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Calling All Students: NASA Seeks Help Naming Spacecraft

We get a ton of notices about various contests and competitions here at Curriculum Matters, far more than we could ever write about. (And we'll probably get still more after I post this!) Most of the time, we take a pass, but today I'm making an exception.

Grail launch_Blog.jpg

NASA needs help renaming two robotic spacecraft heading into orbit around the moon. And it's looking for suggestions from students in grades K-12.

Entries must be submitted by teachers using an online entry form by Nov. 11. The final round of judging to pick the names will be chaired by former astronaut Sally Ride and Maria Zuber, a researcher from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

NASA's solar-powered Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL)-A and GRAIL-B vessels lifted off from Cape Canaveral last month for a three-an-a-half month journey to the moon, according to a NASA press release. The two ships will create a gravity map of the moon.

"The mission will enable scientists to learn about the moon's internal structure and composition, and give scientists a better understanding of its origin," the press release explains.

"A NASA mission to the moon is one of the reasons I am a scientist today," said GRAIL Principal Investigator Maria Zuber in the news release. "My hope is that GRAIL motivates young people today toward careers in science, math, and technology."

You can find contest rules and additional information here.

Also, I might as well use this blog post as an excuse to give another plug to a recent EdWeek story about some teachers (and yours truly) who recently got a chance to experience the weightless training astronauts undergo before heading out into space.

Photo: A Delta II rocket launches twin GRAIL spacecraft from the launch pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Sept. 10. Alex Menendez/AP

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