Education: September 2009 Archives

First HD Camera At The Edge Of Space

"This is a clip of the VadoHD video camera at an altitude between 80,000 ft and 100,000 ft. The camera is attached to the payload of a research weather balloon. The balloon was launched from the lawn of the University of Houston and traveled approximately 20 miles East to Baytown TX before the balloon burst and the payload fell to Earth by parachute. The VadoHD survived ambient air pressures as low as 1/100th of an atmosphere, temperatures as low as -60C, and even survived being run over by an industrial lawn mower 1 week after falling to Earth. Incidentally we never would have found the payload if it hadn't been run over by this lawn mower. All of the data was intact on the camera and though a lawn mower blade destroyed the LCD screen, the VadoHD still takes great video!"

Today's Video: To The Edge of Space - For $148, earlier post

High-School Student Discovers Strange Astronomical Object

"A West Virginia high-school student analyzing data from a giant radio telescope has discovered a new astronomical object -- a strange type of neutron star called a rotating radio transient. Lucas Bolyard, a sophomore at South Harrison High School in Clarksburg, WV, made the discovery while participating in a project in which students are trained to scrutinize data from the National Science Foundation's giant Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope(GBT). The project, called the Pulsar Search Collaboratory (PSC), is a joint project of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and West Virginia University (WVU), funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. Bolyard made the discovery in March, after he already had studied more than 2,000 data plots from the GBT and found nothing."

Today's Educational Web Events

Challenger Center - SETI Institute Webcast on NASA's Kepler Mission today at 1:00 pm EDT at

RT @LPI_Library Chat with lunar scientist Dr. Jennifer Heldmann TONIGHT at 8 pm EDT

"We are a group of MIT students seeking to share the artistic aspects of science with others. On Sept. 2, 2009, we launched a digital camera into near-space to take photographs of the earth from high up above. (see "Flight") Several groups have accomplished similar feats (see "Other Launches"), but as far we know, we are the first group ever to:

(1) Complete such a launch on a budget of $150 total. All of our supplies (including camera, GPS tracking, weather balloon, and helium) were purchased for less than a grand total of $150.

(2) Create a launch vehicle without the use of any electronic hacking. We used off-the-shelf items exclusively (i.e., no electronic chips or soldering) to create our launch vehicle."


CosmoCam Prepares for Launch

Keith's note: CosmoCam is getting ready to launch the HASP payload (strato-balloon) from Ft. Sumner NM with CosmoCam onboard - see for more information and follow them on Twitter at @CosmoCam1

Bolden on Education

Most-precious resource for NASA: Next generation, Opinion, Charles Bolden, Orlando Sentinel

"Today, we must continue to cultivate new astronauts, scientists, robot designers and computer engineers. As President Obama noted in a recent speech to the National Academy of Sciences, the average age in NASA's Mission Control during the Apollo program was just 26. The average age in the control room for space shuttle Endeavour's July 31 landing was considerably older, and we need to ensure that we are getting an adequate influx of new engineers and scientists to fill our needs. This is a concern shared by many of the nation's engineering and science-related organizations. We need new scientists and engineers if we are to remain competitive and retain our role as the technological leaders in the world."

NASA GSFC Solicitation: MT-50 Touch Table

"NASA/GSFC intends to purchase the items from Ideum Inc. Competition is impractical because the Table was developed and designed by Ideum and other tables did not meet the needed standards."

NASA GSFC Solicitation: Magic Planet Tabletop With 18 and 24in Sphere

"NASA/GSFC has a requirement for QTY1, Magic Planet Tabletop with 18" and 24" sphere. NASA/GSFC intends to purchase the items from Global Imagination. Based on market research competition is impractical because Global Imagination is the sole supplier of the Magic Planet Sphere."

NASA GSFC Solicitation: Magic Planet Tabletop With 18in Sphere

"NASA/GSFC has a requirement for QTY2, Magic Planet Tabletop with 18" sphere. NASA/GSFC intends to purchase the items from Global Imagination. Competition is impractical because based on market research Global Imagination is the sole supplier of the Magic Planet."

NASA KSC Solicitation: Science on a Sphere Hardware and Accessories

"NASA/KSC has a requirement for computer hardware and accessories to operate Science on a Sphere (see attachment for items details). Science On a Sphere(R) is a large visualization system that uses computers and video projectors to display animated data onto the outside of a sphere. According to FAR 13.106-1(b) (1) the parts are deemed available from only one responsible source (Brand Name) and no other type of supplies will satisfy NASAs requirements. The brands specified for each item are the only brands acceptable to guarantee a fully functional system."

NASA DFRC Solicitation: Magic Planet Digital Video Globe

"The specifications are: Require two digital video globes that allow the projection of data sets on globes in real time. Such data sets include things such as global climate patterns, natural disasters, earth observing, etc."

Keith's note: Three separate field centers, GSFC, KSC, and DFRC, all have a sudden need for these interactive displays with a bunch of procurement activities all initiated within days - or hours - of each other. This is rather curious - and explanations are lacking - except for DFRC. DFRC's notice states that "The global spheres will be used for educational purposes. The intent is to have one large model in a stationary area such as the DFRC Visitor Center and one other sphere to use at different venues such as schools, libraries, or museums; therefore, the smaller sphere will have portability." GSFC and KSC do not explain why they need these specific displays.

Don't get me wrong: these displays are a very good way to show a lot of data - such as global climate and planetary mapping. If you want visitors and students to understand things like this they are an excellent means to do so. But why the hurry - all at once - to buy these things? Then again, it is getting close to the end of the fiscal year and money not spent is money that is lost - so buying some last minute gadgets is one way to spend that money. Too bad these sort of things are not a higher priority at NASA since many people still do not have a clue as to how NASA research affects their quality of life.

Challenger Center Welcomes New Board Members

"Challenger Center for Space Science Education announced today that astronauts Barbara Morgan and Richard Garriott and aerospace engineer Karolyn Young were elected to its Board of Directors at its recent annual conference held at the Buehler Challenger & Science Center in Paramus, New Jersey.

"We are looking forward to working with our new board members - each of these individuals brings unique experiences and skills that will help Challenger Center grow and to reach more children, inspiring them to pursue careers in science technology, education, and mathematics," said Challenger Center Board Chair William Readdy."



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This page is an archive of entries in the Education category from September 2009.

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