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Madame Mars is a transmedia production designed to prepare all of us for our futures in space, whether orbiting Earth, returning to the moon, or colonizing Mars – and worlds beyond.

As the holiday season approaches, we hope you will keep the Madame Mars project - and all the girls and women our team hopes to inspire with our efforts - in your gift-giving plans. 

From Madame Mars Executive Producer Soumyaa Kapil Behrens:
Madame Mars is evolving into an insightful and compelling film about the impact women have had on the space sciences, what we have learned about the red planet thanks to their efforts, and, in particular, what we will need to know for successful human exploration of Mars - and the universe beyond. The Madame Mars film is nearing a rough cut under the auspices of the Doc Film Institute at San Francisco State University, thanks to the admirable efforts of this semester's edit interns. 
We now need your help to bring this film to completion! I'm asking you to assist in the creation of this historical and groundbreaking film and its educational components by making a tax-deductible donation. There's a handy online form for this - just go to this link and follow a few simple steps. Your contribution will go towards filming final interviews, hiring a savvy post-production team to put polishing touches on the film, and assembling a team to produce the transmedia educational curriculum for use by young women studying science, technology, engineering and math - thereby enabling them in their quest to become the next generation of female space pioneers.  
The Madame Mars team sincerely appreciates your interest and support.
Please let me know if you have any questions or if you need additional information about contributing to the Madame Mars project via the DocFilm Institute at San Francisco State University.
Soumyaa Kapil Behrens
Director, DocFilm Institute
Executive Producer, Madame Mars: Women and the Quest for Worlds Beyond
Phone 415-405-2846 or email
STEM Rolling: Future Scientists Prepare for Careers in Space Science, Space Exploration, and Space Tech
STEM (science, tech, engineering and math) education and preparation are vital to insuring the success and diversity of future generations of space explorers. 

While last month's White House Astronomy Night served as a national showcase for STEM education, the event also prompted an op-ed piece by NPR's Eric Westervelt on how we may be in danger of losing STEM education and the multiple benefits associated with focused learning in areas of science, tech, engineering and math.

"Observer in Chief" gets an astronomy lesson from young scientist

This month Madame Mars looks at STEM in the news and how several Friends of Madame Mars are hard at work, supporting and engaging young people in the areas of science, tech, engineering and math - to maintain and enhance current and future STEM opportunities for girls and other under-represented groups.
Millions of Girls Reach for Billions of Stars
SETI's New Program to Engage Girls in Space Science

The SETI Institute in Mountain View, CA, has been chosen by NASA's Science Mission Directorate to lead a new STEM project, Reaching for the Stars: NASA Science for Girl Scouts, a multi-faceted space science program that will partner girl scouts in grades K-12 with scientists, engineers and educators at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and the University of Arizona.
Led by Edna DeVore and Pamela Harman of the SETI Institute, the five-year space science education program will work initially with The Girl Scouts of Northern California, with plans to expand the program nationwide over a five-year period.
Girl Scouts will be able to earn a series of new Space Science badges through a variety of STEM-related activities, including working with space science professionals and stargazing, with special emphasis on the 2017 total solar eclipse.
More News From SETI: On Sunday, December 13, the American Geophysical Union is hosting Exploration Station from 1 to 5 p.m. at Moscone Center in San Francisco. SETI's Dr. Pascal Lee will talk about and sign copies of his book Mission: Mars, which was awarded Best Children's Science Book 2015 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for elementary and middle school children.
Be a STEM Videographer!
Girl-Produced Videos about Women and Science

Bay Area girls in grades 8-12 participated in a two-week program last summer, sponsored by NASA Ames, the University Affiliated Research Center (UARC), and the Girl Scouts of Northern California (GSNorCal), in which they learned video production skills and applied these to writing, directing and editing short films about women and science.
NASA Ames education specialist Wendy Holforty was among those who organized and managed the workshop. She described the results as "amazing" and "professional," and added that one of the young filmmakers has gone on to produce training videos for the Space Cookies VEX Robotics Team.

Subjects of the videos included space scientists and technologists working at NASA Ames. You can view the films here.
Next Steps to Space:
AAUW's Tech Trek Prepares Girls for Careers in Space

By Melanie Wade
President Elect
Danville-Alamo-Walnut Creek AAUW

Since 1998, AAUW (American Association of University Women) has helped change girls’ lives through its support for Tech Trek, a STEM Camp Built for Girls, by Women.
Tech Trek sends twelve girls, about to enter eighth grade, to a weeklong summer camp at Sonoma State University, where they where they participate in hands-on STEM activities and have opportunities to interact with women employed in STEM fields.
Girls who are nominated by their science or math teachers submit applications and are interviewed by a committee of AAUW members. AAUW branch members work with teachers, parents, university personnel, and STEM professionals to personalize the program for each cohort of students. This year, for example, some camps offered a new cyber-security course sponsored by Symantec Corporation.

Testimonials by last year’s Tech Trek participants included one girl whose robotics course inspired her to start a camp where younger girls could learn about robotics, and another whose stargazing experience opened her mind to considering astrophysics as a career. Still another spoke of her increased confidence gained from this camp:

"Thank you for sending me so I could see all the different ways women are changing the fields of science and the world"

San Francisco Bay Area AAUW branches – including Danville-Alamo-Walnut Creek – raise funds annually to support girls' participation in Tech Trek; the program has been so successful that AAUW adopted Tech Trek at the national level. As a result, an increasing number of middle school girls will have the opportunity to broaden their exposure to STEM education and careers. 
No other telescope in the world has spent so much time pointed toward Mars.
Photo by Dawn Kish
Out of commission for twenty months, the historic Clark Telescope has been cleaned, restored and re-installed under the dome at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, and was recommissioned with a public "first light" opening ceremony on Oct. 3.
Lowell Observatory founder Percival Lowell initially used the telescope to observe "canals" on Mars and to support his legendary theories about life on the red planet.
Designated as a Registered National Historic Landmark in 1964, the Clark Telescope was also recognized by first lady Hillary Clinton in 1999, as part of her "Save America’s Treasures" program. The telescope is now used primarily as an educational resource. More than 75,000 - including 7500 schoolchildren - visit the facility annually. 

If a visit is not possible right now, you - and your coffee table - can enjoy the expertly written and lavishly illustrated book, The Far End of the Journey: Lowell Observatory's 24 inch Clark Telescope, by Lowell Observatory Historian Kevin Schindler, or you can view a new documentary about the telescope renovation by filmmaker Ed George. Both will be released in time for holiday gift-giving - check here for updates.

Clark Telescope trivia:
A poster of the telescope decorated Sheldon and Leonard's apartment for the first two seasons of The Big Bang Theory on CBS.
We all look forward to the historic first footstep on Mars - but where will that foot touch down?
NASA Considers Landing Sites for Human Mars Missions 
Artemis Westenberg of Explore Mars presented her organization's research at the Oct. 29 First Landing Site/Exploration Zone Workshop for Human Missions to the Surface of Mars, held at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston:
Selecting a landing site is more than geological features, biological possibilities, resources and safety for the astronauts. Landing humans on Mars for the first time will be a pivotal moment in our history as it will make us a two-planet species, which without a doubt will lead to another way of viewing ourselves. I want the selected landing site reflect that fact and reflect that we understand that without the scientists before us we would not have come this far.

Giving honour to them should involve picking a landing site with an historic name that we can be proud of, but also the landing site should make sense to generations to come after us... 

Based on these considerations, Explore Mars selected Copernicus Crater, which has interesting geological features and water in its soil to extract for use by the humans landing and living there. Nicolaus Copernicus changed the way we view ourselves as humans with his book on the "Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres," taking us from an Earth-centric view to a Sun-centric view - an apt scientist to honour as landing on Mars will take us further on our path of exploration of the known universe with a footprint, and hopefully longterm presence, on more than one planet. 

From Spaceflight Insider:

NASA Deputy Administrator Discusses Agency's Roadmap to Mars
Exclusive Interview by Jason Rhian
From Business Insider:

Scientists are Days from Finding Out if that Mysterious Star Could Actually Harbor Aliens
SETI Institute astronomer looks for life far beyond Mars 
Story by Jessica Orwig

From Rogers State University Public Television:

Video interview by Sam Jones
In our last newsletter, Johnson Space Center was misspelled - Madame Mars apologizes for the mistake and thanks Janet Stewart for noting it.
Dust Devil Makeovers on Mars
In a November 11 article on the Discovery News site, Ian O'Neill writes that dust devils on Mars - and the tracks they leave behind - may be affecting the planet's climate. When the whirlwinds form - sometimes several miles high - they pick up surface dust and deposit it elsewhere, exposing the darker rock underneath, thereby changing the reflectiveness of the planet's surface and potentially altering atmospheric temperatures on Mars. 
Martian dust devil captured by HiRISE camera in 2012
The same wind events have proven beneficial to Mars rover Opportunity: its dust-clogged solar panels have been periodically cleaned by a passing dust devil.

"These cleaning events," writes O'Neill, "are one of the contributing factors to the veteran rover’s astonishing longevity."
NASA's Grace Douglas
As holiday meals are prepared and consumed on Earth, we can rest assured that astronauts currently on the ISS - and those headed to Mars in the future - will enjoy equally tasty and nutritious spreads, thanks to food scientist Grace Douglas, Advanced Food Technology Scientist at Johnson Space Center.

Douglas's job as a food scientist creating menu items for space demands much more than planning and preparing meals on Earth. Meals destined for the ISS must retain taste and nutrition for two years; currently she's working on meals for Mars with a projected shelf life of five years.

How are holiday meals enjoyed in space?
"They have a galley area on the International Space Station that has a table and they can strap around the table and eat together," Grace told the Madame Mars team in an interview earlier this year. "They have Velcro on the food and they can stick it on the table."
If that doesn't sound festive enough...
"We do send coffee and we do send chocolate into flight."
 Learn much more about Grace Douglas and how she is developing meals for Mars in our documentary Madame Mars: Women and the Quest for Worlds Beyond.
The Madame Mars team wishes you a happy holiday season!
Look for our next newsletter in January.
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Earlier editions:

October 10, 2014 (400kb)
November 4, 2014 (425kb)
November 25, 2014 (580kb)
December 18, 2014 (843kb)
Copyright © 2015 Madame Mars Project/Documentary Film Institute, All rights reserved.

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