Category Archives: Space Science

Titan & Europa essay contest – Grades 5-12

Here’s a message from the  Titan and Icy Worlds  Education and Public Outreach Teams at NASA JPL:

Dear Teachers and Students,

NASA is holding an essay contest about Saturn’s moon Titan & Jupiter’s moon Europa for students in the United States in grades 5-12.

.The contest deadline is February 28, 2013.  The contest website is here:

Questions about the Titan & Europa essay contest can be sent to:

The topic of the Titan & Europa essay is either a mission to Saturn’s moon Titan or to Jupiter’s moon Europa. Both of these missions would study a world that is exciting for astrobiologists(*).Your assignment is to decide which of the proposed missions would be more interesting to you, and why. Be creative, be original, and ask good questions that you hope the mission would answer.

The Titan mission would include a Titan orbiter and a Titan balloon. The Europa mission would include a Europa orbiter and a Europa lander. The orbiters, balloon, and lander would each have science instruments to study either Titan or Europa.

In your essay, you can include information about what science instruments you would put on the orbiter and balloon or lander, if you wish, based on what you hope to find on Titan or Europa.

Winning essays will be posted on a NASA website, and winners and their classes will be invited to participate in a videoconference or teleconference with NASA scientists.

Contest videos about Astrobiology, Titan, and Europa can be found here:

(*) Astrobiologists are scientists who study the origins, evolution, future and distribution of life in the universe. The main question astrobiologists are trying to answer is: “Is there life beyond Earth?”

Good luck!

Best wishes,
The Titan and Icy Worlds NASA Astrobiology Institute Education and Public Outreach Teams

Asteroid 2012-DA14 to pass earth closer than GEO-sats

NASA’s ScienceCast program reports on the upcoming close fly-by of asteroid 2012-DA14:

On Feb. 15th an asteroid about half the size of a football field will fly past Earth closer than many man-made satellites. Since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s, astronomers have never seen an object so big come so close to our planet.

More at Near-Earth Asteroid 2012 DA14 to make extremely close approach in February 2013 – The Watchers – Aug.22.12.

Curiosity takes some nighttime pictures

The Curiosity rover on Mars has taken some pictures at night time of Martian rock using the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of the robotic arm and with both whitelight and UV illumination: Mars Rover Curiosity Uses Arm Camera At Night – Mars Science Laboratory/JPL

MAHLI’s First Night Imaging of Martian Rock, White Lighting:

First Night Imaging of Martian Rock, White Lighting

MAHLI’s First Night Imaging of Martian Rock Under Ultraviolet Lighting:

First Night Imaging of Martian Rock Under Ultraviolet Lighting