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    • By NASA
      FAIRMONT – Competitive Robotics in West Virginia has reached an all-time high with more teams across the state than ever before.
      The West Virginia Robotics Alliance, managed by the Education Resource Center (ERC) team at the NASA Katherine Johnson IV&V Facility, released new data for the 2023-24 Robotics Season that shows a peak in the number of teams and steady growth over the last several years.
      Number of Robotics Teams in WV “The ERC assumed management of the FIRST LEGO League tournament in 2011 when we had barely 50 teams in West Virginia,” ERC Program Manager Dr. Todd Ensign said. “Today, there are over 550 teams that engage approximately 3,000 students almost daily!”
      According to the data, the overall number of robotics teams in the state has risen every year since 2011 – with one exception during the 2020-21 season when the COVID-19 pandemic impacted participation.
      The ERC now runs qualifying events every weekend, numerous state championships, invitational tournaments, and international competitions. Ensign and many other figures within the ERC and Robotics Alliance have championed robotics events and opportunities for students across the state, including in some of its most rural communities, to help reach this point.
      “This is indeed an achievement on behalf of the students, coaches, parents, schools and districts who are supporting competitive robotics,” Ensign said.
      With such exponential growth, Ensign says more volunteers are needed to support current and future events. Positions are available for people of all ages and levels of prior experience. To learn more about how to volunteer, visit https://www.wvrobot.org/volunteer.
      A major development in West Virginia’s robotics landscape came in 2021 when the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission (WVSSAC) recognized robotics as a co-curricular activity. This update made it possible for students to receive a varsity letter in robotics, gaining recognition similar to those earned in marching band or other sports.
      When the WVSSAC recognition was announced, many at the ERC had high hopes for what it would mean to further STEM and robotics in West Virginia.
      “We hope recognition from the WVSSAC will increase the number of schools throughout West Virginia participating in competitive robotics,” John Holbrook, of the ERC, said at the time. “Ultimately, our goal is to see robotics teams from every county of West Virginia.”
      And with the new milestone reached in participation, those goals are closer than ever before. Many events are upcoming as the 2023-24 robotics season continues, including what is set to be the largest VEX State Championship in West Virginia history, March 10-16, at the Fairmont State University Falcon Center and the WVSSAC Robotics State Championship, April 6, at Herbert Hoover High School, in Elkview, West Virginia.
      For a full list of upcoming events: WV Robotics Alliance – Upcoming Events
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    • By NASA
      The first crew to take part in a yearlong NASA Mars analog mission reached a milestone of 100 days inside the 1,700-square-foot habitat on October 3.
      The four person, volunteer crew entered the CHAPEA (Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog) habitat at NASA’s Johnson Space center in Houston on June 25 to begin a 378-day Mars surface simulation.
      Throughout their mission, the crew is carrying out different types of mission activities future astronauts will take part in during a human Mars mission, including simulated spacewalks, robotic operations, habitat maintenance, personal hygiene, exercise, and crop growth.
      While the CHAPEA crew is also simulating Mars-realistic communication delay of up to 22-minutes one-way, they have periodically captured and shared images of their experience.
      Nathan Jones, CHAPEA mission 1 medical officer, gives Anca Selariu, CHAPEA mission 1 science officer, the first haircut inside the simulated Mars habitat.NASA/CHAPEA crew Nathan Jones participates in a simulated “Marswalk” inside the 1,200 square foot sandbox, which is connected to the habitat through an airlock.NASA/CHAPEA crew CHAPEA crew members Ross Brockwell and Anca Selariu complete geology work using the glovebox inside the habitat.NASA/CHAPEA crew NASA is leading a return to the Moon for long-term science and exploration. Through Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. Lessons learned on and around the Moon and activities like CHAPEA on the ground will prepare NASA for the next giant leap: sending astronauts to Mars.

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      Air Force Materiel Command today recognized a year of fully providing Servicing Major Command support to Airmen supporting the U.S. Space Force.

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      Air Force Materiel Command today recognized a year of fully providing Servicing Major Command support to Airmen supporting the U.S. Space Force.

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