Scientists and engineers working on NASA's Galileo mission to Jupiter are sharing their diaries and notebooks on the Internet to show students and teachers what it's like to work day to day on a planetary exploration project.
NASA's "Online from Jupiter" program, being presented for the second time on the Internet through the end of March, features journal entries from Galileo flight team members and scientists analyzing data returned daily from the Jupiter orbiter. The program, which encourages participants to "tell it like it is," has been well-received by educators and students who log on for a glimpse at the inner workings of the Galileo mission.
"Online from Jupiter has drawn a tremendous response from teachers," said Dr. Jo Pitesky, a member of the Galileo project's outreach office, who has recruited participants for the "Online" program. "The journals let the readers share the tribulations and triumphs they experience in flying the mission. The entries tend to dispel the nerdy stereotype of aerospace engineers and scientists, and de-mystifies their work," she added.
To participate, team members must meet Pitesky's requirements, which include "a sense of humor, somewhere between Dave Barry and Herman Melville." Participants include science team members located at universities and research institutions across the country.
So compelling were some of the entries that the United Kingdom's BBC Radio featured actors reading some of the first "Jupiter Online" entries on the air.
After reading background material and the journals, kindergarten through 12th grade students and teachers can ask project members questions via e-mail through April 6, and receive personal responses, corresponding with experts on subjects ranging from atmospheric science to navigation to spacecraft systems and more. An archive of all questions and answers is available online. Also featured are online activities for teachers to use in their classrooms, including an image processing exercise that allows students to examine the relative age of Europa's surface, and a contest to design a hypothetical spacecraft to explore that icy world. Last year's session drew more than 4,000 teachers across the country and outside of the U.S.
"Online from Jupiter" is the latest in a series of NASA online education initiatives that have taken students from studying the topography of Earth's oceans via the oceanographic satellite TOPEX/Poseidon to the top of the stratosphere in NASA's Kuiper Airborne Observatory as it flies at 41,000 feet. NASA is also currently hosting "Shuttle Team Online," devoted to microgravity research being conducted on the upcoming STS-83 space shuttle mission.
The NASA "Online from" programs are part of the "Sharing NASA with Our Classrooms" series, organized by the NASA K-12 Internet Initiative. It is made possible by funding from NASA's Learning Technologies program, part of the High Performance Computing and Communications program authorized by federal legislation passed in December 1991.
"Online From Jupiter" can be accessed electronically at several Internet locations:
- For Web page access: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/galileo - Via e-mail: To receive regularly updated information online, join the "updates-jup" list: Send an e-mail message to: email@example.com In the message body, write: "subscribe updates-jup". This will place you on an electronic mailing list to receive information. To receive introductory materials and other background information, send an e-mail message to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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