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The Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Education and Communications portfolio includes products, events, and programs aligned with priority areas identified by the federal Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education (CoSTEM). This portfolio of activities engages audiences in the story, the science, and the adventure of NASA's scientific explorations of our home planet, the solar system, and the universe beyond.

This Projects Tab contains links to individual project descriptions, including overviews, audiences served, reports, evaluation information, contact information, websites, and other features, organized by CoSTEM goals. The list of projects can be narrowed using the filters on the left sidebar. Click on a project’s name to view details. View activities that have been completed.

These projects are applicable to Graduate Education

Youth and Public Engagement
Undergraduate Student Experiences
Working with Diverse Audiences
New Horizons: Student Dust Counter (SDC) Web Site - (2.3.22)

In addition to the students who created the instrument, the SDC’s own education and outreach team maintain a Web site that features the inside story of the instrument’s development and video interviews with team members. The SDC project is blazing a trail for future student-built instruments.  (

New Horizons: Student Dust Counter Instrument and Program (K-12 and Undergraduate)

The Student Dust Counter (SDC) is a 20-year homework assignment, but you won’t hear any complaints from the students handed the task. Designed by students at the University of Colorado at Boulder, SDC is detecting dust grains produced by collisions among asteroids, comets, and Kuiper Belt objects during New Horizons’ journey. It is the first science instrument on a NASA planetary mission to be designed, built, and “flown” by students.  With faculty supervision, the students also are distributing and archiving data from the instrument and lead a comprehensive education and outreach effort to bring their results and experiences to classrooms of all grades over the next decade.

NLSI: NASA Academy NLSI Fellowship

NLSI supported the NASA Ames Academy through support of a student in addition to support of their summer project of lunar dust and biological systems interactions.  The undergraduate or graduate students spends 10 weeks at NASA Ames working alongside an ARC scientist. They are exposed to research at three other NASA centers (KSC, DFRC, JPL) and a wide variety of other research and commercial institutions (e.g. Desert Research Institute, Space Systems Loral, SpaceX).  The summer additionally included leadership training, team building exercises and approximately 20 seminars in order to expand their horizons and expose them to the whole space community. 

Planetary Science Summer School

Planetary Science Summer School (PSSS).  PSSS prepares the next generation of engineers and scientists to participate in future solar system exploration missions. Participants are highly qualified science and engineering post-docs, recent PhDs, and doctoral students with a strong interest in planetary exploration.  Through preparatory webinars and a one-week experience at JPL with Team X mentors, students develop a mission concept and present it to a "review board" of JPL scientists and engineers and NASA HQ executives.  Students learn the mission life cycle, roles of scientists and engineers in a mission environment, mission design interconnectedness and trade-offs, and the importance of teamwork.  2 sessions of approximately 18 students each are held in the summer.