Welcome to the Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium's Website!
As one of 52 members of the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, our mission is to expand opportunities for Pennsylvanians to learn about and participate in NASA’s aeronautics and space programs by supporting and enhancing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, research, and outreach programs.
click here for more of Dr. Christopher House's welcome message.
Balloons Into Eclipse
On August 21, 2017, the Montana Space Grant Consortium is hosting a program called “Balloons into Eclipse”. On this date, the continental U.S. will experience its first total eclipse since 1979. Teams of students will conduct high altitude balloon flights from 9-12 locations along the path of the total eclipse, from Oregon to South Carolina. These balloons will capture live video and images of the eclipse from near space, and send them to the NASA website. In addition to the primary camera, each team will fly a secondary payload of their choice.
- 2015: fundraise, organize, participant selection, develop common payload
- December 2015: distribute common camera/tracking payload kits
- Summer 2016: virtual workshops to test common payloads
- 2015 – 2017: develop secondary payloads
- June 2017: dry run with at least one flight per location
Currently this effort is focused on college teams associated with Space Grant consortia, but has the potential for expansion should support be available.
For more information visit:
NASA Solicitation Notice
Undergraduate Student Instrument Project /2015 Student Flight Research Opportunity for Undergraduate Students
NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD), along with the Ofice of Education (OE) National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program (Space Grant), plans to release an Undergraduate Student Instrument Project (USIP) Student Flight Research Opportunity (SFRO) to solicit proposals from U.S. institutions of higher education. Funding will be available through the Office of Education and the Science Mission Directorate.
The cost cap for projects awarded through the Office of Education will be $200k. Funding from the Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium will ONLY be awarded through selection by the Director, Dr. Chris House.
The cost cap for projects awarded through the Science Mission Directorate will be $100k. This funding is available to all U.S. institutions of higher education.
- late July: SFRO release date
- September 2015: Q&A telecon
- October 2015: notice of intent deadline
- November 2015: proposal submittal deadline
- December 2015: selections announced (target)
- August 1, 2017: launch readiness
For more information, click here
PA Space Grant Sponsored Project Explodes Aboard CRS-7
On June 28, 2015, SpaceX launched its seventh cargo resupply mission, CRS-7, to the International Space Station. Unfortunately, the rocket experienced an abnormality and disintegrated 139 seconds into flight. Aboard CRS-7 were 25 Student Spaceflight Experiment Program (SSEP) experiments. A Pennsylvania Space Grant sponsored experiment, designed by students from the Iroquois School District in Erie, PA, was among the projects lost. The goal of the experiment was to determine the effect of microgravity on the human Vestibular system, which manages balance and orientation, by using the statocyst system of sea stars as a model. SSEP Program Director Jeff Goldstein has assured that all lost student experiments will be re-flown.
Jacksonwald Lava Flow
Three undergraduate students from West Chester University – Emma Leflar, Michael Noone, and Danielle Olsen – are working with Dr. LeeAnn Srogi and Dr. Tim Lutz on a 201-million-year-old lava flow near Reading, Pennsylvania (the Jacksonwald lava flow). A few small outcrops are all that remain of flood basalts that covered the landscape of southeastern Pennsylvania as the supercontinent Pangaea was drifting apart and the modern Atlantic Ocean was being born. While there are extensive exposures of the basalts in New Jersey and Connecticut, only two lava flows remain visible in Pennsylvania – one of which is in Jacksonwald. The rocks are famous for another reason – they are folded, which is a very unusual style of deformation for rocks that formed in a rift basin. Several published studies and master’s theses have been written about the Jacksonwald syncline (as the fold is known) but the most recent description of the actual lava rocks was done by Dr. Edgar T. Wherry at the University of Pennsylvania in 1910.
The students at West Chester have documented the presence of pillow basalts, which indicate that the lava flowed into standing water. Dr. Wherry’s paper states that he found no evidence for this – so this is a brand-new finding! Scanning electron microscope with energy-dispersive x-ray analysis are being used to provide chemical analyses of the mineral phenocrysts, any glass that remains, and the minerals filling the gas bubbles (vesicles) in the lava flow. These data will be used to compare the lava with the underlying intrusive rocks that formed the “plumbing system” of the rift volcanoes, and to better understand the composition of hydrothermal fluids circulating through the rocks. The group will submit an abstract this summer for the students to present at the annual national meeting of the Geological Society of America in Baltimore, MD in November, 2015.
Lava research group on the rocks in the snow, 1 Feb 2015, L to R: Danielle Olsen, LeeAnn Srogi, Emma Leflar, Michael Noone
Emma Leflar measuring the orientation of a tilted basalt column
Our pillow basalts; pillows outlined in pink chalk; Emma’s hand with scale
Photomicrograph of basalt lava near the bottom of the flow, viewed with crossed polars, width of field about 2 mm, photo by Danielle Olsen
Photomicrograph of minerals that filled in a gas bubble near the top of the flow, viewed with crossed polars, width of field about 4 mm, photo by Danielle Olsen
Alex Wilkinson, senior at Philipsburg-Osceola Area High School made a visit to NASTAR on April 20th to meet Greg Kennedy, Director of Educational Programs and Ben Filippini.
Temple Robotics on the move!
Here's the challenge: Build a robotic mouse that can quickly find its own way out of a never-before-seen maze. A trio of Temple University engineering students has won an award for designing such a robot.
"What the robot does, is it has a few sensors on it that allow it to autonomously navigate a maze, and then map that maze to solve it in the fastest time possible," said junior James Novino, a member of the team that competed last weekend at this year's Robotics Olympiad at Brown University.
Along with fellow electrical engineering student Abby Sydnes, Norvino focused on the coding and algorithm design. Junior Jake Holohan took the lead on the mechanical side.
"Based on how the algorithm is written, and based on the shortest distance as it maps the maze, it will determine which direction [the robot] should go," explained Sydnes, who is a sophomore.
While the robot didn't win the timed race, Novino said that 3D printing allowed them to quickly test prototypes, and the team's presentation of their process won them the excellence in design award.
"We went through the iterations of our design, showed that we used 3D modeling software, showed some of the calculations and some of the different algorithms we had started working on and then ruled them out," he said.
The students' advisor, John Helferty, is proud of the success.
"You're going up against Ivy-league schools and to win a design competition, I thought was phenomenal," he said. "They put in the hours, they put in the time, and this was the ultimate payoff for it."
Next year, the same group will compete again, and they aim to bring back more awards.
World View Balloon Lofts Gannon University’s payload entitled the Cosmic Ray Calorimeter (GU-CRC) as part of NASA Experiments to Near-Space Heights
Gannon University’s high-altitude ballooning payload was flown on March 12, 2015 to observe characteristics of cosmic rays in near space.
Internal View of the GU-CRC
For more news coverage, see below:
:: Website updated: 04/19/2015
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