Students Gear Up for NASA Summer Experiences

Over the past six months, students across the country utilized the NASA Student On-Line Application for Recruiting (SOLAR) interns, fellows, and scholars system to apply for summer positions and scholarships. This “one-stop shop” system allows students to complete a single set of forms to apply to an array of positions across NASA. These positions include opportunities in the NASA Robotics Academy, the Student Internship Program (SIP), and the prestigious NASA Academy. Within the SOLAR system, both students and mentors may log in to apply for positions or find prospective matches for open positions, respectively.

NASA’s 2nd annual Lunabotics Mining Competition is being held at Kennedy Space Center May 23 – 28, 2011. This university-level competition is geared toward maintaining students in the STEM-related disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). According to NASA’s Lunabotics website: The challenge is for students to design and build a remote controlled or autonomous excavator, called a lunabot, that can collect and deposit a minimum of 10 kilograms of lunar simulant within 15 minutes. The complexities of the challenge include the abrasive characteristics of the lunar simulant, the weight and size limitations of the lunabot, and the ability to control the lunabot from a remote control center.

 Another NASA initiative is the RockOn Workshop, where student teams travel to Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia to learn to construct sounding rocket payloads through hands-on activities. This workshop is scheduled for June 18-23, 2011, where the payloads will be launched onboard a Terrier-Orion rocket. This initiative, organized by the Colorado and Virginia Space Grant Consortia, has seen success in the past few years with successful workshops held in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

Fourteen teams from the university level were selected for the summer 2011 flight season within the NASA Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program(RGSFOP). These teams designed an experiment, submitted a proposal, and were selected to fly their experiment onboard NASA’s Weightless Wonder Aircraft. According to the NASA RGSFOP website: The Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program provides a unique academic experience for undergraduate students to successfully propose, design, fabricate, fly and evaluate a reduced gravity experiment of their choice over the course of four-six months. The overall experience includes scientific research, hands-on experimental design, test operations and educational/public outreach activities. This campaign will take place over the summer at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

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