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SaSa Learning Activities
Students of the 2022 SaSa class stand in a cockpit, learning from a NASA airman as part of a training module. Module 1
The first module starts with a two-week introductory summer workshop at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and Howard University Beltsville Campus research facility in Beltsville, Maryland Immediately after the workshop, there is a one-week, hands-on training on remote sensing/satellite application to disaster monitoring (ex. smoke from forest fires, volcanic plumes, desert dust storms, chemical spills, tornadoes and hurricanes, etc.) using the Direct Broadcast System Antenna Receiving and Data Analyses System at Hampton University. Module 2
Students participate in a three-week field deployment based out of the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, where participants will be involved in all aspects of a scientific field campaign; from detailed planning for achieving mission objectives to flying on NASA aircraft and assisting in instrument operation and field validation at selected sites. Module 3
The final module is focused on processing and analyzing the collected field data and presenting early results to peers, mentors, and other stakeholders based at UMBC. Participants are provided academic advisement and mentorship support until graduation, to help improve student retention and assure timely progress to graduation.
Last Updated Nov 22, 2023 Related Terms
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Inspiring the Next Generation with Student Challenges and Learning Opportunities
Creativity and curiosity are strongly tied to NASA’s missions and vision. Many of the agency’s public opportunities foster these traits by engaging students and educators. Participants of all ages and levels, from kindergarten to college, used their imaginations and enthusiasm to solve open innovation challenges related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in fiscal years 2021-2022.
Advancing and Encouraging Aerospace Careers
Multiple NASA programs partnered with Starburst Accelerator in Los Angeles to launch the 2022 Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) Space Accelerator Competition. This opportunity set out to engage underrepresented academic communities and help NASA make advancements in the areas of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the development of autonomous systems. Three selected winning teams received $50,000 prizes and were enrolled in a 10-week accelerator program, operated by Starburst, to help them prepare to commercialize their proposals. The winning teams also participated in trainings with mentors at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern, California.
“The goal is not only to invest in the best ideas from MSIs, but to diversify our supplier base in the long term,” said former NASA Associate Administrator for Technology, Policy, and Strategy Bhavya Lal.
The 2021 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concept Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) Competition asked undergraduate and graduate teams to develop new, innovative concepts that could improve our ability to operate in space. The themes ranged from designing a habitat that can support a crew for 30 days at the lunar South Pole, to developing a Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) concept that can deliver a crew from the surface of Mars to a low Mars orbit, to designing architectures to visit Venus and Ceres.
Based on concepts outlined in their technical papers, fourteen university teams were selected to present at the 2021 RASC-AL Forum, receiving a $6,000 stipend each to help fund participation. The winning teams from the forum, University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez and University of Texas at Austin, received an additional travel stipend to present their respective concepts, Discovery and Endeavour – Ceres Interplanetary Pathway for Human Exploration and Research (DECIPHER) and Regolith-Volatile Extraction and Return Expedition (ReVERE), at the AIAA ASCEND aerospace conference.
Students in grades 6-12 participated in NASA’s TechRise Student Challenge, in which teams worked together to design and build science and technology experiments ahead of suborbital flight tests. In the first challenge, students submitted ideas for experiments that would work on a suborbital rocket with a few minutes of microgravity or a high-altitude balloon with exposure to Earth’s atmosphere and planetary views. In the second challenge, the teams focused solely on high-altitude balloon experiment ideas. Across both years, 117 teams of approximately 1,100 students total were selected to win the challenge, which offered hands-on insight into the design and test process used by NASA-supported researchers.
Artemis Student Challenges
Photographic coverage of NASA Spacesuit User Interface Technologies for Students (NASA SUITS) Onsite Test Week (OSTEM) The annual Spacesuit User Interface Technologies for Students (SUITS) Challenge asks U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to design and create spacesuit information displays within augmented reality (AR) environments. During a moonwalk, astronauts will rely on a variety of assets, including their spacesuits, life support systems, geology tools, power systems, and more. An AR display as part of the spacesuit could transform astronauts’ ability to live and work in space by providing data on their assets, potentially enhancing performance, workload, and situational awareness. The students’ contributions will aid the work of NASA’s Human Interface Branch, which supports the agency’s human spaceflight programs, including Artemis, the International Space Station, and commercial partner programs.
The Lunabotics Challenge is an opportunity for teams of U.S. university students to engage with the systems engineering process by designing, building, and operating a lunar robot. The teams also conduct public outreach, submit systems engineering papers, and demonstrate their work to a NASA review panel. This challenge is designed to pursue innovations that could be applied to future NASA missions, including Artemis. Awards include scholarship funds, with the top prize of $5,000 awarded to the University of Alabama team in 2022.
Lucia Grisanti and Shriya Sawant, NASA’s two national winners for the 2022 Lunabotics Junior contest Two Lunabotics Jr. Challenges also took place in 2022 with separate divisions for grades K-5 and grades 6-12. One national winner from each grade division was selected from approximately 2,300 submitted designs. The prize for the two winners was a virtual discussion for their classrooms with Janet Petro, the director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The Breakthrough, Innovative, and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge taps into the ingenuity of undergraduate and graduate students to help advance capabilities and technologies that could support future NASA missions. Students gain real world experience by incorporating their coursework into aerospace design concepts and working in a team environment. In 2021, teams tackled the challenge of lunar dust and designed, built, and tested their solutions in a simulated lunar environment using nearly $1 million in funding across all teams from NASA and National Space Grant College and Fellowship consortia. The top prize Artemis Award went to Washington State University, whose concept uses a liquid cryogen spray bar and a handheld sprayer to clean dust from spacesuits.
Every fall, NASA’s Student Launch accepts proposals from U.S. students from middle school to higher education to participate in a hands-on competition to design, build, launch, and fly payloads and components on high-power rockets in support of NASA research. The challenge that launched in Fall 2022 concluded in April 2023 with the launch of more than 40 rockets, each carrying a scientific payload nearly one-mile-high above ground level.
“As a young woman, it’s important to be seen leading a team, managing resources, and meeting critical deadlines with NASA,” said Sindhu Belki, an aerospace engineering major from the University of Alabama. “I’m glad NASA provides this opportunity to be a role model to girls and women interested in space exploration.”
Following two years of virtual events, high school and college teams compete in NASA’s Student Launch rocketry competition April 23. Both high school and higher education students participated in the Human Exploration Rover Challenge, an annual competition that asks students to engineer and test human-powered vehicles designed to drive on otherworldly surfaces. Teams competed based on navigating a half-mile obstacle course, conducting mission-specific task challenges, and completing safety and design reviews with NASA engineers. The 2023 competition, which opened in August 2022, included student teams from 16 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, as well as several international teams. Escambia High School of Pensacola, Florida, and University of Alabama in Huntsville placed first in their divisions.
“By operating within real-world constraints, students gain authentic knowledge to better imagine and develop innovative technologies which could be used in future NASA missions,” said Kevin McGhaw, Director, NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement Southeast Region.
Students competing in NASA’s 2022 Human Exploration Rover Challenge work on building their rover. Storytelling for Science and Space
The NASA Earth Science in Action Comic Strip Contest invited high school students and the general public over 18 years old to use their artistic abilities to tell Earth science success stories from three story prompts. Each of the prompts highlighted how NASA’s satellite data supported communities and ecosystems at risk. The contest was designed to inspire participants and readers to learn how NASA Earth science makes a difference to communities around the world. The winners received publicity and recognition from the SciArt Exchange and NASA.
The future of space exploration is in good hands.”
Associate Administrator for the NASA Office of STEM Engagement
The first and second Power to Explore Student Writing Challenges were open to K-12 students in fiscal years 2021 and 2022 to encourage students to learn more about Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS). The first challenge asked students to learn how RPS provide power at the extremes of our solar system, then to celebrate their own unique power, with 30 total winning essays. The second challenge asked students to dream up a new RPS-powered space mission based on their research. Out of 45 semifinalists, three finalists in each grade category (K-4, 5-8, 9-12) were invited to discuss their mission concepts with a NASA scientist or engineer during an exclusive virtual event. From the finalists, three winners were selected from each category.
The Artemis Moon Pod Essay Contest sought creative concepts from K-12 students describing an imagined journey to the Moon – including their crew and the technology they would leave on the lunar surface to help future astronauts. Nearly 14,000 students competed, with three grand prize winners in each of the grade categories (K-4, 5-8, 9-12) winning a trip to view the Artemis I launch at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“I can’t tell you how inspiring and energizing it’s been to read these essays and see the students’ enthusiasm and creativity in action,” said Mike Kincaid, NASA’s associate administrator for the Office of STEM Engagement. “The future of space exploration is in good hands.”
Last Updated Nov 07, 2023 Related Terms
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NASA ASTRO CAMP® Sets New Record While Providing STEM Opportunities
Another year equals another record as NASA’s ASTRO CAMP® initiative reached across the nation and beyond to help a broad spectrum of students learn about NASA and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
A NASA ASTRO CAMP® participant engages with a NASA STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) activity at the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Arizona Science Center The NASA ASTRO CAMP® Community Partners (ACCP) program surpassed previous milestone marks during fiscal year 2023 by partnering with 331 community sites, including 31 outside the United States, to inspire youth, families, and educators. Participants included students from various population segments, focusing on students from underrepresented groups, accessibility for differently-abled students, and reaching under-resourced urban and rural settings.
“We honor the schools and organizations that have created programs to inspire and encourage young people who may be interested in a future career in STEM,” said Kelly Martin-Rivers, principal investigator for NASA’s ACCP. “Many STEM programs are not recognized for their success, dedication, and mentorship for underrepresented students. ACCP partner sites provide a minimum of 30 hours of NASA STEM activities, and we are proud to honor these programs for bringing quality STEM programs and open access to students everywhere.”
In addition to reaching communities across the country during the most-recent fiscal year, the NASA ACCP program partnered with international sites in Qatar, Ecuador, Mexico, India, Ukraine, and Spain. Overall, more than 115,000 students took part in the program, a more than 300% increase from the 35,000-plus who participated the previous year.
A NASA ASTRO CAMP® participant shows his handmade satellite at the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Arizona Science Center A NASA ASTRO CAMP® participant looks at a model of NASA’s powerful SLS (Space Launch System) rocket at an event in Sugarland, Texas. STEM Pioneers An additional 74,454 students took part in special STEM activities, also an increase from the previous year’s total of almost 44,000. ACCP trained 1,160 facilitators during the fiscal year as well.
As part of the NASA Science Mission Directorate Science Activation program, ACCP continues making strides to bridge disparities and break barriers in STEM. A breakdown of participants from the most-recent year includes 30,828 African American students, 24,285 Hispanic students, 6,928 Asian students, and 1,300 Native American students. Half (51%) of all participants were elementary students, with the remainder split among middle school (28%) and high school (21%) students. A bit more than half (53%) of participants were male.
ACCP activities offer real-world opportunities for students to enhance scientific understanding and contribute to NASA science missions, while also inspiring lifelong learning. The ACCP theme was “2023 NASA Science…Discovering Our Future Together!” The program featured materials and activities related to NASA science missions, astrophysics, heliophysics, Earth science, and planetary science.
The unique methodology teaches students to work collaboratively to complete missions and provides trained community educators to implement the themed NASA modules, developed by the ACCP team, seated at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
ASTRO CAMP began at NASA Stennis as a single one-week camp in the 1990s. Since then, it has developed into several adaptable models for schools, museums, universities, libraries, and youth service organizations, enabling a worldwide expansion.
For more information about becoming a NASA ASTRO CAMP Collaborative Community Partner, contact: Kelly Martin-Rivers at email@example.com or 228-688-1500; or Maria Lott at firstname.lastname@example.org or 228-688-1776.
For more on the ASTRO CAMP Collaborative Community Partner Program, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/stennis/stem-engagement-at-stennis/nasa-accp/.
Last Updated Nov 03, 2023 Editor Contact Location Stennis Space Center Related Terms
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Lynn Bassford Prioritizes Learning as a Hubble Mission Manager
Name: Lynn Bassford
Title: Hubble Space Telescope Mission Flight Operations Manager
Formal Job Classification: Multifunctional Engineering and Science Manager
Organization: Astrophysics Project Division, Hubble Space Telescope Operations Project, Code 441
Lynn Bassford’s long career enables her to keep learning. “It’s just a fact of my life to learn something new every day until the day I die,” she says. “I’m not happy being stagnant.”NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Tim Childers What do you do and what is most interesting about your role here at Goddard? How do you help support Goddard’s mission?
I help Goddard’s Hubble Space Telescope Mission Operations Team to make sure that we’re taking care of the health and safety of the spacecraft. This includes commanding and playing back data from Hubble and working with the ground system and subsystems engineering teams to coordinate procedures, train people, schedule everyone, and manage resources.
How did you find your path to Goddard?
I graduated and wasn’t quite sure where a physics major would go for a position. So, I picked up a copy of Physics Today, went through every company in there, and sent out my résumé. After sending approximately 200, an application came back from Lockheed. It said to fill it out and send it to the Lockheed closest to you. There were 10 different locations, so I sent it to all 10. One day, there was a message on the answering machine that said, “Hey, Lynn, just wondering if you would like to work on a telescope in space for NASA.” The person who called, his name sounded like “Mr. Adventure,” and I gave him a call back and found out his name was Mr. Ed Venter. I can’t help but think it’s pretty cool, actually, because it has indeed been a great adventure!
What is your favorite part of working at Goddard?
Working with the spacecraft! Physically sending a command up and seeing it come back is just utterly amazing.
Over the years, I’ve had the luck of being able to meet several astronauts that have gone up in our servicing missions. In a couple cases, we had them visit us in the middle of the night on our long shifts. Meeting them is like meeting a rock star.
What first sparked your interest in space? Space was a combination of sci-fi and reality. The Apollo 11 Moon landing took place a couple of months after I was born, so my dad and I like to say that I was in front of the TV watching and it just got absorbed into my persona. One day, I saw Sally Ride up working in space and the TV said she had a background in physics, so I did physics.
Lynn Bassford says her favorite part of working at Goddard has always been working directly with the Hubble Space Telescope. “Physically sending a command up and seeing it come back is just utterly amazing,” she says.Courtesy of Lynn Bassford What is your educational background?
I was always very good at science and math and absolutely loved them. In middle school, I wanted to do astrogeology, but everyone I talked to said I kind of made that up. Now it’s all around the place! I went to University of Lowell for physics, which became UMass at Lowell. I ended up working for a physics professor who was also the head of the astronomy department.
You’ve held many roles over your years at Goddard. How do you feel that they’ve contributed to your current role as a manager?
Everything I’ve done aligns. I learn from everyone at all levels that I interact with. I did eight-and-a-half years of rotating shift work with flight operations, and I made sure that I moved across the room from console to console learning the different areas. Then I went into science instruments system engineering for over five years, where I became the lead. Then I moved into this role in mission operations, which combines those but also brings in employee performance, career growth, safety, diversity and inclusion, and engagement. Understanding what each area does and how they work together helps you optimize everything. It’s just a fact of my life to learn something new every day until the day I die. I’m not happy being stagnant.
How do you manage stressful situations when working with the telescope?
I don’t even think about how stressful it is because of the training I had in those early days: working with and learning from the experts about what you look at, who you call, what you do, and how to keep the telescope in a safe condition. Even during issues or service missions, we’re actually a very calm team.
What is your proudest accomplishment at Goddard?
When I was a Flight Operations Team shift supervisor in charge of my own crew for Hubble, on Jan. 6, 1996, we got hit with a three-foot snowstorm. Back in those days, we were on rotating shift work. When I left work that day, there was a light layer of snow, so I went home and collected whatever I could in the house for food, knowing there were at least five people on-site that might not go home. I drove back to work with half-a-foot of snow. Seven people stayed for two-and-a-half days straight. We pulled the foam coverings off the walls, piled them up in layers, and made a mattress out of it. We put it in one of the warmer inner offices so we could take turns sleeping eight hours and splitting 16 hours between working real-time operations and moving our vehicles from lot to lot for the Goddard snowplows. NASA gave us a small award afterwards.
Lynn Bassford and the 1996 Hubble flight operations team received an award for keeping Hubble running during a three-foot snowstorm. “Seven people stayed for two-and-a-half days straight,” Lynn recalls.NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center What is the coolest part of your job?
Hubble’s mission is just generally the coolest. It’s helping to discover, and to rewrite science books. Helping humanity discover what’s out there and move forward into the universe is groundbreaking.
What advice would you give to people looking to have jobs at Goddard?
For students, make sure you work hard even though college can be quite a challenge. That’s the intention – to get you thinking in all different ways and broaden your mind. Don’t give up, even when it’s challenging.
For workers, diversifying your interests and not specializing in one area will make you open to a lot of different opportunities that you might not know about. You need to keep learning in order to be the best asset to an employer.
Do you have a favorite space or Hubble fact?
Hubble is a green telescope! We had solar panels before houses did.
Lynn Bassford frequently helps out with Hubble outreach. “Hubble’s mission is just generally the coolest,” she says. “Helping humanity discover what’s out there and move forward into the universe is groundbreaking.” Courtesy of Jim Jeletic How do you like to spend your time outside of work?
My dedication to work and family takes up most of my time, admittedly. If I can fit it in, I like to walk outside, do artwork that involves Hubble, and do challenging sports like white water rafting and bungee jumping.
In the ’90s, I played on the men’s softball team at Goddard. I was a pitcher for the Hubble team.
What is your “six-word memoir”? A six-word memoir describes something in just six words. We’re all made of stardust, IDIC. IDIC stands for infinite diversity in infinite combinations – it comes from Star Trek’s Spock.
Conversations With Goddard is a collection of Q&A profiles highlighting the breadth and depth of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s talented and diverse workforce. The Conversations have been published twice a month on average since May 2011. Read past editions on Goddard’s “Our People” webpage.
By Hannah Richter
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
Last Updated Oct 17, 2023 Related Terms
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Nelson Morales (left), Janette C. Briones (center), and Azlin Biaggi-Labiosa at NASA Glenn Research Center’s Aerospace Communications Facility in October 2023.Credit: NASA/Sara Lowthian-Hanna Three employees from NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland have been chosen to receive awards that recognize the achievements of outstanding Hispanic engineers, scientists, and STEM professionals.
Janette C. Briones, Azlin Biaggi-Labiosa, and Nelson Morales will be presented with Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Award Corporation (HENAAC) and Luminary awards during the Great Minds in STEM conference in Pasadena, California, held from Oct. 11 through 14.
Learn more about the NASA Glenn honorees and each of their recognitions:
Nelson Morales, chief of NASA Glenn’s Structural Mechanics Branch, has been chosen as a 2023 Luminary. This award recognizes Hispanic innovators who are engineering the future while lighting the way for the next generation of STEM leaders. Luminaries are chosen for their achievements leading, collaborating, and initiating key programs and research in their respective fields. “It’s an honor to receive this award because we want to be role models for the Hispanic community,” Morales said. “I am thankful for all of the people who have helped and supported me throughout the years and have made this possible.” Credit: NASA/Sara Lowthian-Hanna
Janette C. Briones
Janette C. Briones, project manager and principal investigator for NASA Glenn’s Cognitive Communications Project, has received the 2023 HENAAC Professional Achievement I (Government) award. The HENAAC award recognizes leaders, innovators, and champions who contribute to the Hispanic community at the highest levels of academia, government, military, and corporate America. “It’s something that I wasn’t expecting; there are so many outstanding engineers,” Briones said of being chosen for the award. “I’m very grateful that I have received it, and I have worked hard for it.”Credit: NASA/Sara Lowthian-Hanna
Azlin Biaggi-Labiosa, NASA Glenn’s manager for the Foundational Electrified Aircraft Propulsion Subproject, has received the 2023 HENAAC Outstanding Technical Achievement (Government) award. The HENAAC award recognizes leaders, innovators, and champions who contribute to the Hispanic community at the highest levels of academia, government, military, and corporate America. “It feels great to be honored and appreciated,” Biaggi-Labiosa said. “It validates all the work that I put in these 14 years [at NASA].” Credit: NASA/Sara Lowthian-Hanna
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