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April’s topic for NASA’s Year of the Solar System (YSS) – Ice!
Join us in April as we explore ice and its properties, locations, and what it tells us about the solar system. This month, we will also celebrate Earth Day on April 22!
Ice is common in our solar system, from deposits at the poles of Mercury and the Moon to ice-covered moons and rings around distant Jupiter and Saturn, and comets made of ice and other materials streaming across the spaces between. And, of course, ice is present around our own world. The NASA Cryospheric Science Missions are studying the Earth’s oceans and ice with data obtained from satellites and fieldwork. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is studying ice on Mars; the planet’s poles have abundant amounts of frozen carbon dioxide (also called dry ice). Several recent missions have studied comets, which have frozen ammonia and methane in addition to frozen water and other ices. The Cassini spacecraft is on an extended mission to study Saturn and its moons. Among the most surprising discoveries are geysers erupting on Enceladus and its effects on the Saturnian environment, giant ice ridges on Iapetus, methane ice dunes on Titian, and dynamics between mini-ice moons and Saturn's rings. One of the key objectives of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission is to map the locations and amounts of water on the Moon. It has discovered polar cold traps with low temperatures and radar data consistent with the presence of water ice in permanently shadowed regions in polar craters. The New Horizons mission is on its way to be the first spacecraft to explore the icy dwarf planet Pluto and its environment in the Kuiper Belt.
Visit the YSS website to find activities for classroom and informal learning environments to explore Ice in your programs! You will also find information about night-sky viewing events and mission milestones, recommended resources, and downloadable materials all connected to this month’s theme!
Celebrate Earth Day!
Earth Day is held annually on April 22 and is celebrated internationally with more than one billion people participating. This year’s Earth Day theme is “Mobilize the Earth.” Visit the Earth Day website for ideas on how to get involved in Earth Day, including attending an Earth Day event or organizing your own, pledging an Act of Green, or joining one of the many Earth Day campaigns, like Arts for the Earth, Athletes for the Earth, and Earth Day K-12. You can learn more about Earth Day through its Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr accounts, all available on the Earth Day homepage. Join NASA as it celebrates Earth Day by viewing our planet from space on NASA’s Earth Day website.
Get Involved! Share Your YSS Events and Stories
Are you planning to hold a celebration for Earth Day or other events in April? We need your help in spreading the excitement of the Year of the Solar System! Through the Get Involved section of the website, you can advertise your YSS Events by registering them on the YSS Calendar. Once your events are complete, be sure to share your YSS stories and pictures through the YSS story space, Flickr, and YouTube, all accessible from the Get Involved page.
This month, get involved by participating in Earth Day on April 22! Find a local Earth Day event or start your own using the buttons on the Earth Day homepage: http://www.earthday.org/2012.
Astronomy Day is also celebrated this month, on April 28. The theme of Astronomy Day is “Bringing Astronomy to the People;” astronomy and stargazing clubs and other organizations around the world will plan special events. Find out more at the Astronomy Day website: http://www.astroleague.org/content/astronomy-day-events-april-2012!
Observing Opportunities in April
Another way to get involved with YSS is to hold an observing event; April is a fantastic month for viewing objects in the night sky – several planets are easily visible! Venus and Jupiter are near each other, shining brightly in the west after sunset throughout the month, though Jupiter will be very low near the horizon at the end of April. Mars is bright in the east after sunset, gradually moving high in the sky by the end of the month. Saturn rises in the east after sunset at the beginning of the month and will be higher in the sky by the end of April. Make sure to register your event and share stories, photos, and video of the event through the Get Involved page (link above)!
Check out the YSS April “Events” tab to find more observing events and resources! http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/yss/display.cfm?Year=2012&Month=4&Tab=Events
A “Tweetable” announcement in 140 characters or less:
NASA’s Year of the Solar System April Topic is Ice! Learn about ice in the solar system at http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/yss #nasayss
Get Social with YSS
YSS is online in many places! Be sure to follow YSS announcements and happenings:
Facebook: Our Solar System
Twitter: Our Solar System
Add #nasayss to your YSS tweets!
Flickr: Our Solar System
Ideas? Feedback? Contact us!
If you have a great activity or event that involves ice, we want to know about it! Contact us through the Get Involved page or the email address above!
Link to YSS from Your Website
Promote the Year of the Solar System on your website using an embedded widget to display the YSS graphic and link to the YSS website. Go to http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/yss/embed.cfm for the widget.
You can find other YSS graphics at http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/yss/downloads.cfm.
YSS Friends and Partners Page
Let us know if you want to share YSS and be listed as a YSS Friend and Partner!
Explore the From Earth to the Solar System (FETTSS) Gallery
From Earth to the Solar System (FETTSS) is a stunning collection of high-resolution images that showcases the excitement of planetary exploration—our journey to understand the origin and evolution of the Solar System, and our search for life elsewhere. The images are at once artistic and informative, weaving together themes in astrobiology, planetary science, and astronomy. Including contributions from backyard astronomers, large telescopes in space, and even point-and-shoot cameras of field researchers, the collection represents the current state of exploration as seen through the eyes of the scientific community.
Take some time to browse the 90+ breath-taking images in the collection - created to celebrate NASA’s Year of the Solar System. You are invited to download the images that appeal to you and host an exhibit in your venue or community. Information for how to exhibit can be found at: http://fettss.arc.nasa.gov/how-exhibit/.
Sneak Peak! Upcoming in the Year of the Solar System
May’s YSS theme is New Data, New Ideas! Our understanding of the solar system is constantly changing as we make new discoveries. As robotic missions explore the solar system, they send back new data that force us to reevaluate our ideas. Visit the YSS website for May 2012 and be sure to look for next month’s newsletter for more information about this exciting topic!
Tips for Using the YSS Website
Want to find information about a previous month’s topic? Just click on the Topics link on the left sidebar, scroll through the topics until you locate the topic of interest, and click on the topic title. This will bring you to the topic’s Overview page; more in-depth information can be found by clicking on the Background tab at the top.