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2012 News Archive




WASHINGTON -- On the 12th anniversary of crews continuously living and working aboard the International Space Station, NASA announced Friday a new service to help people see the orbiting laboratory when it passes overhead. "Spot the Station" will send an email or text message to those who sign up for the service a few hours before they will be able to see the space station.

"It's really remarkable to see the space station fly overhead and to realize humans built an orbital complex that can be spotted from Earth by almost anyone looking up at just the right moment," said William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations. "We're accomplishing science on the space station that is helping to improve life on Earth and paving the way for future exploration of deep space."

When the space station is visible -- typically at dawn and dusk -- it is the brightest object in the night sky, other than the moon. On a clear night, the station is visible as a fast moving point of light, similar in size and brightness to the planet Venus. "Spot the Station" users will have the options to receive alerts about morning, evening or both types of sightings.

The International Space Station's trajectory passes over more than 90 percent of Earth's population. The service is designed to only notify users of passes that are high enough in the sky to be easily visible over trees, buildings and other objects on the horizon. NASA's Johnson Space Center calculates the sighting information several times a week for more than 4,600 locations worldwide, all of which are available on "Spot the Station."

Nov. 2 marks 12 years of continuous human habitation of the space station.

To sign up for "Spot the Station," visit:

For information about the International Space Station and a full list of sightings, visit:


WASHINGTON -- The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program's 2012 Fall Symposium will be held Nov. 14-15, 2012 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Hampton, Va. NIAC examines early stage concepts that may lead to advanced and innovative space technologies critical for NASA to enable missions in the next 10 to 100 years.

For those unable to attend, keynote speakers and other presenters at the symposium can be seen on LiveStream at:

To view the complete conference agenda and for free registration, visit:

Call for Payloads (CFP) for the September 2013 flight of the High Altitude Student Platform (HASP)

HASP can support up to 12 student payloads (providing power, telemetry and commanding) during a flight to an altitude of 124,000 feet for up to 20 hours. The NASA Balloon Program Office and Louisiana Space Consortium anticipate flying HASP at least through 2014. There is no cost for launch and flight operations. Student teams will need to raise their own funds to support the development of their payload and, if necessary, for travel to Palestine, TX for HASP integration and Ft. Sumner, NM for flight operations.

Details about previous HASP flights and the student payloads flown can be found on the “Flight Information” page of the HASP website at Details on the payload constraints and interface with HASP as well as online access to the CFP materials can be found on the “Participant Info” page of the HASP website at

Applications are due December 14, 2012 and selections will be announced by mid-January 2013.

If you have any questions about the application materials or HASP, feel free to contact us at

We will also be conducting a Q&A Teleconference about HASP and the application process on Friday, November 16, 2011 at 10:00 am (central time). Groups who have previously flown on HASP as well as new organizations should plan on attending this teleconference. To participate, dial in to 1-866-717-2684 a few minutes prior to the conference time. When requested enter the conference ID number 6879021 followed by the # key.

Johnson Space Center Speaker at UNO This Friday

The Nebraska Biomechanics Core Facility invites the campus community to attend a presentation by Dr. Melissa Scott-Pandorf of the Johnson Space Center this Friday, Sept. 14. Her lecture, "My pathway to studying mitigation strategies for the deleterious effects of long duration space flight," will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in 206 Health, Physical Education and Recreation Building.
Dr. Scott-Pandorf received her bachelor's and master's degrees from UNO in Exercise Science and went on to receive her Ph.D. from the University of Houston. She is currently a biomechanist at the NASA Johnson Space Center working in the Exercise Physiology and Countermeasures Project.
Questions? Contact Demi Treat at 402.554.2573.

NASA Announces Asteroid Naming Contest for Students

Students worldwide have an opportunity to name an asteroid from which an upcoming NASA mission will return the first samples to Earth.

Scheduled to launch in 2016, the mission is called the Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource
Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx). Samples returned from the primitive surface of the near-Earth asteroid currently called (101955) 1999 RQ36 could hold clues to the origin of the solar system and organic molecules that may have seeded life on Earth. NASA also is planning a crewed mission to an asteroid by 2025. A closer scientific study of asteroids will provide context and help inform this mission.

For more information visit:

2012 Summer Career Exploration Workshop
Johnson Space Center, August 2012

The NASA Nebraska Space Grant Consortium is hosting a career exploration workshop for freshmen and sophomore undergraduate students from Nebraska. The workshop will be a three-day, project-based experience during which selected students will work alongside NASA researchers, NASA interns, and other undergraduate and community college students.

This workshop will provide selected students with an opportunity to work collaboratively with other students to complete an aerospace related challenge. Teams will be required to develop solutions for the problem statement and present their results to the other participants and a panel of judges. Students will also be matched with and shadow a NASA researcher based on his/her interests, career goal, and educational background. The goal of the project is to recruit students to NASA internships and future job placements.

Eligible students must attend one of the following institutions: Metropolitan Community College, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, or Western Nebraska Community College. Students must have completed one year of their undergraduate education and must have at least two summer semesters remaining before receiving their Bachelor's Degree.

The 2012 Summer Career Exploration Workshop will take place on August 8-10, 2012 in Houston, TX. The NASA Nebraska Space Grant Consortium will fund the travel costs for students participating in this workshop.
Applications are due as soon as possible and no later than June 15, 2012. Application available for download here.

Interested students should contact Mike Helgerson, Grants Specialist, at or by phone at 402-554.2042 for application materials.

The NASA Nebraska Space Grant is a proud sponsor of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program

Pleasanton and Norris Schools in Nebraska are participating in the historic SSEP Mission 1 to the International Space Station. The winning team’s experiment from Norris will be launched on SpaceX’s Dragon and become the first commercial vehicle to dock with the ISS. The 15 student payloads from SSEP are the only payloads on board. See the story and the link to the Nebraska team on the NASA website:

Special thanks to our co-sponsor, the Sherwood Foundation

NASA Nebraska Space Grant Announces the 2012 Mini-Grant and Fellowship Competition


The NASA Nebraska Space Grant Consortium is pleased to announce the 2012 Space Grant Fellowship Competition. As part of NASA's National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, we work to promote aerospace-related research, education, and public service programs to encourage a Diverse Workforce. These goals are accomplished through a national network of colleges, universities, industry and federal agency partners.

The NASA Nebraska Space Grant Fellowship Program funds students to engage in the following types of activities related to aerospace:

• Student research, including senior design projects;
• Research or lab assistant for a faculty member;
• Internship in the STEM fields;
• NASA Center Internship or NASA-sponsored activity;
• Travel to participate in or attend a professional conference or workshop; or

Successful applicants will demonstrate a strong relationship between the proposed project and NASA’s Strategic Plan and NASA’s mission directorates.

The eligible funding period for these fellowship proposals is September 1st, 2012, to May 31st, 2013. Proposals for Space Grant Fellowships are due by June 15th, 2012.

Proposals for the 2012 NASA Nebraska Space Grant Fellowship program will be accepted from undergraduate and graduate students from one of the Nebraska Space Grant Consortium’s 14 academic affiliates. A full listing of eligible institutions and other submission guidelines are in the application documents available on the "Academic Affiliates" page.

Applications are available for download on the "Fellowships" page.


Each year our mini-grant programs provide Nebraskans with opportunities to develop innovative projects in the state with strong ties and relevance to NASA.

Mini-grant proposals will be accepted from representatives of universities, community colleges, tribal colleges, non-profit organizations, and school districts across Nebraska. Specific eligibility requirements are included in each Mini-Grant application form. Proposals will be accepted for the following categories of projects:

 Higher Education
 Informal Education
 Research
 Teacher Training
 Travel

The eligible funding period for mini-grant proposals is September 1st, 2012, to May 31st, 2013, and proposals are due no later than June 15th, 2012.

Successful applicants will demonstrate a strong relationship between the proposed project and NASA’s Strategic Plan and mission directorates. Details about eligibility and cost-share and other requirements for each of these mini-grant opportunities are available in the proposal documents located on the "Mini-Grants Funding Opportunities" page.

Any questions about these competitions should be directed to Michael Helgerson, Grants Specialist, at or by phone at 402.554.2042.

Congratulations to Jon Carey for HPER Teacher of the Year Award

Jon Carey is a NASA Nebraska Space Grant Fellow and was honored at the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER), “Joint Appointment and Part-Time Faculty Appreciation and Awards Luncheon” at the Milo Bail Student Center. The event honored part-time and joint appointment faculty celebrating a teaching anniversary and announced the winners of the part-time and joint appointment recipients of the “Excellence in Teaching Award.”

Daniel Blanke, director of the School of HPER, presented each of the following teachers with a certificate in honor of their many years of hard work and dedication to the students of HPER. This year’s anniversary winners by category:

Five Years
Brent Bloom, Erin Hicks, Pat Philippi, Shandalee Ramet and Kent Templien

10 Years
Stephen J. Brennan

15 Years
Denise Kreski and Glen Wragge

20 Years
Todd Samland.

Teacher of the Year awards went to Jon Carey and Matt Dykstra in the part-time category and Chris Gadsden in the joint appointment category. Teachers were nominated by their students and peers and were presented with a plaque of appreciation.

NASA Pre-Service Teacher Institute

The NASA Pre-Service Teacher Institute is a summer residential program for early childhood, elementary and middle school education majors preparing to teach in an elementary or middle school classroom. College students will spend an exciting time at NASA's Johnson Space Center where they are exposed to science, technology, engineering and match enrichment activities for their classroom. Meet NASA personnel, tour Johnson Space Center, and learn how to incorporate NASA's cutting edge research into lesson plans.

Workshops: June 24-30, 2012 or July 8-14, 2012
Application deadline: March 1, 2012

Includes: Stipend, limited travel reimbursement, hotel, breakfasts and light dinners, resource materials

For more information:

Capt. Mark Kelly Delivers University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Peter J. Hoagland Integrity in Public Service Lecture Series

Capt. Mark Kelly was UNL's Peter J. Hoagland Intergrity in Public Service Lecture Series presenter. The lecture took place on the UNL campus on Monday, January 23rd. This event was sponsored by the NU Foundation and NASA Nebraska Space Grant. Read More.

RockOn Workshop

The NASA Nebraska Space Grant is interested in funding a team to attend the RockOn Workshop this year. A team should be comprised of a college or university faculty member and 2 undergraduate or graduate students who are interested in attending this workshop, and spending the next year developing a payload to launch in the second phase next year. Those interested should contact Mike Helgerson at

RockOn 2012 University Rocket Science Workshop
Audience: Higher Education Educators and Students
Registration Deadline: May 1, 2012
Workshop Dates: June 16-21, 2012

U.S. university faculty and students are invited to a weeklong workshop to learn how to build and launch a scientific experiment into space. NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia is hosting the RockOn 2012 workshop June 16-21, 2012, in partnership with the Colorado and Virginia Space Grant Consortia. The registration deadline for the workshop is May 1, 2012.

The hands-on workshop teaches participants to build experiments that fly on sounding rockets. During the week, participants will work together in teams of three to construct and integrate a sounding rocket payload from a kit. On the fifth day of the workshop, the experiments will fly on a sounding rocket expected to reach an altitude of more than 70 miles.

Each experiment will provide valuable scientific data, analyzed as part of the student-led science and engineering research. The program engages faculty and students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills critical to NASA's future engineering, scientific and technical missions.

For more information about RockOn and to register online, visit

Questions about the workshop or the registration process should be directed to Chris Koehler by email at or by telephone at 303-492-3141.

Nebraska Student Rocket Team to Take NASA Launch Challenge

More than 500 students from middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities in 29 states will show their rocketeering prowess in the 2011-12 NASA Student Launch Projects flight challenge. The teams will build and test large-scale rockets of their own design in April 2012.

NASA created the twin Student Launch Projects to spark students' imaginations, challenge their problem-solving skills and give them real-world experience. The project aims to complement the science, mathematics and engineering lessons they study in the classroom. Read Full Article.

Pleasanton and Norris High Schools in NE Microgravity Experiment Selected to Fly in March 2012 to Internationl Space Station

The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in partnership with NanoRacks, LLC, announces the selection of 15 microgravity experiments to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard Soyuz 30, scheduled for launch in March 2012. The experiments were selected as part of Mission 1 to ISS, the third flight opportunity provided by America’s Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP). The first two flight opportunities were on the final flights of Shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis. Pleasanton and Norris High School's experiement entitled, "Escherichia coli in Microgravity" studies the effects of microgravity on the DNA of pathogenic bacteria. Read More. SSEP Program Video Clip.

NASA Selects Student Teams for Microgravity Research Flights

WASHINGTON -- NASA has selected 24 undergraduate student teams to test science experiments under microgravity conditions. The teams will fly during 2012 as part of the agency's Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program (RGEFP).

The teams will design and build their experiments at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and conduct tests aboard an aircraft modified to mimic a reduced-gravity environment. The aircraft will fly approximately 30 parabolas with roller-coaster-like climbs and dips to produce periods of weightlessness and hyper-gravity ranging from 0 to 2g's.

The 2012 SEED teams are from Carthage College, Georgia Institute of Technology, Northwest Nazarene University, Oklahoma State University, University of Houston-Clear Lake, San Jacinto College, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Washington University in St. Louis and Yale University. Read Full Article.

Link to another news article entitled, "UNL Team chosen to work with NASA."

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