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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
      View the full article
    • By Space Force
      During his visit, Allvin discussed Great Power Competition and how Air Force leaders are implementing major changes centered on how they develop people, generate readiness, project power and develop integrated capabilities.

      View the full article
    • By Space Force
      During his visit, Allvin discussed Great Power Competition and how Air Force leaders are implementing major changes centered on how they develop people, generate readiness, project power and develop integrated capabilities.

      View the full article
    • By NASA
      2 min read
      UNITE All-Nighter Delights Amateur Astronomers
      Fadi Saibi and his daughter Sophie, age 14, pose for a photograph with their Unistellar telescope in their backyard in Sunnyvale, Calif., on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024. Credit: Bay Area News Group/Nhat V. Meye Maybe you read about them in the papers–amateur astronomers in Japan, Russia, France, Finland, and the United States have been pulling all-nighters to spot extraordinary exoplanets, planets orbiting stars other than the Sun. 
      NASA’s UNITE project holds these planetary stakeouts several times every month, and you can join in!
      This October, the UNITE team undertook a 20-hour marathon as part of tracking a Saturn-sized planet called TOI-4600 c. They watched and waited, trying to see the planet’s star dim by about 1% as the planet passed in front of it. 
      Success would tell us that the planet takes a little more than one Earth year to orbit its star. It would place this planet on a short list of gas-giant planets known outside our own solar system that have sizes and temperatures similar to those of Saturn and Jupiter. Such planets are key laboratories for studying how our solar system was formed, so each new example is precious.
      In mid-January, the UNITE team coordinated observations across Europe to catch the third-ever star-crossing event for a different planet. (The third one seen by humans, that is!) Once the team does catch it, they’ll know if it takes three Earth years to orbits its star, which would make it fairly cold planet, or something closer to 100 Earth days, telling us that the planet is relatively warm.
      The final results of these observations remain closely-guarded secrets, but they will soon be released in an astronomy journal articles. 
      The Unistellar Network Investigating TESS Exoplanets (UNITE) project is a global team of volunteer telescope observers tracking down rare worlds in distant solar systems. Visit science.unistellaroptics.com and you can be part of the next UNITE discovery!
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      Last Updated Feb 02, 2024 Related Terms
      Astrophysics Citizen Science Uncategorized View the full article
    • By NASA
      NASA’s Europa Clipper, with all of its instruments installed, is visible in the clean room of High Bay 1 at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Jan. 19. The tent around the spacecraft was erected to support electromagnetic testing.NASA/JPL-Caltech The science performed by the complex suite of instruments recently added to the spacecraft will reveal whether Jupiter’s moon Europa has conditions that could support life.
      With less than nine months remaining in the countdown to launch, NASA’s Europa Clipper mission has passed a major milestone: Its science instruments have been added to the massive spacecraft, which is being assembled at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
      Set to launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida in October, the spacecraft will head to Jupiter’s ice-encased moon Europa, where a salty ocean beneath the frozen surface may hold conditions suitable for life. Europa Clipper won’t be landing; rather, after arriving at the Jupiter system in 2030, the spacecraft will orbit Jupiter for four years, performing 49 flybys of Europa and using its powerful suite of nine science instruments to investigate the moon’s potential as a habitable environment.
      “The instruments work together hand in hand to answer our most pressing questions about Europa,” said JPL’s Robert Pappalardo, the mission’s project scientist. “We will learn what makes Europa tick, from its core and rocky interior to its ocean and ice shell to its very thin atmosphere and the surrounding space environment.”
      The hallmark of Europa Clipper’s science investigation is how all of the instruments will work in sync while collecting data to accomplish the mission’s science objectives. During each flyby, the fully array of instruments will gather measurements and images that will be layered together to paint the full picture of Europa.
      Jupiter’s icy moon Europa holds a vast internal ocean that could have conditions suitable for life. NASA’s Europa Clipper mission will help scientists better understand the potential for habitable worlds beyond our planet. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech “The science is better if we obtain the observations at the same time,” Pappalardo said. “What we’re striving for is integration, so that at any point we are using all the instruments to study Europa at once and there is no need to have to trade off among them.”
      From the Inside Out
      By studying the environment around Europa, scientists will learn more about the moon’s interior. The spacecraft carries a magnetometer to measure the magnetic field around the moon. That data will be key to understanding the ocean, because the field is created, or induced, by the electrical conductivity of the ocean’s saltwater as Europa moves through Jupiter’s strong magnetic field. Working in tandem with the magnetometer is an instrument that will analyze the plasma (charged particles) around Europa, which can distort magnetic fields. Together, they’ll ensure the most accurate measurements possible.
      What the mission discovers about Europa’s atmosphere will also lend insights into the moon’s surface and interior. While the atmosphere is faint, with only 100 billionth the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere, scientists expect that it holds a trove of clues about the moon. They have evidence from space- and ground-based telescopes that there may be plumes of water vapor venting from beneath the moon’s surface, and observations from past missions suggest that ice and dust particles are being ejected into space by micrometeorite impacts.
      Three instruments will help investigate the atmosphere and its associated particles: A mass spectrometer will analyze gases, a surface dust analyzer will examine dust, and a spectrograph will collect ultraviolet light to search for plumes and identify how the properties of the dynamic atmosphere change over time.
      All the while, Europa Clipper’s cameras will be taking wide- and narrow-angle pictures of the surface, providing the first high-resolution global map of Europa. Stereoscopic, color images will reveal any changes in the surface from geologic activity. A separate imager that measures temperatures will help scientists identify warmer regions where water or recent ice deposits may be near the surface.
      An imaging spectrometer will map the ices, salts, and organic molecules on the moon’s surface. The sophisticated set of imagers will also support the full instrument suite by collecting visuals that will provide context for the set of data collected.
      Of course, scientists also need a better understanding of the ice shell itself. Estimated to be about 10 to 15 miles (15 to 25 kilometers) thick, this outer casing may be geologically active, which could result in the fracture patterns that are visible at the surface. Using the radar instrument, the mission will study the ice shell, including searching for water within and beneath it. (The instrument’s electronics are now aboard the spacecraft, while its antennas will be mounted to the spacecraft’s solar arrays at Kennedy later this year.)
      Finally, there’s Europa’s interior structure. To learn more about it, scientists will measure the moon’s gravitational field at various points in its orbit around Jupiter. Observing how signals transmitted from the spacecraft are tugged on by Europa’s gravity can tell the team more about the moon’s interior. Scientists will use the spacecraft’s telecommunications equipment for this science investigation.
      With all nine instruments and the telecommunications system aboard the spacecraft, the mission team has begun testing the complete spacecraft for the first time. Once Europa Clipper is fully tested, the team will ship the craft to Kennedy in preparation for launch on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.
      More About the Mission
      Europa Clipper’s main science goal is to determine whether there are places below Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa, that could support life. The mission’s three main science objectives are to determine the thickness of the moon’s icy shell and its surface interactions with the ocean below, to investigate its composition, and to characterize its geology. The mission’s detailed exploration of Europa will help scientists better understand the astrobiological potential for habitable worlds beyond our planet.
      Find more information about Europa here:
      europa.nasa.gov
      Watch live: Europa Clipper being built in the clean room News Media Contacts
      Gretchen McCartney
      Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
      818-393-6215
      gretchen.p.mccartney@jpl.nasa.gov
      Karen Fox / Alana Johnson
      NASA Headquarters, Washington
      301-286-6284 / 202-358-1501
      karen.c.fox@nasa.gov / alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov
      2024-009
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      Details
      Last Updated Jan 30, 2024 Related Terms
      Europa Clipper Europa Jet Propulsion Laboratory Jupiter Moons Explore More
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