EPO - National Park Service
Sandy Dueck, Lead Co-Investigator
Trailside Signs Target Astrobiology in Lassen Volcanic National Park
The first NASA astrobiology-themed trailside sign was installed this year in Lassen Volcanic National Park in California. The Ames Team, in partnership with Lassen Volcanic National Park and Lockheed Martin, is creating a series of four astrobiology-themed trailside signs to further engage national park visitors in exploration and scientific discovery. The first sign, "Sulphur Works," was completed in May 2012. The three remaining signs are in draft stages, with completion dates scheduled for summer 2013. These interpretative signs will be installed at locations in the volcanic national park that best illustrate the most compelling aspects of astrobiology research. Lassen has hydrothermal features similar to systems that once existed on ancient Mars. The signs allow the public to interpret and understand microbiology and their importance to planetary environments. Trailside signs have been shown to be particularly effective tools for doing interpretation and outreach, and impacting the public's attitude toward science.
Lassen Astrobiology Intern Recognition Night and Public Presentation
Students in the Astrobiology Intern Program at Red Bluff High School met for the final time for the school year, on May 1, 2012. They participated in a sample collection field trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park and an Astrobiology Intern Recognition Night and program presentation to the public.
Lassen Astrobiology Student Interns Visit NASA Ames Research Center
On March 5, 2012, the Astrobiology Student Interns from Red Bluff High School, their science teachers, and Ranger Steve Zachary from Lassen Volcanic National Park spent the day touring NASA Ames Research Center. The purpose of this trip was to introduce the interns to Ames, the closest NASA center to Red Bluff, CA, and to highlight the careers of the people who work here.
Among the tour stops were Future Flight Central, Vertical Motion Simulator, 80x120 Wind Tunnel, and the ARC Jets Facility.
Preparing for End-of-Year Student Research Projects
The NASA Astrobiology Institute Ames Team conducted a laboratory session with the Astrobiology Student Interns at Red Bluff High School on February 13, 2012. The Water/Geology Group, under the direction of Mike Kubo, reviewed chemistry and geology principles to research the effect of acidic volcanic fluids on volcanic rocks. The Biology/Geology Group, led by Niki Parenteau, reviewed biology coursework to prepare for their end-of-year research project.
On February 14, 2012, Ames Team members, Ranger Steve Zachary and the interns met at Lassen Volcanic National Park and snowshoed to their field sites to collect biological and geological samples for their end-of-year research projects. After all the necessary samples were collected, everyone headed down the mountain to Red Bluff High School. Back in their chemistry lab, the Water/Geology Group prepared the geological samples they collected. The Biology/Geology Group viewed sulfur oxidizing bacteria through a microscope.
Building Winogradsky Columns
A Winogradsky Column is a translucent container filled with mud, water, and other materials such as shredded newspaper, powdered chalk, and egg yolk mixed together. It is a self-contained recycling system powered only by light. The purpose of the column is to provide an environment for microbes to grow. The concentration of oxygen, nutrients, and light affects the types and amount of microbes that grow. The column helps the students understand the growth of microbial communities and the interdependence of microbes - the activities of one microbe allow another to grow. Niki Parenteau, NASA Ames, instructed interns on the collection of the first set of observations about acid dissolution experiments and Winogradsky Columns. Learn how to build a Winogradsky Column.
Interactions Between Rocks and Water in Lassen Volcanic National Park
On October 24, 2011, Dave Des Marais, NASA Ames, gave a lecture on "Geochemistry, Rocks and Waters in Lassen Volcanic National Park," and talked about volcanism and water, minerals in Lassen's volcanic rocks, hydrothermal activity and rock weathering. These are some of the things students will experience in the field as they go to sample sites in the park and then continue their work in the science lab.
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Astrobiology Classroom and Field Exercises
A group of science- and engineering-minded juniors and seniors from Red Bluff High School, participating in the NASA Astrobiology Student Intern Program, are introduced to the geology of volcanoes in the Cinder Cone area of Lassen Volcanic National Park by Ranger Steve Zachary.
AMES TEAM EDUCATION AND PUBLIC OUTREACH
---Sandy Dueck, Lead Co-Investigator