Press Release

Local Students Help Rename NASA Radiation Monitoring Projects

By SpaceRef Editor
June 15, 2012
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Local Students Help Rename NASA Radiation Monitoring Projects

Students from Clear Creek Independent School District now have a hand in helping NASA advance radiation protection in space. NASA’s RadWorks team developing two Radiation Environment Monitors (REMs) for space vehicles has selected names devised by high school students for the monitors as part of a contest for local science students.

Battery-Operated Independent Radiation Detector, or BIRD, was chosen as the name for the REM concept under development for NASA’s Exploration Flight Test-1. The test in early 2014 will launch NASA’s Orion spacecraft, without a crew, to an altitude that has not been achieved by a craft intended for human flight since the Apollo lunar landing missions. The BIRD acronym was created by pre-Advanced Placement physics students in Scott Black’s class at Clear Falls High School.

Hybrid Electronic Radiation Assessor, or HERA, will designate the REM concept for NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems program which pioneers new approaches for rapidly developing prototype systems, demonstrating key capabilities and validating operational concepts for future human missions beyond Earth’s orbit. The name HERA was devised by teacher Kristi Roof’s students in chemistry and pre-Advanced Placement chemistry classes at Clear Lake High School.

The RadWorks team developed the idea of a naming competition for students in the local school district to help differentiate between the two projects and to excite future scientists about space. “Differentiating between the original nomenclature for the two REM concepts quickly became confusing for the RadWorks team, so we thought tapping into the creativity of local science students would yield some imaginative names and give future scientists and engineers a chance to play a part in developing new space technologies,” said Bobbie Swan, RadWorks Project Manager. “We were really impressed with the innovative quality of the submissions.”

The harmful effects of radiation in space pose dangers to astronauts. RadWorks is a NASA project to advance radiation protection, measurement and warning systems. REM is one element of RadWorks. The monitor is a robust, radiation-hardened readout chip combined with a silicon sensor to form a highly capable space radiation measurement system. The goal of the RadWorks project is to integrate REM into a space vehicle using the vehicle’s power, data collection system and display systems.

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SpaceRef staff editor.