Monday, June 15, 2015

#DearPluto letter written by Nathan, Autism Speaks

Written by Nathan, a 13 year-old
with the aid of his teacher, Mare.

Today I received the above, from my educator friend, Mare:

"Hey Janet! This #DearPluto letter was written by my 13 year old student that has an amazing sense of humor, is sweet, teases me all the time, can read, do higher level math in his head, is severely autistic, non-verbal, can't hold a pencil, has very little communication skills, and yet, (in my opinion) is one of the most amazing kids I know.   This is the 4th writing assignment we have done this year.  They take a couple of weeks to do.  The other 3 all brought his mother to tears. Nathan and I worked on this using his YES/NO cards and picking from words I wrote on dry erase cards.  Nathan and I read several articles about New Horizons and Pluto, and I wrote some key words on dry erase cards. I asked him which things he wanted to talk about in his letter and he would pick the words from the cards.   I also asked him YES and NO questions to clarify his sentences.  Nathan approved all the sentences in the letter. We looked at a lot of pictures before Nathan picked out the picture for his letter.  Nathan does not draw. 

I hope you enjoy his letter.  Thank you for heading up this project and exciting students at all levels and skills about the importance of this valuable mission. Love, Mare" 

I love a 1000 things about this letter, but I REALLY love the fact that Nathan says of Pluto's moons, "Be careful flying by you don't hit one."

But as the New Horizons mission zooms ever closer to the unknown world of Pluto, I want to thank Nathan for sharing the wonder of his world by spending time writing this letter with the kind of patience I can only ever hope to emulate.

This young man's interest and thoughts about a spacecraft and a tiny planet and its moons, beckons to me the words of Challenger Astronaut, Christa McAuliffe, "Space is for everybody. It's not just for a few people in science or math, or for a select group of astronauts. That's our new frontier out there, and it's everybody's business to know about space."

So Nathan...Janet's Planet wants you to know that SPACE is for you! Keep writing and sharing your thoughts! You are an inspiration! May we as a species create more spaces to understand and access the inner worlds of autism spectrum disorder, as we explore the furthest worlds in our solar system.

Cosmic Peace My Sweet Peeps!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Click on VOTE FOR JANET"S PLANET and help us win $25,000!  We will use the money to produce more space and science videos to give away to students and educators.  Be part of inspiring the next generation of scientists and assist Janet's Planet in producing visual media to do its part in that endeavor!

Vote once a day, every day through Feb 23, 2014.  Every vote is appreciated!

Thanks so much!

Cosmic Peace,


Wednesday, January 8, 2014


On this day in 1943, Nikola Tesla died at the age of 86, alone and penniless in a New York City hotel. And yet his work is more relevant to how we live today than most people realize. The following is courtesy of:
Why Nikola Tesla was the greatest INVENTOR who ever lived and possibly the greatest GEEK who ever lived. Over one hundred years ago a Serbian-American inventor by the name of Nikola Tesla was fixing things that weren't broken. In a time when the majority of the world was still lit by candles, an electrical system known as alternating current was invented and is what powers every home on the planet. Who do we have to thank for this invention that ushered humanity into a second industrial revolution? Nikola Tesla. Now you might be saying..."But I thought Edison was the father of the electric age?" And the answer is Nope. Nada. TESLA! Most people think that Edison invented the light bulb. Basically Edison improved upon the ideas of 22 other men who pioneered the light bulb before him. Truth is Edison just figured out how to SELL the light bulb. Tesla actually worked for Edison and Edison promised to pay him the modern equivalent of a million dollars to fix the problems Edison was having with his DC generators and motors. Tesla fixed the motors and then asked for his money, and Edison laughed and replied, "Tesla, you don't understand our American humor." Edison wasn't so much a geek but a non-geek working in a geek space. He thought the value of his inventions could be measured in how much money they made. He was neither a scientist or a mathematician, he hired people to do those things. Edison was a CEO, not a Geek Scientist. Tesla was known for discovering amazing things and then FORGETTING TO WRITE THEM DOWN. Edison was known for rushing to the patent office as soon as one of his workers had a brilliant idea. Tesla and Edison had a falling out...little wonder, and thus Tesla went to work on his alternating current electrical system. This infuriated Edison who was trying to sell the world on his direct current system. Edison's DC current system required a power plant every square mile and couldn't transmit electricity very far, AC used thinner wires, higher voltages, and could transmit electricity over long distances. Edison retaliated by paying local school boys 25 cents for every dog and cat they could find in Edison's neighborhood and Edison was electrocuting his neighbor's pets to show how dangerous TESLA's AC current was. His goal was to prove that AC current was too dangerous to use in people's homes. Even Marconi, the guy who won a Nobel Prize in Physics for inventing the radio work was based all on the previous work of TESLA. In truth Edison was...NOT A GOOD GUY! After Marconi became world famous for sending the first transatlantic message, Tesla's response was: "Marconi is a good fellow. Let him continue. He is using 17 of my patents." So basically....TESLA = NICEST SCIENTIST/GEEK/INVENTOR EVER! Radar? Credited to Robert Watson Watt in 1935, but Tesla had invented it in 1917 and pitched it to the US Navy. But Edison was head of R and D and told the US Navy that it had no practical use. EDISON IS A SCIENCE BULLY! X-Rays gets credited Wilhelm Rontgen, but totally TESLA. He warned of the potential harm from radiation, but EDISON basically X-Rayed his assistant to death, and nearly X Rayed himself blind. EDISON = RAVING JEALOUS IDIOT! From hydro-electric power to cryogenic engineering, to recording radio waves from outer space, to the transistor to the resonant frequency of Earth to an earthquake machine....ALL TESLA. Remote control, Neon Lighting, the modern electric motor, wireless communications...Spanx, oh wait a minute, everything else I've mentioned, but NOT SPANX. TESLA COULD RECITE ENTIRE BOOKS AT WILL. TESLA COULD VISUALIZE SOMETHING IN HIS HEAD AND THEN BUILD IT WITHOUT EVER WRITING ANYTHING DOWN. But he was a tad bit CRAZY. In the end he died penniless and alone and in his last interview talked about loving a pigeon and dining on nothing but Nabisco crackers and milk. It's a sad and WEIRD story the life of TESLA, but for everything that he did and created, we say THANK YOU NIKOLA TESLA!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

Comet ISON Photo Contest for Amateur Astronomers Launched by National Science Foundation

Comet ISON Photo Contest for Amateur Astronomers Launched by National Science Foundation

by Megan Gannon, News Editor   |   October 27, 2013 10:29am EST

Adam Block took this image of comet ISON using a SBIG STX16803 CCD Camera with a 32-inch Schulman Telescope Schulman Telescope atop Mount Lemmon from the University of Arizona’s SkyCenter on the morning of Oct. 8.
Credit: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

The much-anticipated Comet ISON is now within sight of amateur astronomers as it plunges toward the sun. And the National Science Foundation (NSF) is appealing to the public for pictures of the icy wanderer, which could put on one of the brightest comet shows in years.

The NSF's Division of Astronomical Sciences, along with Astronomy magazine and Discover magazine, is holding a photo contest for images of Comet ISON, with cash prizes worth up to $2,500. The winning images will also be published in Astronomy magazine.

A pair of Russian amateur astronomers first spotted Comet ISON in September 2012. Ever since then, scientists and skywatchers alike have been tracking the sungrazer's progress.

The comet will make its closest approach to the sun on Nov. 28 — Thanksgiving Day in the United States — passing within 730,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) of the solar surface. Some astronomers had predicted the icy body would break up before then, but recent photos of Comet ISON by the Hubble Space Telescope suggest that it has remained largely intact during its trip into the inner solar system.

You can read more about how to submit your photos to the NSF here:

Editor's Note: If you have an amazing night sky photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at

Follow Megan Gannon on Twitter and Google+. Follow us@SPACEdotcomFacebook or Google+. Originally published on

Tags: #Astronomy, #CometIson, #NSFPhotoChallenge

Monday, September 9, 2013

Russia to Outdo NASA With ‘Space Toilet’

Courtesy: RIA Novosti

MOSCOW, September 6 (RIA Novosti) – A new Russian spaceship for trips to the moon or theInternational Space Station will have at least one crucial advantage over its American rival – a toilet, one of the craft’s developers said Friday.
“I don’t think I need to elaborate on how a waste-collection system is much more comfortable than the diapers that astronauts aboard the [US spacecraft] Orion will have to use,” said Vladimir Pirozhkov of the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys, which is involved in the development of the Russian ship.
“Besides, the Russian segment of the International Space Station [ISS] has a limited number of toilets, which means a spacecraft with an extra ‘space toilet’ will come in handy,” he added.
A prototype of the Russian spaceship was unveiled last week at Moscow’s popular MAKS airshow.

Two versions of the spaceship will be constructed: a six-seater for trips to the ISS, and a four-seat “luxury” version capable of storing huge amounts of food and water for trips to the moon, Pirozhkov said.
The first unmanned test launch of the new spacecraft is scheduled for late 2017 or 2018, and a manned flight is expected by 2020.
The rival Orion craft, developed by NASA and the European Space Agency, will be capable of taking up to four people on missions to the ISS, Mars or near-Earth asteroids. It is slated for a debut unmanned flight in 2014 and a manned one after 2020.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Hubble Telescope Spots 'Cosmic Caterpillar' 6 Trillion Miles Long

The caterpillar-shaped knot, called IRAS 20324+4057, is a protostar in a very early evolutionary stage. It is still in the process of collecting material from an envelope of gas surrounding it.

Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and IPHAS

by Clara Moskowitz, Assistant Managing Editor,

The Hubble Space Telescope has captured what scienitsts are describing as a "cosmic caterpillar" nearly 6 trillion miles long slinking through deepspace.

The celestial critter in the new Hubble telescope photo is actually a cloud of gas stretching one light-year (10 trillion kilometers) across, scientists say. This cloud is in the process of collapsing down under its own gravity to give birth to a star — but it's a race against time, because the established bright stars in its vicinity are fighting this process.

There are 65 extremely hot, bright stars lurking nearby the cloud, visible on the right side of the image. A powerful stellar wind is blowing out from these stars, as well as 500 less bright companions nearby, gradually eroding the caterpillar cloud.The cloud is fighting back, too, though, bulking up over time by collecting material surrounding its outer envelope. Whether the caterpillar will gather enough mass to counteract the erosion is unclear. "Only time will tell if the formed star will be a 'heavy-weight' or a 'light-weight' with respect to its mass," NASA scientists wrote in a statement.

The caterpillar cloud is called IRAS 20324+4057, and the cluster of bright stars on the right is known as the Cygnus OB2 association. The area lies 4,500 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus, the Swan. The bright stars are 15 light-years away from the cloud.The new image is a composite of two photographs. One was captured ingreen and infrared light by the Hubble Advanced Camera for Surveys in 2006. The other comes from the ground-based Isaac Newton Telescope, which took the data in 2003 under a project called the INT Photometric H-alpha Survey. The composite image was released Aug. 29 by the Hubble Space Telescope team.

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched to orbit on the space shuttle Discovery in 1990, and after five visits from repair crew astronauts, Hubble's still going strong.