on March 18, 2011, please visit the MESSENGER Updates page on this blog.

 

 

Quick Navigation for this BotU Special Post

Click on Main Page to Ensure You’re at Special Post, not Blog Home Page


Sub-pages:

1. Schedule for MESSENGER Flyby Events and Web 2.0 Live Coverage

2. Ideas for Lessons in the Classroom, and Educational Resources

for leveraging the live events into a broader science education experience

3. The Mission Scientists, the Voices of Mission Control, and their Links

4. How to Participate—It’s Easy even if you have Twitter & Facebook blocked

5. Witness History: See Mercury Before Sunrise! Sept 29-Oct 1, 2009


MercuryImage

Photo caption: Part of Mercury’s never before seen surface, from MESSENGER spacecraft data obtained during the first flyby on January 14, 2008. Read the story behind this imageYou want to see spectacular? Click on the image.

Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/Arizona State University, 2008.

 

Every so often an upcoming event is compelling enough for me to put up a dedicated Special Post at Blog on the Universe. A good example is the Apollo 11 40th anniversary. Given my involvement for the last 10 years with the MESSENGER mission, I decided the upcoming encounter deserved a Special Post. The goal is to help facilitate public engagement with the event, and point followers of this Blog to the official web sites and relevant resources. I have also provided my own thoughts on MESSENGER. This post is a Teachable Moment in the News.

 

 

It is a historic mission to another world. It marks a dramatic end to the human race’s initial reconnaissance of the eight planets of our Solar System, and the beginning of detailed study of Mercury.

 

On September 29, 2009, at 5:55 pm EDT, the MESSENGER spacecraft will conduct the last of three flybys of the planet. Each flyby is gravitationally modifying the spacecraft’s orbit around the Sun to ready it for orbital insertion around Mercury on March 18, 2011. On September 29 through October 1, live Web 2.0 coverage from mission control at the Applied Physics Laboratory in Columbia, Maryland, will allow teachers, their students, and the public to experience this mission milestone, and through social networks … ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE in this great adventure. There will be 7 Voices of Mission Control—MESSENGER Educator Fellows and MESSENGER Education Team members—covering the flyby in real time on Twitter and Facebook. They will be able to interact with all of you through engaging conversations, and will answer your questions. Four MESSENGER Mission Scientists will be teaming with the Voices of Mission Control throughout the live coverage. Our goal is to capture the experiences and excitement of the events as they unfold, and to tell this very human story of exploration. We want to help inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers, and promote scientists and engineers as heroes and role models to our children. We want to help teachers engage their students with a behind-the-scenes look at REAL science and engineering, and in this very moment of history.

 

Inspire … Then Educate: A Broader Commitment to Education

At this Special Post, I’ve also put together a sub-page that can serve as a one-stop-shop for information on MESSENGER and the science objectives for the flyby, and lists of activities, lessons, and educational resources. It’s meant to help you place the live coverage within a broader, richer science education experience that grows from National Science Education Standards, and offers deep curricular connections in the earth and space sciences. The idea is to inspire …then educate. The historic event provides the inspiration, and the resources leverage discussions on the nature of exploration, the nature of the Solar System, and MESSENGER and its mission at Mercury. Isn’t this precisely the curricular landscape in which MESSENGER resides?

 

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THE SOLUTION TO Weekly Challenge 5: Dr. Jeff’s Interplanetary Travel Agency

 Posted by DrJeff on August 7th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Read Original Challenge HERE.

gpw-20061021-NASA-AS11-44-6642-half-illuminated-Earth-Apollo-11-Lunar-Module-ascends-from-Moon-surface-Apollo-XI-mission-July-21-1969-medium

This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge.

 

Nice to see you again! Now that you’re back from your interplanetary romp through the Solar System, let’s see those cool photographs you took for the Dr. Jeff’s Interplanetary Travel Agency tour brochure.

 

[Hmmm …. silence.] You there?? Earth to my contracted photographer, you seem to be processing all this a bit slowly. I suspect you’re suffering from ‘rocket lag’. It’s perfectly understandable after traveling over 10 billion miles and visiting 7 worlds. I don’t think any photographer has ever been this dedicated. You’re clearly worth more than I’m paying you. So take a load off, and first re-read Weekly Challenge 5 to get back up to speed.

 

And now the answers—


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An Apollo 11 Personal Story

 Posted by DrJeff on July 16th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

279739main_moonwalk_lg

This post is a Teachable Moment in the News.


Photo caption: Buzz Aldrin on the Moon. Photo by Neil Armstrong.

 

I think it was August 1998. I got a call from Gina Ross, the principal of Buzz Aldrin Elementary School in Reston, VA. Her teachers were about to return to school for the new academic year, and before the kids returned she wanted me to come and visit. My mission? To inspire her teaching staff with an inter-disciplinary talk on the nature of human exploration, what we as a species of explorers are capable of achieving when we put our minds to it, and that teachers and parents are the link that binds each generation to the next, allowing us personally and collectively to aspire to new heights.

 

The presentation was going well. They were with me, and I could see them getting energized for the new year. Midway through, I was telling them about how I was inspired to be a space explorer when I was just 11. It was one of those singular moments that changes us forever. I was watching a black and white television and on the screen were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking around … on the Moon! You just have to step back from that sentence and let it soak in.

 

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Weekly Challenge 5: Dr. Jeff’s Interplanetary Travel Agency

 Posted by DrJeff on July 13th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Apollo--Apollo-module-orb-002

This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge.

 

Photo caption: Photograph by Michael Collins in Apollo 11 command module Columbia, as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin return from the lunar surface in Eagle. With the exception of Michael Collins, the entire human race is in the picture. It happened almost exactly 40 years ago. Eagle blasted off from the surface at 1:54:00 pm EDT, July 21, 1969.

 

I decided to start a new business. I know space flight for us average folk is just around the corner. As a shrewd business person (hah) I recognize the market potential for interplanetary vacation travel. So I’m therefore happy to report that I’ve just established my new company—Dr. Jeff’s Interplanetary Travel Agency, LLC, and I need some help from you all in designing my marketing material. I’m thinking images of alien vistas is the way to really entice clients.

 

Last night I happened to look up at the Moon as it was rising above the trees (read why HERE) ,and I thought to myself “Wow! If I didn’t live on Earth, a picture of that would certainly make me want to visit Earth!”

 

So I started imagining the view from the surface of other worlds. In particular, I’m thinking of a tour package to moons of some of the planets, with stays at the Best Western Satellite Hotels, each located a comfortable distance from the regional spaceport. (Sorry, the Four Seasons and Hilton Hotels only wanted to build on the planets.)

 

I’m hiring you as my interplanetary photographer. I’d like you to travel to some moons and get me some cool pictures for my brochure. For each shot, I’d like something comparable to what I saw when I looked at the full Moon from Earth.

 

Here now the Challenge—

 

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THE SOLUTION TO Weekly Challenge 4: You Want Me to Do What With a Bathroom Scale?

 Posted by DrJeff on July 8th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Read Original Challenge HERE.

For Post

This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge and a Teachable Moment in the News.

 

Ok, I know you’ve been perplexed for a week. You’ve been patiently waiting for me to read my bathroom scale on top of my 210 mile high mountain that apparently even the U.S. Geological Survey knows nothing about (I checked at their web site.) Wait! You say you have no clue what I’m talking about?? Hey, you’ve got to read Weekly Challege 4 FIRST! None of this lazy stuff going right to the answer.

 

Go read Weekly Challenge 4, think about it for a while, and come back. I’ll wait right here for you.

 

And now the answer—


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