In Nature!

July 5, 2011

Check out today’s article in Nature online, and Wednesday in the print version of Nature:  NASA faces dearth of mission leaders, by Eric Hand.

That article, my friends, discusses my poster at last week’s science conference.  I had to wait until it was published to tell you!


One last bit, and then —

July 4, 2011

… one last bit about the conference.  Or actually, an MSNBC.com link about the conference, called “Space on a Budget Balances Risk and Innovation.”  It gives a nice overview of our panel on the last day.  I don’t have a picture of us on the panel (wish I did), but imagine me in a snazzy suit jacket (yes, the same one I wore the next day to Type A Mom) at a table with my old boss, now a manager at Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Laboratory; the head of Aerospace Corp’s NASA business; and the head of the Space Science Review Office at NASA Langley.  We each gave 5-10 minutes about the challenges facing small planetary missions, and then we answered questions from the audience.

I went first.  I was asked to give an overview of the history of the program, and I did, including several observations about challenges that have faced missions and the program itself, and three things I find challenging today.  It went really well — so well, in fact, that the moderator responded by saying that my upcoming book “should be required reading” for people interested in planetary missions!

I’ll take that!

Now all I have to do is finish editing it into something that is as much a joy to read as it has been for me to research and write!

Tomorrow: Type A Mom, Bloganthropy, and a dress made out of stars.


NASA Open House

May 13, 2011

Looking for something to do in the LA or DC areas this weekend?  Check out the NASA Open Houses in at least two areas across the country!  For West Coasters, there’s the JPL Open House in Pasadena, CA.  East Coasters, how about the GSFC Open House in Greenbelt, MD.  Both are free and open to the public — and a fantastic opportunity to get a peek into the nation’s space program!  Live farther away (like Australia or New Zealand)?  You can still take a peek at the latest news about our solar system AND a page of fun for kids at NASA’s Solar System Exploration page (also on Facebook).

Have fun!


Meet the Planets (with giveaway!)

April 28, 2011

Meet The Planets, by John McGranaghan, is a beautiful way to introduce your kid (or your kid’s classroom) to our solar system!  The style is casual and conversational, with Pluto as the host of a game show-like Favorite Planet Competition.  The illustrations, by Laurie Allen Klein, are intricately detailed and simply gorgeous, with so much more than the planets themselves illustrated — each page also includes depictions of spacecraft visiting the planets and an audience of astronomers, moons, and constellation imagery.  The book is great as an on-your-own exploration or an engaging read-aloud for younger kids.  We’ve had our copy for a few days, and my kindergartner has picked it up to investigate on his own again and again.

A helpful appendix includes six pages of learning activities, not unlike the ones in the Tag books for little ones, but these much more intricately detailed, teaching science, math, technology, and education (STEM) skills like collecting data, working with time and temperature, comparing the length of a day and a year for the planets, working with large numbers (up to 4.5 billion km, the average distance from the Sun to Neptune), images to explore (from Stonehenge to Cassini), and a true/false quiz based on facts introduced earlier in the book.  The activities are supplemented with additional free activities that anyone can download.

This book is a lot of fun, with beautiful illustrations and a concept that doesn’t leave poor little Pluto out in the cold.  Well, not any colder than he already is! 

Full disclosure: C and I reviewed this book for scientific accuracy; we’re credited on the flap, but we received no financial compensation for the work or for this post.  I did receive a couple copies to use or give away —

If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Meet the Planets, just leave a comment below.  For extra entries, “like” Toddler Planet and/or Women in Planetary Science on Facebook, and leave another comment telling me that you’ve done so!  I’ll use random.org to select the winner and mail the books at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3.