PART 1: Schedule for updates-lfs
PART 2: Science in the Stratosphere video program
PART 3: Connecting with other teachers
PART 4: Intro to Electronic Field trips: a tutorial for teachers
PART 5: Astronomy for the jet set; a tutorial for students
PART 6: Web registration discontinued
PART 7: Junior Reports now working
PART 8: Dr. John Davies compares the KAO to ground-based observing
PART 9: When things really didn't work out


Until now, the schedule for these updates-lfs has been somewhat
erratic. Most teachers will be better served by a regular schedule, so
for the next few weeks, you can count on an update being sent
every Tuesday and Friday. At a minimum, these messages will
contain one story about the people or events of the Kuiper Airborne
Observatory (KAO). In addition, new Live From the Stratosphere
project information will be distributed here.


The first Live From the Stratosphere (LFS) video product was
released this past week when it aired over PBS and NASA TV.
This 30-minute tape was stuffed with information which will help
teachers prepare for teaching the material to their students. If you
missed this program, you will be best served if you can catch it.

NASA TV plans to rebroadcast the show the week of September 25
according to the following schedule (all times Eastern):
Sept 25 Mon     Sept 26 Tues    Sept 27 Wed     Sept 28 Thurs
13:00-13:32     01:00-01:32     01:28-02:00     01:02-01:34
16:00-16:32     13:28-14:00     13:02-13:34
19:00-19:32     16:28-17:00     16:02-16:34
22:00-22:32     19:28-20:00     19:02-19:34
                22:28-23:00     22:02-22:34
NASA TV can be found on C-band on the Spacenet 2 satellite, 69
degrees West, transponder 5, channel 9, frequency 3880.0 Mhz,
Horizontal polarization, audio on 6.2 and 6.8. NASA TV is also
rebroadcast on many cable TV or community access stations.

This program is also available on videotape from NASA CORE for a
price of $14.50 (Ohio residents add 5.75% tax) which includes
domestic shipping. NASA CORE accepts Visa, Mastercard, school
purchase orders or checks. Contact them directly to place an order or
obtain additional information.
NASA CORE, Lorain County JVS, 15181 Route 58 South Oberlin, OH  44074
Phone: (216) 774-1051  x293/294; FAX: (216) 774-2144 FAX

Many teachers have reported frustration at their inability to receive
last week's broadcast as it aired. Based on our previous experiences,
this is not uncommon. The Live From the Stratosphere team distributes
the broadcasts nationally through satellite, but every teacher needs to
make local arrangements for receiving these broadcasts. If you plan on
viewing the television programs live or on tape, you must begin
planning how you will do this. See the previous update (LFS #9) for
hints or join the discuss-lfs list (see below) to brainstorm with
other teachers on potential solutions.


An international community of teachers who are excited about using
Live From the Stratosphere is developing. The exact number is hard to
ascertain, but one indicator is the approximately 1,100 people who are
presently subscribed to the updates-lfs list. You will be provided with
several mechanisms to connect with these people during the LFS
project. Details will be shared over the next several updates-lfs

Presently there are two ways to meet others teachers. One is through a
maillist called discuss-lfs. This list will provide a forum for teachers
to discuss a wide variety of issues, concerns, teaching strategies,
useful resources, project collaboration opportunities, and suggestions.
To join this discussion, send an email message to

In the message body, write these words: subscribe discuss-lfs

Also, a capability on the Web exists for semi-real-time chatting.
The facility is a bit more clunky then an AOL-style chat room, but
nonetheless it allows folks to communicate back and forth. I think all of
the Web Chatters are in the process of learning how to effectively
communicate with this tool. You are cordially invited to join this
experiment if you have Web access. Please go to

The next scheduled Web Chat meeting is for Tuesday, September 26 at
4:30pm Pacific time. Also, feel free to drop in at any time and see if you
can stir up some action on your own.


A new resource is available for teachers who are undertaking their
first electronic field trip. The document was written by middle
school teacher Scott Coletti who has taken his classes on the
previous two Passport to Knowledge adventures. Scott has captured
the lessons he's learned in turning these trips into meaningful
educational experiences. Although the document is still a draft, it is
still quite valuable in its rough form. If you are a bit unsure of how
to get started with Live From the Stratosphere, please peruse
Scott's document. It is available on the LFS Gopher
(quest.arc.nasa.gov under Guides and Resources) or on the LFS Web
under "Guides and things."


A new Web resource is available for students. It is a short section
which describes why telescopes are put in airplanes, including the
history and future of the technology. It has kid-friendly (cute)
graphics and small (quick downloading) pictures. Visit this resource
on the LFS Web under the "Kids' stuff" area


Registration for the Web pages has been discontinued. Although the
data we gathered was useful, it wasn't worth the price. Feedback
from you indicated that the registration was a hassle and it was
prone to failure. So we bagged it and now folks can get to the Web
without registering. Thanks to the teachers who endured the
problems and whose constructive criticism helped us to better meet
your needs.


The junior-lfs had been experiencing some implementation problems.
These have now been corrected. Due to the problems, we will postpone
the first postings to this list until the week of October 1.
Apologies to those who were inconvenienced.  

This was a good lesson for the LFS crew in how services previously
tested can sometimes go kablooey without apparent reason. Yikes!

As mentioned in the previous update, during past projects, we have
received comments that some of the updates are too long or that some
vocabulary/concepts are too difficult for the average middle schooler. So
for this project, in addition to the regular Field Journals, we will be
offering an easier-to-read version geared towards an average 5th/6th
grader's interests and vocabulary. These messages will be distilled from
the regular messages. I am still looking for a few volunteers who would
be willing to produce these reports. These folks should have a clear
understanding of 5th/6th grade reading skills. Volunteers would be
expected to write no more than one report per week. If you are
interested, please send a note to me at marc@quest.arc.nasa.gov. 
Thank you.

If you are interested in receiving these so-called Junior Reports, please
send an email to . Leave the subject blank,
and in the message body, write these words: subscribe junior-lfs


Please do not reproduce this article without permission of the author.
Contact Dr. John Davies, Joint Astronomy Center,
University of Hawaii, Hilo, Hawaii.  

Higher Education.

As PPARC begins to expand its programme for the Public Understanding of
Science, your Hawaii editor recently had a chance to experience public
outreach NASA style when he was invited to fly on the Kuiper Airborne
Observatory with a group of American science teachers.

For those readers who are not astronomers, the Kuiper Airborne Observatory
is a Lockheed Starlifter military cargo jet which is equipped with a 1
metre infrared telescope. The telescope looks out of a hole in the side of
the aircraft while astronomers, sitting inside the pressurized cabin, make
their observations. The aircraft can fly at over 40,000ft, taking it above
99.5% of the water in the Earth's atmosphere and this means infrared
observations impossible even from the top of 14,000ft Mauna Kea can be made.

The size of the Starlifter makes it possible to carry a couple of
"passengers" on each flight so NASA has a programme called FOSTER (Flight
Opportunities for Science Teacher Enrichment) in which pairs of school
teachers fly on the aircraft to "observe" the scientists in action. For
reasons too complicated to bother you with, I was asked to come along and
observe the observers observing the observers. In return I offered to host
one of the teacher teams for a visit to Mauna Kea so they could compare
ground and aircraft based observing. So on July 19th Donna Smith and Jed
Laderman, science teachers from California, met me at the Joint Astronomy
Centre, signed the medical waivers and headed up Mauna Kea.

During the drive up I told them about PPARC and why we were here in Hawaii
and they explained about the intensive 7 day workshop on  astronomy and
science education which they had attended as part of the FOSTER programme.
Unfortunately the remains of Tropical Storm Barbara hit Hawaii that night
and caused very heavy rain over the whole island and when we got to the
summit of Mauna Kea no stars were visible in the murk. While this was a
disappointment, and very bad for the astronomers hoping to observe that
night, it did mean everyone had more time to talk so we had quite long visits
to both UKIRT and JCMT. I showed our Donna and Jed  around UKIRT and Derek
Ward-Thompson from ROE did a great job in explaining to them how the JCMT
worked and what he was hoping to do when  the rain stopped. Things were
improving a bit as we headed down and we stopped at the mid-level rest
facility for a while where Donna and Jed did some binocular astronomy
before we carried on back to sea level.

The next day the three of us flew  to Hickham Air Force Base, which adjoins
Honolulu Airport, on the nearby island of Oahu. We met the organiser
of the FOSTER programme, Edna DeVore, and talked about our
flight on the following evening. We spent most of the afternoon climbing
over the aircraft, looking at the telescope (which involved climbing into
an enclosed, metal clad, blacked out box about the size of a large double
wardrobe while the summer Sun beat down on the outside) and chatting to
scientists and members of the flight crew. Everyone was busy, but they all
found time to talk to the teachers about the aircraft and its mission.

On the day of the flight we returned to Hickham for our safety briefing (a
bit more comprehensive than the old "in the unlikely event of a cabin
de pressurization" routine) and for fitting with oxygen masks just in case
the seals failed and all the air decided to depart the cabin suddenly via
the telescope aperture. We also acquired an extra teacher, 55 year old
Darla Casey from Oregon, who had so enjoyed herself the night before she
pleaded for another ride. The principal investigator, Mark Morris, gave us a
talk on the science he planned to do then it was time for a quick dinner,
7pm briefing, flight suits on and prepare for take-off.

Now at this point you can forget any illusions about this being just like
any other plane. Its a long green tube with a ramp at the back and pipes
and wires running along the roof. There are four tiny windows, designed not
for sightseeing but for checking for fire outside in the event of a crash.
Control consoles and panels with computers and so on fill much of the
available space except at the back where a couple of seat rows are bolted
to the metal floor. Carry-on bags don't go in overhead bins, you tie them to
the floor with bits of rope! There is no sound proofing so everyone wears
earphones to suppress the noise of the engines and wind. If you can imagine
the  inside of a world war two submarine being depth-charged, you're not
far out.

After take-off, itself a mystery since it was dark and it wasn't possible
to see out, the seatbelt sign went off and the six scientists started
running about hooking up batteries and oscilloscopes to their instruments.
After about 30 minutes we reached 39,000 ft and the telescope team (three
plus a mission director) opened the "dome". Stars appeared on the TV
monitors but within a few minutes it was clear something was wrong because
I could see the stress level rising amongst the science team as they
struggled to reduce the noise in the instrument detector system. Mark
Morris paced up and down and I could imagine him thinking about how fast
his observing time was slipping away while the instrument team switched over
electronics to try and fix whatever was producing the noise. Edna, our teacher
coordinator, wisely shuffled us out of the way while all this was going on
but finally things started to work, the data started to come in and the
mood lightened noticeably.

The actual observing was very like ground based astronomy. The science team
operated the instrument and took the data while a telescope team pointed
and stabilised the telescope using TV cameras. The only big differences
were that the observatory shuddered from time to time and we all had to
communicate by intercom. Once things calmed down our teachers came up front
and each had a go at guiding the telescope while I rushed about taking
notes and pictures while shouting "OK everyone, another flash coming up"
since the crew don't like bright flashes without warning, apparently it
makes then worry about explosions! After that, the only technical snag was
that the coffee was cold, some-one had missed "coffee machine on" during the
take-off checklist.

The back of the aircraft was the teachers domain. They had hung springs,
scales, balloons and gyroscopes from the ceiling and video taped them
every time the aircraft turned or bounced in turbulence. From time to time
we compared notes on our experiences using a private intercom channel and
it was obvious that the teachers were fast learners and that they were
really interested in seeing science done for real. Later Donna and Jed,
wearing their blue NASA flight suits, video-taped a lesson while standing
next to some of the computer banks. It was just like "Star Trek", their
students  will love it.

About seven hours into the flight it was time to pack-up. The astronomers
wanted another 90 seconds of observing but the flight plan wouldn't permit
it. The mission director said "No, cage (lock) the telescope and close the
dome" and down we went. The same scenes were now played out in reverse,
remove the batteries and oscilloscopes from the telescope and store them,
tie down the carry-on bags again. I headed up to the cockpit to watch the
landing and strapped in behind the pilot as we began our descent to
Honolulu in the pre-dawn darkness. Flaps out, wheels down, cleared for
landing and all the usual stuff then we were rolling along the runway and
taxiing back to our parking slot at Hickham. The engines stopped and the
doors opened. Within a few minutes almost everyone had vanished to their
beds for some well deserved rest but the teachers and I were the last to
leave. Of course we didn't have to get up and do it all again the next day.


John Davies, JAC Hawaii


[Editor's note: The passages below continues a series of 
journals from last year]

Kuiper Airborne Observatory Flight Log
Juan Rivera - Airborne Telescope Operator
Friday, May 13, 1994

Tonight was to be a research flight. But during the preflight
check of the aircraft, the flight engineer found gravel and
rocks in all four of our engines!!  It turns out that earlier
in the day an aircraft parked in front of us goosed his throttles
as he was taxing away and peppered us with debris. If the flight
engineer had not noticed the gravel they probably would have
badly damaged all four engines at start up. It's a very lucky
thing that he caught that. And it's an example of why we do
very thorough checks of everything prior to a flight. There is
much less margin for errors and problems in aircraft than other
forms of transportation. You can't just pull over if you have

So now the engines will have to be x-rayed to see if more debris
is inside where we can't see it. Depending what they find, we
could be out of business I'm afraid. I'm not an engine mechanic
but I think we might have to swap out all four engines if worst
comes to worst. I'm told that it will cost us $500,000 if we have
to swap out the engines. In that case, the replacement engines would
probably be shipped from Travis Air Force Base in California. Since
our schedule is planned out for months in advance, there is very
little room to slip it when something like this happens. The
new experimenters could end up losing flights.

Right now, the folks of the flight crew are over at Flight Operations
filing an FOD report. FOD stands for "Foreign Object Damage". If
loose debris is left laying around where aircraft operate, this
sort of thing happens, and it's very expensive. The folks that
were in the plane at the time said the plane was getting really
blasted with rocks which they could hear bouncing off the skin.
I'm sure the flight crew will have a few choice words for the
Flight Operations people. It's not necessary to use a lot of
power to get the plane moving, especially when there is another
one behind you. Those guys knew better.

Well enough said about that. I had a great time this afternoon.
Michael, a computer programmer on the project with me, and I
went snorkeling. We found a great little beach where only about
five people were taking a scuba class. We were swimming along
in some pretty shallow water and it didn't look all that good -
only about 3 feet deep - when we came across an area where the
bottom dropped off to a depth of about 30 feet. There were great
big living coral growths the size of small cars with quite a few
fish here and there. Michael grabbed my fin to get my attention
and pointed down under one of these big coral growths, and there
was a big sea turtle about two feet long! He slowly swam away
and we followed him for about ten minutes. I didn't want to
get too close although I would have loved to swim up and touch
him. He looked slightly injured and was favoring his left
flipper, but appeared pretty healthy to me.

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