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Flagstaff Festival of Science: September 21-30, 2007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dig Science in the southern Utah desert, the Martian north pole and under the ice in Antarctica. Get ready to uncover a world of mystery and discovery! Join us for the 2007 Flagstaff Festival of Science!

Lead scientist in the excavation of the therizinosaur skeleton and Festival keynote presenter Dr. David Gillette is scheduled to kick off the free 10-day event with Therizinosaur -- Mystery of the Sickle Claw Dinosaur at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 21 in Ardrey Auditorium at Northern Arizona University. When the therizinosaur (thair-uh-zi’-na-sore) skeleton was found in the southern Utah desert, scientists were stumped. The puzzling discovery of this odd, eight-foot-tall gangly dinosaur and how it became lost in an unfriendly sea will set the stage for the 2007 Flagstaff Festival of Science when scientists explore Dino Might.

In addition to several talks by USGS scientists throughout the 10-day festival, there will be talks, open houses, star parties, and tours at Lowell Observatory, Naval Observatory, as NAU Campus Observatory, as well as many other events related to astronomy, space science, engineering, archaeology, weather, ecology, and much, much more!

Just a few of the other USGS and space science related events during the Festival of Science include:

Saturday, Sept. 22
Science in the Park
10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Wheeler Park
Perform mock heart surgery, spot an avalanche before it happens, get on board with the Phoenix Mars Mission and uncover the secrets of the Sinagua. This hands-on adventure will have you digging for fossils, understanding conditions in space and exploring sustainable living. From tree roots that dig into the earth to tree rings that dig into the past, people of all ages will Dig Science at Wheeler Park!

Mountain Campus Science and Engineering Day
1 – 4 p.m., NAU Wettaw Building, #88
Attend an exciting chemistry magic show, handle favorite ugly bugs, experience mini Baja and electric cars, see bizarre life forms in plants, view through an electron microscope and solar telescope, make balloon and Alka-Seltzer rockets, have body composition tests performed and operate a seismograph. Don’t miss the tsunamis, earthquakes and aquifers in stereo through the three-dimensional Geo-Wall.

Tuesday, Sept. 25
Phoenix Mars Scout Mission
Carla Bitter, UofA
7 p.m. Museum of Northern Arizona
Launched last month, the Phoenix Mars Scout Mission lander is on its way to the Martian north pole. Find out what signatures of life scientists hope to uncover when a robotic arm digs into the arctic soil!

Wednesday, Sept. 26
Titan’s Methane Monsoon
Dr. Henry Roe, Lowell Observatory
7 p.m. Museum of Northern Arizona
Saturn’s moon, Titan, has been fascinating astronomers with its dry riverbeds, giant ice mountains, drifting methane clouds and liquid methane lakes. Hear from one man who watches Titan almost nightly to gauge the bizarre atmosphere and its impact on this moon’s surface.

Thursday, Sept. 27
Checking in with Mars Rovers
Dr. Ken Herkenhoff, USGS
5 p.m., Lowell Observatory
They have far exceeded their expected lifetimes! Spirit and Opportunity, the hard-working robotic field geologists, keep on going. Hear about their discoveries of ancient water activity on the red planet.

Friday, Sept. 28
Wondrous Worlds
Dr. Paul Geissler, USGS
4 p.m. Lowell Observatory
Just light years away, elements in the universe are putting on a magnificent show! Experience it through the lens of the Hubble telescope.

Sunday, Sept. 30
Meteor Crater Open House
8 a.m. – 5p.m., I-40 east to Exit 233
A hole lotta science goin’ on at this enormous crater! See for yourself with a guided tour along a portion of the rim, or crash meteorites in an interactive display! If you are 12 years old or older, join in a rare opportunity to hike the entire rim. Make your reservation for this special whole-rim hike, 800-289-5898.

For more information and the complete calendar of events, visit the 2007 Flagstaff Festival of Science website.

PBS Arizona Stories: Apollo Astronaut Training

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

PBS is airing Arizona Stories: Apollo Astronaut Training Sunday, July 15, 2007. This documentary presents an overview of the USGS Astrogeology Research Program's involvement in training the Apollo astronauts in field geology techniques to help them acheive the science objectives of the lunar landing missions. From the transcript: "Beginning about 1964, the U.S.G.S. took Astronauts on geologic field trips to places like the Grand Canyon and Meteor Crater southeast of Flagstaff . When astronauts were not available, geologists dressed up in spacesuits and simulated the work that would be done on the moon. Learning to relay geologic observations by radio was important because during actual moon landings, U.S.G.S. scientists were at mission control, keeping track of where astronauts were on the lunar surface." The documentary includes interviews with Gene Shoemaker and Gerald Schaber, and video footage of training site preparation and activities.

More: KAET/PBS Arizona Stories: Apollo Astronaut Training

More: KAET/PBS Arizona Stories program schedule

Link: USGS Astrogeology Research Program History

Link: USGS Astro - Astronaut Training and Equipment Testing Photo Gallery

Link: USGS Astro - The View From An Astronaut's Eyes Apollo Photo Gallery

Job Opening: Technical Information Specialist

Monday, July 2, 2007

Application Deadline: July 30, 2007 (note, the deadline has been extended from the original date of July 23, 2007)

The Astrogeology Team of the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona has openings for a full-time, permanent Technical Information Specialist (GS-1412) position at the GS-7 to -9 grade levels. The salary range for this position is $35,752.00 TO $56,849.00. The position will open on July 2, 2007 and close on July 23, 2007.

The incumbent will manage the Astrogeology Regional Planetary Information Facility (RPIF) on behalf of NASA and USGS. The RPIF is a planetary resource library and an archival repository for photographic and supplemental engineering data products. Major duties include but are not limited to: Incorporates new information and data into RFIF digital and hardcopy archives. Maintains digital catalogs and inventories. Oversees and manages archival historic and/or research materials. Generates inventories, catalogs, and digital image products for use in specific research efforts or for transfer to public information users. Assists planetary scientists in finding images, maps, and other data. Conducts general interest tours of RPIF and Astrogeology collections and facilities on a variety of planetary science topics. Provides technical or operational guidance to assistants. Assists senior staff with development and maintenance of long-range plans for future management and operation of the facility.

The Astrogeology Program of the USGS operates largely on funding from NASA.

The mission of Astrogeology is to establish and maintain geoscientific and technical expertise in planetary science and remote sensing to perform three major tasks:

  • Scientifically study and map Earth and extraterrestrial bodies,
  • Plan and conduct planetary exploration missions, and
  • Explore and develop new technologies in data processing and analysis, archiving, and distribution.

Please see our Web site ( for more information on the breadth of our research program.

To learn more about this opportunity and/or to apply go to the USGS online Online Automated Recruitment Site (OARS) at:

Look for announcement # WR-2007-0448 for all U.S. citizens or #WR-2007-0454 for specific eligibility as described within the announcement.

or visit USA-Jobs at:

Look for announcement # WR-2007-0448 for all U.S. citizens. USA-Jobs will direct applicants to the OARS site above as all must apply via the OARS system.

Applicants must apply online at the OARS site by the closing date of the announcement (midnight Eastern Time on July 23, 2007).

Contact Karen Perez for more information:

U.S. Geological Survey

Department of Interior

Office of Human Resources

3020 State University Drive East

Modoc Hall, Suite 2001

Sacramento, CA 95819

Attn: Karen Perez, 916-278-9389

Fax: 916-278-9401


March 8th -- NAU CENS Career Fair

Monday, February 12, 2007

On March 8th, we will be at the Northern Arizona University College of Engineering and Natural Sciences Career Fair in the Dubois Center on South campus. If you're interested in an internship with the Astrogeology Research Program, or would like more information about working for the USGS, stop by, and don't forget your resume!

More info: NAU CENS Spring 2007 Career Fair

Update on Mars' Rovers

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Larry Soderblom
Larry Soderblom, MER co-Investirgator

Dr. Larry Soderblom, Astrogeology Program (USGS), will be speaking on NASA's Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, September 28, 2006 at 4.p.m. at Lowell Observatory, as part of the Flagstaff Festival of Science.

These rovers have seen the sun rise and set on Mars nearly a thousand times, and have traveled nearly 10 miles across the Martian surface. Many have joked about the rovers being like the energizer bunny, how they just keep going, and going even if they get a hitch in their giddyup.

Dr. Soderblom will be there to tell you what it is like first hand. Don't miss out on such a rich opportunity.

More: Visit the Flagstaff Festival of Science web site

NAU CENS Career Fair - CompSci Internships

Thursday, September 14, 2006

USGS Astrogeology Research Program will have representatives at the NAU CENS Career Fair on September 26, 2006, at the du Bois Center on NAU's south campus from 1:00pm to 6:00pm. The career fair is held each semester for the students of Northern Arizona University's College of Engineering and Natural Science.

Currently, Astrogeology has two year-round internships open for Computer Science majors, or other majors with a Computer Science minor. Students who have a strong programming background are also welcome to apply. Please bring a resume to the NAU CENS Career Fair and drop it off with the folks at the USGS table. The internships are advertised through NAU Off-Campus Jobs page.

Whether you're interested in an internship with the USGS, or you're interested in a career with the USGS or other federal science agency, stop by the NAU CENS Career Fair to chat! Our representatives are Astrogeology computer scientists, information technology specialists, and interns who want to share their unique experiences working on space exploration missions, planetary research, and great projects that support NASAs space science mission. There will be plenty of information about Astrogeology, the USGS, and pursuing careers in the federal government.

For more information about working for the USGS Astrgeology Research Program, see our Careers page.

Upcoming Happenings at Lowell Observatory

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Slipher Building Rotunda
Visitors enjoy observing at portable telescopes and touring the Observatory's Slipher Building Rotunda museum during a special evening event, 2006. Photo: Jeremy Perez

Sept. 3, 2006
(Sunday evening)

Labor Day Weekend Star Fest
(evening) – Lowell Observatory will celebrate the holiday weekend with a special Star Fest. This event will feature numerous telescopes set up for viewing throughout the Lowell campus and indoor exhibits and presentations. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 6, 2006
(Weds. evening)
Flagstaff Night (evening) – Flagstaff residents (must show valid drivers license or utility bill) pay only half price for entrance into the Observatory's evening programs. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.

REU Student Talks Tomorrow

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Ajay Limaye
Ajay Limaye, REU student working on Mars research at the USGS Astrogeology Research Program.

Everyone is invited to the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), student talks this coming Wednesday morning, August 9, starting at 9:00 a.m. in room 321, of the Physical Sciences Building at Northern Arizona University (NAU). Talks such as Potential Nested Craters on Mars, Spectroscopy of Kuniper Belt Objects, Irregular Galaxies using UV Photometry, and many more interesting subjects are on the agenda.

Ajay Limaye, a student working under Mentor, Ken Tanaka, at USGS, Branch of Astrogeology, will be presenting Leading Mars Science Lab to Layers: The Hunt for Aqueous Sedimentary Deposits. Ajay says," I'm doing this to get an idea of what it's like to jump into active planetary research." Ajay is currently a senior at UC-Berkeley majoring in Earth and Planetary Science.

Doughnuts and coffee will be served at 8:30. The talks are opened to the public.

Meteor Alert

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Shooting star
"Shooting stars. This electrical [sic] phenomenon was observed on Wednesday morning last at Richmond and its vicinity, in a manner that alarmed many, and astonished every person that beheld it. From one until three in the morning, those starry meteors seemed to fall from every point in the heavens, in such numbers as to resemble a shower of sky rockets..." [ref]

METEOR ALERT: Earth is about to pass through the dusty tail of Comet Thatcher, and this will cause the annual Lyrid meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower to peak on April 22nd, producing about 10 meteors per hour--modest, but pretty. The best time to look is during the hours before sunrise on Saturday morning. Go to a dark site away from city lights, if possible.

The Moon will also encounter the comet's tail on April 22nd, which raises an interesting possibility: Amateur astronomers may be able to spot flashes of light on the Moon when comet debris hits the lunar surface and explodes. All that's required is a backyard telescope and lots of patience.

Visit for details, sky maps and observing tips.

Note: This is a Northern Hemisphere shower. South of the equator, observers will see very few Lyrids. Southerners are, however, in an excellent position to observe Lyrid impacts on the Moon. The Moon rises high in southern skies on April 22nd, in plain view of backyard telescopes.

credit: more: I want the full story.


Monday, April 3, 2006

On May 19 & 20, please join the USGS Astrogeology Research Program for this years "Spotlight on the Stars," held by the Prescott Astronomy Club at Watson Lake Park in Prescott. The park is located 4-miles north of downtown Prescott on Highway 89.

There will be camping for those with tents, RVs and campers. Participants will be treated to free astronomy talks, festival activities, exhibits, hands-on activities, great science talks, food, Country Music, and more. The USGS Astrogeology Research Program will be among the exhibitors and speakers, which include several space science and astronomy organizations from throughout Arizona.

Bring your telescope along, if you have one, (some will be provided), and participate in the PM BIG PUBLIC STAR PARTY!

There is so much to do that I can't tell it all.

If you'd like to know more information about the May 19 & 20 events, camping arrangements and what will be available, a schedule of events, more information on those who are providing exhibits, or to find a map on how to get there, follow the star.Star

"Roving Mars" Coming to IMAX January 27, 2006/ Rated G.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

ROVING MARSIs there life on Mars? Robots are currently searching for an answer to that and other Posterquestions regarding Earth's closest neighbor. This IMAX documentary details the journies of Spirit and Opportunity, two rovers exploring the red planet, and promises to take us closer than ever before. It is directed by George Butler (Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry) and produced by Frank Marshall (who has produced blockbuster The Sixth Sense and the esteemed Back to the Future and Indiana Jones trilogies).

For a movie with major studio backing that will be released in less than two months, you'd be hard-pressed to find one with as little information dispatched and as little interest registered. Disney has found a niche market for co-produced IMAX films over the past few years, but despite its large-format photography, Roving Mars could be the smallest yet.

Coming to IMAX Theaters January 27, 2006 / Rated G
More: Disney Online: Roving Mars

See Saturn

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

February 19, 2006

lowell_logo_smWinterfest Star FestSaturn will be featured for this special Star Fest. Numerous telescopes will be set up for viewing throughout the Lowell campus, and indoor videos will also be available for viewing. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. For more information, contact Kevin Schindler (kevin(at)lowell(dot)edu or 928-233-3210.

Flagstaff Earth Sciences Seminar Series

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The NAU-sponsored Flagstaff Earth Sciences Seminar Series welcomes Jeff Johnson of the USGS Astrogeology Research Program. Jeff will be presenting "Updates on the Mars Exploration Rover Missions - Sol 632 and counting" on Thursday, October 13 at 4 pm in Rm 103 of the NAU Geology Building (building 12 on the NAU campus map).

Flagstaff Festival of Science

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Festival of Science logo 2005 Flagstaff Festival of Science -

Swing into Science! From the tops of Earth's tallest trees to Saturn's mysterious moon, Titan, you'll want to Swing into Science during this 10-day adventure that may well find you exploring centuries-old volcanoes, falling for a frog, or throwing an atlatl!

USGS Astrogeology Research Program scientists and technical experts will be giving numerous talks on local and planetary science and leading a field trip to explore the San Francisco Volcanic Field! Join us at Science in the Park and meet Astrogeologists and our fellow USGS earth scientists, where we'll have hands-on demos and displays!

swing into science logoA summary of USGS events:

Saturday, Sept. 24
Science in the Park
10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Wheeler Park

Tuesday, Sept. 27
Mars Exploration Rover Missions
5 p.m., Lowell Observatory

Wednesday, Sept. 28
The Mysteries of Titan: New Images & Results from Cassini
7 p.m., Museum of Northern Arizona

Saturday, Oct. 1
Geology of the Escalante
9:40 a.m., Coconino Community College, V. Philip Tullar Commons

Sunday, Oct. 2
Volcanism in the San Francisco Volcanic Field Trip
Call for reservations, 928-556-7173

Follow the link below to continue reading about USGS Festival of Science activities, or visit the 2005 Flagstaff Festival of Science website for complete information about this event, which features activities from science organizations around Flagtaff, including Lowell Observatory, Gore, Naval Observatory, Northern Arizona University, and more!

Continue reading "Flagstaff Festival of Science"

Super Science Extravaganza

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Super Science Extravaganza!!

Thursday, May 5, from 6-8 p.m. at Flagstaff Middle School

The NAU/NASA Technology Enhanced Learning Center program at Flagstaff Middle School is sponsoring a community outreach activity. All age groups are encouraged to attend and participate in the Super Science Extravaganza! This wonderful even will take place on Thursday, May 5 from 6 - 8 p.m. at Flagstaff Middle School. They will demonstrate the wonder and excitement of science, mathematics, and technology with a connection to Flagstaff and the surrounding communities. The evening with begin with a special guest for NASA Dryden Research Center, followed by opportunities to browse different exhibits and visit with a variety of professionals.

The Flagstaff Field Center will be represented by Sue Beard, Trent Hare, and Deborah Soltesz. Sue and Deborah will host a booth that will highlight the wonders of science on the Earth and in space. Trent will demonstrate the wonders of Mars with a hands-on demo. He will also let us know what the mars rovers, Spirt and Opportunity, are up to.