Amateur Space News Roundup May 22, 2014

Today's headlines include student rocket contests, high school CanSats, university high-altitude balloons, crowdsourcing weather and astronomy, and the daily dose of Mars One candidate profiles.

Student-built rocket launches from Utah desert in Nasa's Student Launch competition. (Source: MSFC/Dusty Hood)

Student-built rocket launches from Utah desert in Nasa's Student Launch competition. (Source: MSFC/Dusty Hood)

Nasa’s Student Launch rocketry competition blasted off from the dry lake beds of Bonneville Flats. Nasa created the Student Launch program to give college students hands-on experience with the design and engineering decisions needed to successfully launch a rocket.

250 undergraduate students from 15 states designed their own high performance rockets and launched them to altitudes as high as 6 kilometers. About 500 spectators watched the event in person, but Nasa streamed live coverage archived on Ustream


CanSat over Britain (Source: Esero-UK)

CanSat over Britain (Source: Esero-UK)

British students needed to launch satellites in a can. The European Space Education Resources Office’s branch in the United Kingdom announced the opening of the 2014/2015 CanSat season. CanSats are simulated satellites launched on suborbital rockets. All of the systems of a satellite must fit within a container the size of a soft drink can. CanSat competitions give students hands-on experience with systems design, circuit design, and all aspects of a space mission from launch through descent and landing. British high schools can apply to compete in the UK CanSat Competition held next March. The winner goes on to the European CanSat Competition at the Andøya Rocket Range in Norway. Read our feature article for more information.

The University of Calgary won a $250,000 grant from the Canadian Space Agency. The Digital Journal reported that graduate students will design, build, and fly a scientific ballooning mission. The students will measure X-rays generated when solar storms smash into Earth’s atmosphere. The grant is part of the CSA’s Flights for the Advancement of Science and Technology which funds project that give graduate students hands-on experience conducting space related research and development. The CSA awarded grants to six universities:

  • New scientific instrument related to measuring the Earth's magnetic field (University of Alberta)
  • New instrument for studying high energy electrons from the Van Allen Radiation belts (University of Alberta)
  • New instruments aimed at monitoring of Van Allen belt particles (University of Calgary)
  • New technologies relating to climate change monitoring weather forecasting (Université du Québec à Montréal)
  • New instrument for the measurement of atmospheric aerosol and cloud components (University of Saskatchewan)
  • New instruments for the study of the Universe and is earliest times (University of Toronto)
  • New form of optical transmission between a balloon and a receiver on the ground (University of Waterloo)
  • New instrument for the measurement of Arctic temperature and pressure profiles (York University)
  • New instruments for atmospheric science related to meteorology application (York University)
  • New software algorithm for satellite attitude control systems (York University)

“Through this investment, our government is creating opportunities for hands-on experience that graduate students need to take the next step in their careers,” said Rob Anders, Member of Parliament for Calgary West.

This is one example of how high-altitude ballooning supports career development from grade school through early professional life. Read our article about high-altitude ballooning and Near Space exploration to learn more.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology awarded two volunteer weather watchers the Rainfall Excellence Awards. The BoM crowdsources rainfall measurements and storm reports from thousands of Australians, filling the gaps in the BoM’s high-tech weather network. Much of this data appears on the BoM’s Weather Observers Website. (Via Queensland Country Life

Other headlines: