From 2011 to 2015, the Physics of the Cosmos (PCOS) Program joined with the Cosmic Origins (COR) Program to develop Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) activities. The PCOS/COR E/PO team worked to create a portfolio of activities highlighting the science goals and themes of the PCOS and COR programs. The E/PO Team was led by members of the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) E/PO group at NASA/Goddard.
Explosions, collisions, births, and deaths—the Universe presents astronomers with an abundance of puzzles to analyze. Scientists are keen to solve the mysteries of these events and explore the origins, evolution, and mechanics of our Universe. But these events may have happened millions or billions of years ago, and trillions of kilometers from Earth. The primary evidence astronomers can collect is electromagnetic radiation—light. The NASA Space Forensics project takes audiences through astronomy problem-solving narratives that parallel crime scene forensics. The "corpse" could be a massive star that ended its life in a brilliant supernova explosion. The "theft" might involve stellar material, swirling into an unseen singularity at the center of a galaxy.
Space Forensics is an expansion of a successful pilot teacher's workshop, developed in 2007 for Imagine the Universe, which took teachers and students through the "crime scene" left after the supernova explosion of Cassiopeia A. In 2012, we will be developing several additional Space Forensics cases with classroom activities and educator guides to accompany each narrative. Beginning in 2013, we will produce an interactive website to make these cases and activities available to wider audiences, challenging armchair crime-solvers to explore the mysteries of the universe.
The key questions driving the PCOS/COR programs are "How does the Universe work?" and "How did we get here?" Many PCOS/COR science topics—black holes, supernovae, dark energy, dark matter, and gravitational waves—involve compelling questions that interest scientists and the public alike. The Space Forensics project will allow teachers, students, and the public to engage in the science of PCOS/COR missions and interact with authentic data, imagery, and problem-solving techniques used by NASA scientists.
NASA Blueshift shares groundbreaking discoveries, innovative technology, new missions, and other exciting stories through blogs, podcasts, videos, and social networks. From 2011 to 2015, the PCOS/COR E/PO team partnered with NASA Blueshift to bring to light the diverse portfolio of missions engaged in research about our exciting, ever-changing universe.