Release 880 of 1,073

For First Time Ever, K-12 Students Get Hands on the Hubble Space Telescope as Part of Innovative "Passport to Knowledge" Project

Release date: Feb 12, 1996 12:00 AM (EST)

The planets Neptune and Pluto have been selected as targets for original observations by students who will soon be serving as Hubble Space Telescope (HST) "Co-Investigators", working alongside some of America's foremost astronomers.

In Spring 1996, for the first time ever, students in grades K-12 will have a chance to help do real science using the HST. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), which oversees Hubble's science program for NASA and the European Space Agency, contributed three HST orbits to the PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE educational project for this purpose.

The Full Story
Release date: Feb 12, 1996
For First Time Ever, K-12 Students Get Hands on the Hubble Space Telescope as Part of Innovative "Passport to Knowledge" Project

The planets Neptune and Pluto have been selected as targets for original observations by students who will soon be serving as Hubble Space Telescope (HST) "Co-Investigators", working alongside some of America's foremost astronomers.

In Spring 1996, for the first time ever, students in grades K-12 will have a chance to help do real science using the HST. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), which oversees Hubble's science program for NASA and the European Space Agency, contributed three HST orbits to the PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE educational project for this purpose.

The observing time was offered for student investigations of one or two of the following planets: Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune or Pluto. Students were challenged to go online to research the planets and to help decide which would be best to study. The resulting observations will be featured in a live, interactive telecast, "Live from the Hubble Space Telescope", to be seen on public television and NASA-TV in March.

To help students pick their planets, "Planet Advocates" (P.A.s) and staff astronomers from STScI - a member of the "Live from the Hubble Space Telescope" development team - participated in an electronic "Great Planet Debate". The world-class astronomers who served as "P.A.s" offered expert advice online and responded to student questions and comments. The "P.A.s" were: Reta Beebe, New Mexico State University - Jupiter, Carolyn Porco, University of Arizona - Uranus, Heidi Hammel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Neptune, and Marc Buie, Lowell Observatory - Pluto.

A lively discussion took place over the Internet throughout November and December 1995. Students without classroom access participated from home computers, or via local planetariums and science museums. Teachers reported that the "junior" P.A.s responded enthusiastically to the debate and endorsed not only the eventual consensus decision - all student participants were "winners" - but also the unprecedented collaborative process for reaching that decision. The debate resulted in the decision that the student Co-Investigators will use two of their HST orbits to study Neptune and its swiftly-changing cloud patterns, and one to study Pluto, the only planet in our solar system not visited - so far - by any spacecraft from Earth.

In addition, as a bonus in recognition of the hard work students put in, Prof. Reta Beebe offered to "loan" students a fourth orbit, for observations of Jupiter and its turbulent clouds. This orbit is part of time already allocated to Beebe in February 1996 to help track the place where the Galileo spacecraft's probe plunged into Jupiter's atmosphere. Beebe advised students that if they can develop a good proposal, then she will "share" one of her orbits with them, and help them analyze the data.

Says Dr. Anne Kinney, STScI Project Scientist for Education, "I would be very happy if the students had a feeling that they were the scientists. I would be very happy if they had a lot of unanswered questions. In other words, a desired outcome would be students clamoring to use the Internet for research, and to communicate directly with working scientists.

Currently, STScI mission planners will transform the students' decision into detailed plans for the HST observations. Internet reports will follow this process and provide a peek behind the scenes. Student interactions with Space Telescope staff will be enabled using E-mail, and online chat, and network videoconferencing. Also, teachers will form an online community, together helping one another transform classrooms with this new style of curriculum.

"Live from the Hubble Space Telescope" is part of the ongoing PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE series, developed by Geoff Haines-Stiles Productions, Inc. Like the two previous projects, "Live from Antarctica" and "Live from the Stratosphere", "Live from the Hubble Space Telescope" will provide low- or no-cost access to "real science, real scientists, real locations, real-time" by using integrated multimedia components - print, online and live video.

PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE is supported, in part, by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation and public television. "Live from the Hubble Space Telescope" is also made possible by the special cooperation of NASA's Astrophysics Division and STScI.

"Live from the Hubble Space Telescope: Making YOUR Observations" will air at 13:00 Eastern, March 14, 1996. The program will be broadcast live from NASA's Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD and Goddard Space Flight Center's Space Telescope Operations Control Center (STOCC) in Greenbelt, MD. The STOCC is the nerve center for Hubble; all commands to the Space Telescope are issued from the facility, and all data collected by the observatory arrive there first. STScI and Goddard scientists, engineers, technicians and managers are ready to answer questions about HST posed to them over the Internet by students.

"Live from the Hubble Space Telescope: Announcing YOUR Results" will air at 13:00 Eastern, April 23, 1996, during NSF's National Science and Technology Week, and 3 days after National Astronomy Day (April 20, 1996).

CHECK LOCAL LISTINGS for both public television and NASA-TV carriage!

For more information, access the project's Home Page on the World Wide Web at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/livefrom/hst.html, or send e-mail to: listmanager@quest.arc.nasa.gov and in the message body write: subscribe updates-hst or check the project "Information Hotline", 1-800-626-LIVE (626-5483) or call (908) 273-4108 (attention: Geoff Haines-Stiles or Erna Akuginow).