NASA scientists have found that when it comes to teaching educators about volcanoes in the solar system, there's no place like Jupiter's fiery moon Io -- except for Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
With its blasting geysers and bubbling thermal vents, "it's almost like being there," said Leslie Lowes of JPL, lead outreach coordinator for NASA's Galileo mission studying Jupiter and its moons. "Yellowstone is the closest we can come to taking teachers to Io without actually putting them on a spacecraft."
About a dozen educators, escorted by Lowes and two JPL scientists, Drs. Rosaly Lopes-Gautier and Bill Smythe, will travel to Yellowstone from September 23 through 25 for a workshop on Io, the most volcanic body in the solar system. Once they learn about Io and volcanism in our solar system, they'll hold teacher-training workshops in their own communities.
The event is particularly timely because NASA's Galileo spacecraft is gearing up for two close flybys of Io on October 10 and November 25. During the flybys, Galileo's onboard camera will snap the closest, highest-resolution pictures ever taken of Io.
These daring flyby adventures have their risks, because Io's orbit is located in a region brimming with radiation from Jupiter. The Galileo flight team is trying to prepare for any problems that may pop up when the radiation bombards the spacecraft's instruments and computer systems.
Attending the Yellowstone workshop, coordinated by the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, Alexandria, VA, are Galileo Educator Fellows, who have spent the past year-and-a- half helping teachers understand the mission's discoveries and demonstrating related classroom activities.
In addition to the Yellowstone workshop, several other events are planned for educators who want to learn more about Io and the upcoming Galileo encounters:
- Educator fellows will share the knowledge gained during the Yellowstone event with the educational community at workshops in the United States and Canada. These events will be held on November 3, February 2 and March 1 in the Orlando Science Center, Orlando, FL; October 2 and 9 and November 11 in River Grove, IL, at the Cernan Earth and Space Center; October 13 and November 22 and 30 in Saint Louis, MO schools; October 22 in Wayzata, MN, at the Wayzata High School; December 13 at Concord, NH at the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium; on October 29 at a Lubbock, TX teachers' conference; and on November 7 at a science teachers' conference in Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada.
- Regional National Science Teachers Association conferences will feature special Io presentations by educator fellows. Dates include October 22 in Detroit, MI, December 3 in Reno, NV, and December 13 in Concord, MA.
- Lowes will present the latest findings from Galileo at the California Science Teachers Association meeting on October 9 in Long Beach, CA. The event will also feature an all-day showcase of space missions from JPL and NASA's Ames Research Center.
- Some 225 educators for grades 7-12 will attend an all-day workshop, "Volcanoes in the Solar System," at JPL on November 12. The event will cover volcanoes on Io, Earth, and Mars. Registration deadline is September 24.
The Galileo spacecraft has been orbiting Jupiter and its moons for nearly four years. More information on the Galileo mission and the workshops is available at: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/galileo
JPL manages the Galileo mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.
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