Posts Tagged ‘space’

Exploring the International Space Station Library

It’s not unusual to think of books and other types of media when discussing libraries, but we usually don’t associate floating in space with the word library (although you may if you’re deep in your imagination…but I digress.) Believe it or not, there’s an informal library of books and media on the International Space Station, much of which was left by astronauts. While it isn’t huge, it has continued to grow over the years. To illustrate what media you may find aboard the International Space Station, I’ve made an infographic. Thanks to a couple of Freedom of Information Act requests listed in the sources section of the infographic, some details about the number and types of materials on board were found.

And for more information on the International Space Station, visit the SIRS Issues Researcher Leading Issue page which highlights invaluable resources and editorially selected articles to help students debate and discuss the International Space Station both in the classroom and outside it.

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New Leading Issue: Private Space Sector

Private Space Sector Leading Issue via SIRS Issues Researcher

SIRS Issues Researcher’s new Leading Issue: Private Space Sector is out of this world!

The future of space travel is taking off with private companies. This action-packed Leading Issue will help students explore how the private sector is launching reusable rockets, hauling cargo to the International Space Station, and providing useful services to NASA. The private sector also wants to make space tourism happen by 2020.

Students don’t have to wait until college and career to gain experience with space science! Besides delving into the Private Space Sector Leading Issue, students can also learn about the space industry through hands-on experience. Explore the links below for opportunities for students to gain knowledge and experience with NASA and private sector programs.


NASA Programs:

  •  NASA Education’s page includes a wealth of knowledge for students and teachers through STEM education. Guidance for education includes an A-Z list of projects, design challenges, and opportunities for students to interact with NASA.
  • Current Opportunities for Students is also included in the NASA Education website. This page provides webcasts, contests, and lectures. It also lists scholarship and intern possibilities.
  • United Launch Alliance provides cost-effective launch services for NASA. They also provide an educational page on their website dedicated to students with rocket terminology and fun facts. Students can register to compete for a CubeSat satellite launch or look into the Intern Rocket Program.
  • Student Launch is a competitive rocket launching competition designed for students to learn the importance of teamwork while building a cost-effective reusable rocket. This NASA-conducted engineering design challenge provides resources and experiences for students and teachers.
  • SystemsGo is a NASA-endorsed program that helps students design rockets using STEM and teamwork. The site offers everything from educational video resources, launch events, and even how to start an aerospace program at school.
High school students from Texas participating in the SystemsGo aeroscience engineering program launch rockets in Willow City, Texas.

High school students from Texas participating in the SystemsGo aeroscience engineering program launch rockets in Willow City, Texas. Image via Ralph Arvesen on Flickr.


Private Sector Programs:

  • SpaceX‘s FIRST program awards students with scholarships as well as a chance for 10-15 high school seniors to become interns. Other programs include building and battling robotics for older students and a LEGO robot challenge for kids ages 9-14.
  • Virgin Galactic offers a Global Scholarship and Mentoring Program for students interested in STEM education.
  • Blue Origin offers an Astronaut Experience. Sign up for an experience on the New Shepard space vehicle.

How are your students exploring space science? Drop us a line in the comments section below or Tweet us at #ProQuest!

The Brightest Supernova Ever Seen!

Supernova Research Topic

Supernova Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Admittedly, it is hard to think of something that happened 2.8-billion years ago as “Breaking News,” but that is what astronomers are calling ASASSN-15lh. In May 2015, a new light source appeared in the skies in the Southern Hemisphere. A new supernova (ASASSN-15lh) was found as part of the All Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae in Cerro Tololo, Chile. Astronomers believe that this is the most luminous supernova ever observed. In fact, it is so bright that it shines with the luminosity of 572 billion suns. That’s billion with a “B.” ASASSN-15lh is an exploding star that belongs to the “superluminous” class which has luminosities 10 to 100 times that of normal supernovae. A few dozen of these enormous blasts have been spotted in the past decade, but this “new” one is about twice as bright as any of them. It appears just off the Tucana constellation in the southern sky, so you have to be in the Southern Hemisphere to see it.

Will our Sun go supernova some day?

The Sun Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

A new star being formed or the remains of a supernova?

Nebula Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary










In the year 1006, Earthlings were startled to see a supernova with the naked eye – an exploding star so bright that it could be seen during the daytime. But don’t go out looking for ASASSN-15lh with just a pair of binoculars; this supernova is so many light years away it can only be seen with the assistance of a very large telescope.

You can search for supernovas and other out-of-this-world topics in eLibrary.

Here are just a few of our Space-related resources:

Astronomy (Magazine)

Astrophysics (Research Topic)

Cosmology (Research Topic)

DK Eyewitness Space Exploration (Reference Book)

Galaxies (Research Topic)

Johannes Kepler & the New Astronomy (Book)

Observatories (Research Topic)

Solar System (Research Topic )

Topic Browse for Astronomy


Pluto Officially Named on March 24, 1930

2005 NASA Photo of Pluto and its satellites

Pluto and Its Moons
Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

Poor Pluto. Imagine being a planet for 76 years and then all-of-a sudden finding yourself relegated to the status of just another “dwarf planet” or “plutoid” in the Kuiper Belt. Well, that’s what you get for being 4.7-billion miles away from the decision makers.

Pluto was officially named on this day (March 24) in 1930 after being discovered by Clyde W. Tombaugh on February 18 of that same year. The path toward its discovery is credited to Percival Lowell who founded the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona and funded three separate searches for the elusive “Planet X.”

The name Pluto, after the god of the underworld, was suggested by young Venetia Burney, an 11-year-old schoolgirl in Oxford, England, who was interested in classical mythology. The moniker was soon embraced by wider culture. Walt Disney was apparently inspired by Tombaugh’s discovery when he introduced Mickey Mouse’s canine companion Pluto in the cartoon “The Chain Gang” in 1930.

Discovered Pluto in 1930

Clyde W. Tombaugh
Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

1914 Photo of Percival Lowell

Percival Lowell at the Lowell Observatory
Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]








From the time of its discovery in 1930 to 2006, Pluto was considered to be the ninth planet in our solar system, but because additional (and larger) objects have been discovered, the International Astronomical Union reclassified Pluto and the other objects as dwarf planets. (Pluto will always be a planet to me!)

Pluto is usually farther from the Sun than any of the eight planets; however, due to the eccentricity of its orbit, it is closer than Neptune for 20 years out of its 249-year orbit. On July 14, 2015, the Pluto system is due to be visited by a spacecraft for the first time. NASA’s New Horizons probe will perform a flyby during which it will attempt to take detailed measurements and images of Pluto and its moons.

You can read all about Pluto and other closer (or more distant) objects by searching eLibrary’s list of Research Topics or by searching Magazines, Encyclopedias and Multimedia.

Keep your eyes on the skies.

Here are just a few eLibrary  space-related Research Topics & publications:

Astronomy Magazine                    Astronomy Research Topic

DK Eyewitness Space                   Earth Research Topic

The Moon                                         Observatories Research Topic

Pluto Loses Planetary Status       Space Exploration Research Topic

Stars Research Topic                     Telescope Encyclopedia Article



50 Years Since the First Spacewalk

Photo credit: Ed White First American Spacewalker via photopin (license)

Ed White First American Spacewalker
Photo credit: NASA on The Commons via photopin (license)

The 1960s were successful years for NASA and space exploration in general. With the exciting notion of sending humans into the vast unknown and sharing live broadcasts via television, space became a wondrous and tangible reality. Americans welcomed space travel and the endless possibilities, but Americans were not the only ones interested in leading the “Space Race.” On March 18, 1965, Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov did something groundbreaking. He became the first person ever to spacewalk. This milestone paved the way for others to exit their capsules once in space and roam without the confines of a spacecraft. Kathryn Sullivan, the first woman to walk in space, likened spacewalking to swimming. Underwater training thus proved helpful to astronauts before traveling to space. During the height of the space program, astronauts achieved many feats with Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon being a major accomplishment. Nonetheless, spacewalking opened the door 50 years ago and transformed the way space is explored.

Take some time this month to appreciate the 50th anniversary of the first spacewalk with a lesson centered on space exploration. ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher has got you covered with three main Leading Issues on Space Exploration & Travel, Space Missions and Space Vehicles. With SIRS Leading Issues, you can rest assured that important features including Topic Overviews and Essential Questions, Terms to Know and the accompanying Critical Thinking & Analysis questions are all editorially crafted to your needs as well as your students. Our Common Core guide for Understanding Primary Sources would also be a helpful supplement to any lesson, especially one focused on space.

ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher Leading Issue on Space Exploration & Travel

ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher Leading Issue on Space Exploration & Travel

How will you explore space? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest.