Space Science and Technology
|Review of the MEPAG Report on Mars Special Regions
Planetary protection is a guiding principle in the design of an interplanetary mission, aiming to prevent biological contamination of both the target celestial body and the Earth. The protection of high-priority science goals, the search for life and the understanding of the Martian organic environment may be compromised if Earth microbes carried by spacecraft are grown and spread on Mars. This has led to the definition of Special Regions on Mars where strict planetary protection measures have to be applied before a spacecraft can enter these areas.
At NASA's request, the community-based Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG) established the Special Regions Science Analysis Group (SR-SAG2) in October 2013 to examine the quantitative definition of a Special Region and proposed modifications to it, as necessary, based upon the latest scientific results. Review of the MEPAG Report on Mars Special Regions reviews the conclusions and recommendations contained in MEPAG's SR-SAG2 report and assesses their consistency with current understanding of both the Martian environment and the physical and chemical limits for the survival and propagation of microbial and other life on Earth. This report provides recommendations for an update of the planetary protection requirements for Mars Special Regions.
|Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education: A Workshop Summary
On December 2-3, 2014, the Space Studies Board and the Board on Science Education of the National Research Council held a workshop on the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) education program - "Sharing the Adventure with the Student." The workshop brought together representatives of the space science and science education communities to discuss maximizing the effectiveness of the transfer of knowledge from the scientists supported by NASA's SMD to K-12 students directly and to teachers and informal educators. The workshop focused not only on the effectiveness of recent models for transferring science content and scientific practices to students, but also served as a venue for dialogue between education specialists, education staff from NASA and other agencies, space scientists and engineers, and science content generators. Workshop participants reviewed case studies of scientists or engineers who were able to successfully translate their research results and research experiences into formal and informal student science learning. Education specialists shared how science can be translated to education materials and directly to students, and teachers shared their experiences of space science in their classrooms. Sharing the Adventure with the Student is the summary of the presentation and discussions of the workshop.