Recently in the Participatory Exploration Category


For a second year, NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate is seeking proposals for suborbital technology payloads and spacecraft capability enhancements that could help revolutionize future space missions. Selected technologies will travel to the edge of space and back on U.S. commercial suborbital vehicles and platforms, providing opportunities for testing before they are sent to work in the unforgiving environment of space.

Ask An Astronaut A Question

Space Station Astronaut Will Answer Video Questions From Public

"NASA has announced a unique opportunity to ask the commander of the International Space Station a question about his role on the orbiting outpost. Commander Dan Burbank will answer videotaped questions from the public during a live event tentatively set for Friday, Jan. 20 on NASA Television. The video questions must be less than 30 seconds. Submitters should introduce themselves and mention their location. Questions must be posted as responses to a video Burbank recorded on YouTube at: http://go.nasa.gov/sDYpzP"

Using the ISS To Teach

ISS National Lab Education Project Workshop

"The objective of ISS NLEP is to strengthen a link between the unique venue of the space station and science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, education. The objective of the workshop is to bring together researchers, academicians and interested parties for discussions on upcoming opportunities."

Novel ISS Outreach Ideas Sought

NASA Seeks Hosts for Space Station Interactive Education Events

"NASA is seeking proposals from educators who are looking for a unique way to inspire the next generation of explorers. Formal and informal education organizations can apply to host live interactive education downlinks with astronauts onboard the International Space Station. During Expeditions 31 and 32, NASA crew members Don Pettit, Joseph Acaba and Sunita Williams will participate in the 20-minute downlink opportunities. Participants on Earth see and hear the crew members live from space, while the crew hears the questions but does not see the audience."

YouTube SpaceLab Announced

YouTube SpaceLab Lifts Off With Lenovo Aboard

"Six regional finalists will gather in Washington, D.C., in March 2012 to experience a ZERO-G flight and receive other prizes. From them, two global winners, one from each age group, will be announced and later have their experiments performed 250 miles above Earth and live streamed on YouTube. Additionally, the global winners will get to choose a unique space experience as a prize: either a trip to Tanegashima Island, Japan, to watch their experiment blast off in a rocket bound for the ISS, or once they are 18 years old, a one-of-a-kind astronaut training experience in Star City, Russia, the training center for Russian cosmonauts."

Real participatory exploration: NASA's bed rest analog study (Interview with @Pillownaut), Open.NASA.gov

"Heather Archuletta, also known as Pillownaut, is just a "regular joe" (in her own words) who realized that everyone could contribute to NASA's exploration mission in a substantive way and decided to go for it and join the bed rest study. She continues to tell the story of her experience and increase the awesome all over the country, getting people excited about space and exploration."

Think about this: If you visit the Galaxy JPN YouTube channel sponsored by Samsung Mobile Japan's Space Balloon Project you'll see a large number of videos shot aboard a high altitude balloon. A small astronaut action figure is holding up a smartphone and people's text messages and images appear on the phone's screen while the Earth's surface passes far below. The organizers claim that more than 380,000 people saw this live stream from space.

Innovate Our World, a Maryland educational nonprofit, has partnered with a leading Google Lunar X prize competitor, Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh, PA, to help student teams from two central Maryland high schools design payload concepts suitable for Astrobotic's planned 2013 Tranquility Trek mission to the Apollo 11 landing site. Using information about the lunar environment, previous missions to the Moon, basics of conceptual payload design, and local experts, students from Glenelg Country School in Ellicott City, Maryland and Oakland Mills High School in Columbia, Maryland proposed and designed two lunar payloads and will present their concepts to Astrobotic Technology on Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 1 p.m.

During a Friday ceremony in Brooklyn, N.Y., NASA and Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade arts and crafts, announced the winners of "Space Craft," a contest that received more than 600 entries. Contestants entered an original handmade item or work of art inspired by NASA programs, such as the space shuttle, human spaceflight, aeronautics, science and exploration of the universe. Colleen and Eric Whiteley from Brooklyn received the Grand Prize for Best of Show for their detailed design of the Northstar Table. The table features a North Star design that, when pressed, opens a hidden drawer.

Robonaut-1 Balloon Mission Live Video and Mission Updates

"If all goes according to plan a balloon with a student-oriented payload will photograph Space Shuttle Discovery as it climbs into space from an altitude of 100,000 feet. There will also be live streaming video from the balloon itself during the mission - sent back by two regular smartphones running Google's Android operating system. Co-sponsored by the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, this mission is one in a series of flights conducted by Quest for Stars, a California-based non-profit educational organization that uses off-the-shelf hardware and a little ingenuity to allow students to place experiments at the edge of space at exceptionally low cost. Quest for Stars and the Challenger Center for Space Science Education have now joined together to promote the use of these low cost delivery systems. This mission will be the first of what is hoped to be many future collaborations." More information

Only days before the NASA Stardust spacecraft beamed home comet photos long awaited by astronomers, other researchers revealed the factors that motivated citizens to volunteer without pay to examine more than a million images of space dust captured by the spacecraft's predecessor.

The team of researchers headed by Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) Assistant Professor of Technology Management Oded Nov reported citizen astronomers were best motivated to spend unpaid hours looking for microscopic stardust particles by the project's objectives, the fun they experienced and the reaction they expected from their friends and family. Some of those motivations varied significantly from other crowd-sourced projects.

The iConference 2011, held February 8 - 11, 2011 in Seattle, chose "Dusting for Science: Motivation and Participation of Digital Citizen Science Volunteers" for its Best Paper Award. Co-authors are Nov, Ofer Arazy of the University of Alberta School of Business and David Anderson of Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley). A few days after the conference closed, on February 14, the second Stardust spacecraft beamed home its comet images. Meanwhile, thousands of volunteers have been sifting for years through 1.6 million series of digital images in search of interstellar dust captured by the predecessor Stardust spacecraft. That daunting volunteer project, called Stardust@home and headed by UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory Associate Director Andrew Westphal, was studied by Nov and his colleagues.

NASA Ames to Host Planet-Finding Tweetup

NASA will host about 100 registered people to go "behind-the scenes" and learn about planetary discoveries announced last week by the Kepler mission and science flights conducted by NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) aircraft. The event will kick off at the NASA Ames Exploration Center at 10 a.m. PST Friday, Feb. 11, at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. The Tweetup will feature several speakers, including Kepler Deputy Science Team Lead Natalie Batalha, SOFIA Project Scientist Pamela Marcum and David Morrison, Director of the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe.

"Chicago designer Scott Wilson humbly requested $15,000 on Kickstarter to build a batch of elegant touchscreen watches using iPod nanos for the timepiece. The total raised so far is $500,499 in just 15 days. This makes the TikTok and LunaTik Multitouch Watches the first Kickstarter project to break the half million mark, smashing the previous record, $345,992 for the movie Blue Like Jazz. The sum was raised by 6,912 backers, which averages out to about $72.41 each. The project still has 14 days to go before the funding closes, and will likely get more backers." More at New York Observer

Editor's note: Imagine if this process was used to fund spacecraft development, design - and launch ...

Visit NASA's Eyes on the Solar System

Eyes on the Solar System" is a 3-D environment full of real NASA mission data. Explore the cosmos from your computer. Hop on an asteroid. Fly with NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft. See the entire solar system moving in real time. It's up to you. You control space and time. Visit Eyes on the Solar System

NASA's "Kids in Micro-g" challenge is accepting proposals from students in fifth through eighth grades to design a classroom experiment that also can be performed by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Proposals are due by Dec. 8.

The experiments should examine the effect of weightlessness on various subjects: liquids, solids, the law of physics and humans. The experiments are expected to have observably different results in microgravity than in the classroom. The apparatus for the experiments must be constructed using materials from a special tool kit aboard the station. The kit contains items commonly found in classrooms for science experiments. The experiments must take 30 minutes or less to set up, run and take down.

Seventh Graders Find a Cave on Mars

NASA: California middle school students using the camera on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter have found lava tubes with one pit that appears to be a skylight to a cave. The students in science teacher Dennis Mitchell's class at Evergreen Middle School in Cottonwood, Calif., were examining Martian lava tubes as their project in the Mars Student Imaging Program offered by NASA and Arizona State University. Students in this program develop a geological question, then target a Mars-orbiting camera to take an image that helps answer the question. Mars Odyssey has been orbiting the Red Planet since 2001, returning data and images of the Martian surface and providing relay communications service for the twin Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. See full story

NASA is seeking private and corporate sponsors for the Centennial Challenges, a program of incentive prizes designed for the "citizen inventor" that generates creative solutions to problems of interest to NASA and the nation. NASA is looking for companies, organizations or individuals interested in sponsoring the non-profit allied organizations that manage the prize competitions.

Since 2005, NASA has conducted 19 competitions in six challenge areas and awarded $4.5 million to 13 different teams. Each of the challenges is managed by non-profit organizations in partnership with NASA.

NASA provides prize purses for the challenges but not the funds to conduct the competitions. A group of allied organizations conducts and manages the competitions, typically raising additional funds through partnerships with private and corporate sponsors.

Potential sponsors can be for-profit companies and corporations, universities and other non-profit or educational organizations, professional or public organizations, and individuals. Those interested in discussing sponsorship opportunities should respond to a Request for Information at: http://prod.nais.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/eps/synopsis.cgi?acqid=141911

Allied organizations generally seek sponsorships of all monetary sizes and in-kind contributions while providing public recognition to competition sponsors. Arrangements for competition sponsorships will be negotiated directly between the allied organizations and the sponsors and may include naming rights for significant contributors.

Centennial Challenge events typically include public audiences and are televised or broadcast over the Internet via streaming video. The competitions provide high-visibility opportunities for public outreach and education. There are three on-going Centennial Challenges, with several new challenges expected to be announced this year.

For additional information on the program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/challenges

Amateurs Track Storm on Saturn

Cassini and Amateurs Chase Storm on Saturn

"With the help of amateur astronomers, the composite infrared spectrometer instrument aboard NASA's Cassini spacecraft has taken its first look at a massive blizzard in Saturn's atmosphere. The instrument collected the most detailed data to date of temperatures and gas distribution in that planet's storms."

Power Droid Heads for Washington

Challenger Center and Green Trail Energy Bring Power to Washington

"This week in Washington, DC thousands of people will descend on the National Mall to see a variety of clean energy ideas as part of Earth Day. One of the pieces of technology on display is co-sponsored by the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. Formally known as the GSW-7000 this device is a self-contained trailer that is capable of generating up to 4.4 kilowatts of power from the sun and 2.4 kilowatts of power from wind energy."

Join the Lunar and Planetary Institute on April 21, 2010, for a live video webcast with Delia Santiago. She will discuss an exciting new citizen scientist program called MoonZoo. The rest of the conversation is up to you!

Santiago is the digital science strategist for the NASA Lunar Science Institute based at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. She works with interactive media and science collaboration tools to engage both the public and researchers inside and outside of NASA. Prior to joining the NLSI, Santiago worked at NASA's Ames Research Center with both the NASA CoLab program and the Life Science Payloads.

The MyMoon webcast begins at 8 p.m. EDT. Connect to the webcast at: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/mymoon/?p=p_santiago.cfm.

MyMoon (http://mymoon.lpi.usra.edu) is supported by funding from NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

Coming Soon: Rocket Hacking

Probe may have found cosmic dust, BBC

"The discovery was made by a member of the public, using the Stardust@Home internet application, which invited participants to search the aerogel collection medium for tiny particles of the dust. "There are two particles, but they are in the same track. So when they hit the aerogel, they were together - they are two components of the same particle," Dr Westphal told BBC News. "But they are very different from each other. That in itself is interesting, because if this does turn out to be interstellar dust, then it is a bit more heterogeneous than people thought." The initial speck, known as particle 30, was spotted by Bruce Hudson, from Ontario in Canada. Under the agreement made between the science team and participants in Stardust@Home, Mr Hudson was allowed to choose a name for the particle; he called it Orion."

In line with the Obama administration's efforts to establish an open and transparent government, one of Nebula's goals is to create a secure gateway through which NASA can share select data sets with outside researchers and the American public while at the same time, limit access to it's highly-secured internal networks.

One of the projects Nebula has been very excited to support enables the public to view and explore the surfaces of the Moon and Mars in unprecedented resolution in both Google Earth and Microsoft World Wide Telescope. The NASA team responsible for these projects leveraged Nebula to perform sophisticated large-scale image processing and hosting of hundreds of thousands of high-resolution images and over 100 terabytes of data. This project involved sophisticated 3D image modeling using 2D image tiles, enabling the public to explore the surfaces of these celestial bodies in realistic, 3D worlds.