Monday, June 16, 2014

Students and educators visit Virginia's Eastern Shore to launch rocket

Students and educators from across the United States will become "rocket scientists" during a workshop at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia this month.

The seventh annual RockOn! workshop, conducted in partnership with the Colorado and Virginia Space Grant Consortia, will provide 61 community college and university students and instructors the opportunity to learn how to build a scientific payload for a suborbital rocket flight.

During RockOn!, participants will learn the basics of experiment design including programming and electronics. The students will construct experiments to measure acceleration, spin rate, radiation, humidity, pressure and temperature during a rocket flight.

Their experiments, built in only three days, will then be incorporated into a rocket payload for launch on a Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding rocket at 5:30 a.m. EDT June 26. After flying to nearly 70 miles in altitude, the payload carrying the experiments will land in the Atlantic Ocean where it will be recovered. The participants are expected to have their experiments in hand later in the day to begin data analysis.

In addition to the RockOn! experiments, a group of more complex experiments from the RockSat-C program also will be flying on the sounding rocket. These experiments are developed by students, many of whom have participated in a previous RockOn! workshop, from Mitchell Community College, Statesville, North Carolina; West Virginia University, Morgantown; Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin; Temple University, Philadelphia; and Howard University in Washington.

About 50 students and instructors participating in RockSat-C will come to Wallops on Friday to begin their final experiment integration and to witness the launch.

In addition, more than 100 small cubes carrying experiments developed by pre-college students will launch with RockSat-C as part of the Cubes in Space program. Experiments vary from measuring changes in the electromagnetic field as the experiment moves through the ionosphere to determine whether the nano-computers would survive spaceflight, to observing the changes to the properties of a marshmallow as a result of the intense g-force of the launch. Cubes in Space is a partnership between Rubik Learning Initiative, idoodlesoftware inc. and the Colorado Space Grant Consortium.

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