Amateur Space News May 8, 2014

A cluster of STEM education articles (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in today’s headlines. Also an undergraduate high-altitude balloon project, Americans’ mixed opinions on space exploration, British radio amateurs thanked by Nasa, the challenges of crowdsourcing search-and-rescue as well as satellite-building, and the daily round of articles about Mars One.

Girls high school headed for UK rocketry championship, reports the Maldon and Burnham Standard. The UK Aerospace Youth Rocketry Challenge held its Essex County trials last Saturday. Chelmsford County High School for Girls edged out 7 other schools to win a spot at the UK-wide competition in June. The British champions will receive an all-expenses trip to the Farnborough Air Show to compete against American, French, and Japanese national champions.

More local coverage in the United States about students heading for the Team America Rocketry Challenge which will send the US representative to Farnborough. The only New England team consists of middle and high school students from Massachusetts. (Via Sun Chronicle) Three Irvine middle school teams are also heading to Virginia. (Via OC Register paywall)

Houston-area high students designed a sleeping chamber for astronauts through the Nasa Hunch program. They presented their results at the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District’s Technology Festival. (via yourhoustonnews)

2 Oregon astronomy educators flew on an airborne telescope reports the Chinook Observer. Astronomy teacher Robert Black and amateur astronomer David Bloomsness will use their experience and observations of galaxies to enhance classroom education and astronomy outreach programs. This may be one of the last times teachers fly on Nasa's 747-borne Sofia infrared telescope as Nasa has cut it from next year's budget.

Carrollton High School engineering students sent a balloon into Near Space reports KSDK. The balloon rose almost 30 kilometers above the Illinois countryside. Read the students’ report (PDF) to see pictures taken from the edge of space.

Teenager becomes first Louisiana high school student certified for high-power rocketry KACT reports. Tony Mclelland’s license from the Tripoli Rocketry Association lets him fly entry-level high power rockets up to 640 newton-seconds. Mclelland’s physics teacher at Franklin High School uses rocketry as part of his science curriculum and mentored the young rocketeer through the process.

Montana State University students design long-duration weather balloons. Montana’s Daily InterLake wrote about local college students role in the Near Space project that uses a valve to ease the pressure in weather balloons as they reach 30 kilometers. Rather than bursting, the balloons can now drift and collect data for hours.

American public opinion on space exploration is still weak says Pew Research. Fewer than 22% of Americans think the government spends too little on space while about 40% think it spends too much. That’s consistent for the past four decades. At the same time Pew reports that most Americans view Nasa favorably and are optimistic that humans will travel to and settle Mars. Universe Today provided some counter-interpretations that are more favorable for space exploration.

British radio amateurs receive thank you from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, reports the West Briton newspaper. Members of the Cornwall’s Poldu Amateur Radio Club broadcast a Morse code signal to the Juno spacecraft as it swung by Earth en route to Jupiter. JPL used the signal to calibrate Juno’s sensors.

Tomnod’s crowdsourced search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 let millions of people search for the aircraft in parent company DigitalGlobe’s satellite images. Tomnod’s systems couldn’t handle the traffic. Inc Magazine looked at how Tomnod recovered and the take away lessons for IT leaders.

KickSat, the crowdfunded satellite, may burn up before releasing its Sprite satellites-on-a-chip. More coverage from Engadget, the Escapist, and SpaceFlight Now.

Mars One architect, and co-founder of Copenhagen Suborbital, Kristian von Bengtson interviewed on Danish show Søndag Live (YouTube in Danish).

Reports on Mars One candidates: