Learn about NASA’s upcoming missions to two asteroids and two comets

December 7, 2009 – Alexandria, VA – Join Challenger Center for Space Science Education for a live interactive webcast, Thursday December 10th at 3:00pm with John Ristvey, Principal Consultant for Education and Public Outreach for NASA’s Dawn, Stardust NExT, and EPOXI missions.

The interactive webcast is free and open to the public, and it will be broadcast live at http://www.challenger.org . Mr. Ristvey will take questions from participants about three upcoming NASA robotic missions: Dawn, which will study two of the largest asteroids in our solar system; Stardust NExT, which will make a return visit to comet Tempel-1, and EPOXI, which will visit comet Hartley 2.

The NASA Dawn mission will visit asteroids Ceres and Vesta located in the asteroid belt to help to understand the conditions at the formation of the solar system and provide data on the role of size and water in the formation of planets. The Stardust NExT mission is a follow-on mission for the Stardust spacecraft that originally returned a capsule of comet dust samples to Earth from comet Wild-2 in 2006. NASA repurposed the spacecraft to fly by comet Tempel-1 to observe a crater left over from the NASA Deep Impact mission. After completing its mission to comet Tempel-1, the Deep Impact flyby spacecraft has a new mission called EPOXI to fly by comet Hartley 2.

Ristvey works at Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) on NASA’s Dawn, EPOXI and Stardust Next missions. He is currently principal investigator for two National Science Foundation funded projects, including A Nanoleap into New Science creating activities for high school students about nanoscale science and technology. A former science teacher, Ristvey has also helped NASA to develop many K-12 instructional materials.

Challenger Center for Space Science Education is a non-profit organization founded in 1986 by the families of the astronauts tragically lost during the last flight of Challenger, Space Shuttle mission 51-L. Using space exploration as a theme, Challenger Center creates positive experiences that raise students’ expectations of success, foster a long-term interest in science, math, and technology, and inspires them to pursue studies and careers in these areas. To locate a Challenger Learning Center near you, visit http://www.challenger.org

For Challenger Center information, please contact:
Rita Karl, Director of Education
703-535-1345; rkarl@challenger.org