NASA Seeking Student Science ExperimentsAstronomy Education 

NASA Seeking Student Science Experiments

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Attention college students: Do you want to send some science experiments to the edge of space with a NASA balloon?

NASA is accepting applications now through December 16 from graduate and undergraduate university students to fly experiments to the edge of space on a scientific balloon.

Students and professors interested in applying are invited to participate in a November 11 teleconference.

Science Experiments: An 11.8-million-cubic-foot scientific balloon is fully inflated in preparation to launch the High-Altitude Student Platform Payload. Credits: NASA/Alan Haggard
An 11.8-million-cubic-foot scientific balloon is fully inflated in preparation to launch the High Altitude Student Platform Payload. Credits: NASA / Alan Haggard.

Up to 12 student teams will build and fly their experiments as part of the High Altitude Student Platform program, a joint project between NASA and the Louisiana State University’s Louisiana Space Consortium (LaSPACE) in Baton Rouge.

“Our scientific balloons have long been a brilliant training ground for the next generation of scientists and engineers,” said Debbie Fairbrother, NASA’s Balloon Program Office chief. “From astronauts and Nobel prize-winning scientists, to engineers and technicians among the best in the business—balloons have been a starting point for so many, and I think that’s the true value of HASP” (High Altitude Student Platform).

A panel of experts from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Texas, and LaSPACE will review the applications and select the finalists for the next flight opportunity, scheduled for fall 2017.

Since 2006, more than 960 students from 34 institutions across 19 states, Puerto Rico, and Canada have developed HASP science experiments. Past student groups have flown instruments that have flight-tested compact satellites, tested prototype long-range communication devices, performed space science experimentation (solar, gamma, and cosmic-ray detection), sampled particles (organic and non-organic) at the edge of space, performed remote sensing experimentation, tested various rocket nozzles, measured infrasound to correlate with geophysical events, and many more.

The HASP gondola houses and provides power, mechanical support, interfacing, and data downlink and command uplink communications for up to 12 student instruments. Launched from NASA’s balloon launch facility in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, flights typically achieve 10 to 20 hours of flight at an altitude of about 23 miles.

Science Experiments: Students attending the 2016 High-Altitude Student Platform launch in Fort Sumner, N.M., pose in front of the fully inflated scientific balloon just prior to lift-off. Credits: Louisiana Space Consortium/T.G. Guzik
Students attending the 2016 High Altitude Student Platform launch in Fort Sumner, NM, pose in front of the fully inflated scientific balloon just prior to lift-off. Credits: Louisiana Space Consortium / T. G. Guzik.

For 2017 science experiment application materials, teleconference schedule, and additional HASP details, visit http://laspace.lsu.edu/hasp.

For information about NASA’s scientific balloon program, visit https://www.nasa.gov/scientificballoons.

For information about NASA’s education programs, visit http://www.nasa.gov/education.

A version of this story was released by NASA.

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