Press Release

NASA’s Undergraduate Student Instrument Program Launches

By SpaceRef Editor
July 7, 2014
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NASA’s Undergraduate Student Instrument Program Launches

College and university students from across the country are taking science to greater heights thanks to a new NASA program.

The Undergraduate Student Instrument Program (USIP) is an educational flight opportunity sponsored by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by providing a hands-on Earth or space science flight project experience. The program is helping to developing tomorrow’s STEM workforce by sponsoring undergraduate-led, multi-disciplinary university teams to conduct, develop and fly a science payload on NASA suborbital platforms.

Ten U.S. college and university team proposals were selected for USIP’s initial year. NASA provided suborbital-class platforms, including sounding rockets, balloons, aircraft, zero-g aircraft and suborbital reusable launch vehicles at no cost to the teams.

“USIP challenges students to apply their academic skills to a real problem. The lessons they learn will help them be better prepared for today’s workforce,” said Marc Allen, SMD’s deputy associate administrator for research at the agency’s headquarters in Washington.

The selected science teams are building and testing their instruments under the direction of faculty advisors and will launch on these suborbital platforms:

Scientific Balloon:

University of VirginiaCharlottesville, Virginia – CubeSat Cosmic Ray Dosimeter

Utah State UniversityLogan, Utah, and University of Maryland Eastern ShorePrincess Anne, Maryland– Measurements of Red Line Airglow (RLAGS)

Catholic University of AmericaWashington, D.C. – Real-time attitude determination system for scientific balloon

Small Balloon:

Gannon UniversityErie, Pennsylvania – Cosmic Ray Calorimeter

Weather Balloon:

University of HoustonHouston, Texas – Auroral ionosphere and stratosphere study using smartphone technology

Parabolic Aircraft Flight:

Carthage CollegeKenosha, Wisconsin – Propellant measurement techniques

University of Central FloridaOrlando, Florida – Microgravity experiment on accretion in space environments

Sounding Rocket:

West Virginia University, MorgantownWest Virginia – Ionospheric response to interplanetary disturbances during magnetic storms.

Airborne Science:

Louisiana State University, Baton RougeLouisiana, and A&M College, College Station, Texas – Microbial aerosol sampling

Commercial Carrier:

Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Multi-modal, high-resolution mapping

The first of the suborbital launches occurred in June 2014 and launches will continue through spring 2015. The USIP is managed through NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility Advanced Projects Office in Virginia.

For more information about NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, visit:


SpaceRef staff editor.