Would you trust a 16-year-old in space? NASA evidently does. Just after the sun rose on the East Coast on Jan. 11, astronauts aboard the International Space Station ran computer instructions, written by high school students, in bowling ball-size satellites floating inside the ISS cabin, Space.com reports. The students’ code told the satellites exactly where to go to complete challenges such as spitting out dust clouds and avoiding obstacles. Ceding control of small satellites to students is part of an annual competition called the Zero Robotics SPHERES Challenge, which is hosted by NASA, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Today’s run is the Zero Robotics finals. Those interested can watch a live broadcast of the event. Fifteen teams from the United States and Europe are competing to get their satellites to perform tasks related to cleaning up space junk……Read More
Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, died Monday (July 23) at the age of 61, Space.com reports. Ride made history when she launched aboard the space shuttle Challenger on the STS-7 mission in 1983. She became only the third woman to ever travel in space, after Soviet cosmonauts Valentina Tereshkova in 1963 and Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982. Ride traveled into space once more in 1984, as a member of the STS-41G crew on the space shuttle Challenger. Over the course of her career, Ride logged a total of 343 hours in space. Sally Ride’s death came after 17 months of battling pancreatic cancer. Here are some tributes to Sally Ride from astronauts, scientists, historians, industry officials and other luminaries……Read More
An old NASA idea for keeping astronauts cool could finally become reality. U.S. high school students recently won $5,000 to make spacesuit undergarments using materials that can absorb heat without changing temperature, Space.com reports. Today’s NASA astronauts must wear stretchy underwear with 300 feet of tubes carrying chilled water to avoid overheating during long spacewalks. The students from West Salem High School in Oregon proposed making lighter undergarments by using phase-changing crystals—materials that are able to stay the same temperature during phase changes (such as solid ice melting into liquid water).
“If you stitch phase-changing crystals into clothing, you could also design phase-changing crystals to only change at a certain temperature,” said Michael Lampert, a physics teacher at West Salem High School and coach of the “Infinity” student team. “You could go on a spacewalk and not have the problem of carrying a liquid-cooled ventilation system.”
The huge asteroid 2005 YU55 was small and dim in the sky during its close Earth approach yesterday (Nov. 8), but a handful of high-school students helped it blaze bright on computer screens around the world, Space.com reports. The Clay Center Observatory in Brookline, Mass., tracked 2005 YU55 with its 25-inch (64-centimeter) telescope as the big space rock flew by Earth Tuesday evening, then webcast the resulting images live around the world. And three high school kids from Brookline’s Dexter School were in charge of making it happen.
“We’re running the telescope and viewing and taking pictures of the asteroid,” junior Sam Lapides told SPACE.com on Tuesday. “There are some advisers who are helping us if we run into any problems. But overall, it is student-based and student-run.”