Four Central Texas College (CTC) students were among the 300 students from junior colleges across Texas attending the NASA Johnson Space Center Community College Aerospace Scholars program in Houston recently. The two-day event is part of NASA’s outreach program to stimulate young college students in space exploration and peak their interest in math, science and engineering.
CTC students Joshua Lindeken, Edward Closson, Amanda Berg and Anderson Fernandes, accompanied by CTC physics professor Dr. Syed Rabbani, joined other students in forming teams to establish fictional companies interested in Mars exploration. Each company was responsible for developing a prototype rover, designing a line drawing of the rover and forming the company infrastructure including budget, communications and presentations. In addition, students attended a presentation on space exploration and possible techniques to use Einstein’s relativity in space and participated in numerous Web-based activities as they completed their project.
On the first day, Mission I was for each group’s Rover to retrieve Mars rocks. And on the second day, they were assigned Mission II which tasked their Rover to retrieve stranded Moon Buggies on Mars. Each group presented their Rover and missions before a panel of judges.
Also during the two days, students received a guided tour of the Houston Space Center and heard from heard from guest speaker Gene Kranz who was in charge of the Apollo 13 program. He described the near disaster when the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded. Kranz relayed how the creativity and the need for instant decision making helped the crew members overcome the loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, limited power and a hampered carbon dioxide removal system.
Students also attended several workshops including “Blue Marble Matches,” which focused on lunar geology, and heard lectures on reduced gravity and a presentation, “Failure Is Not an Option,” by Astronaut Jerry Woodfill, who served as a warning system engineer for the Apollo 11 and 13 space missions.
Community College Aerospace Scholars is part of Texas Aerospace Scholars and was designed to encourage community and junior college students to enter careers in science and engineering and ultimately join Texas’ highly technical workforce. It was created by the state of Texas in partnership with the Johnson Space Center and the Texas educational community.