Sunday, June 6, 2021

Space Academy for Educators: Day 4 (Summer 2021)



You can find posts from previous days below:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Today was our last full day of camp! The time has gone SO fast; I can't believe we're all heading home tomorrow.


After breakfast, we headed to the Educator building for a second lecture on the Artemis missions. Artemis was Apollo's twin sister in Greek mythology, and was the goddess of the moon, so it makes sense that the next mission to the moon would be named after her. These missions will put the first woman and the first person of color on the moon. In the past, we have only landed in the equatorial region of the moon, but now we will be landing in the south pole. The reason for this is that there is water ice in the south pole that we want to be able to harvest to use for rocket fuel to help with deep space missions. Artemis I is set to launch this year, and hopefully we will have boots on the moon by the mid-20s!

Next, we headed to another building to do an activity called "Asteroid Deflection." The activity is based on a NASA project called DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test). The overall goal is to be able to deflect asteroids heading towards Earth that could impact us. As a trial run, they are sending a refrigerator sized contraption to the Didymos Asteroid (which is near Earth). It will attempt to knock it out of the pathway it was on by crashing into it at a speed just faster than a speeding bullet.


We followed this up with an engineering design project called Eggs Prize. It was based on/simulating the XPrize challenge put out by Google in 2007. The challenge was for privately funded teams to send a robot to the moon, and if they could do that, they would win $30 million. They had to have a successful launch, land on the moon, rove 500 meters, then transmit images and video back to Earth. No team was able to successfully complete the challenge. We needed to build a rover and a lander that would land with an intact payload, then have a functioning rover.

We were on a really tight time constraint, so ours was definitely sloppy! I named our lander "Thrift Shop" because it looked like that was where it came from. The lander dismantled upon impact, which was fine, but somehow the rod holding the wheels of the rover snapped! Our egg (which represented our payload) was unharmed though, so that was good!



Then we had lunch and some down time before our mission. Today's mission was the Discovery Mission. I was in the space shuttle Discovery, and was a Mission Specialist. We got to communicate with Mission Control over the headset, and then go do an EVA! For the EVA, I got to put on a space suit, then was lifted up by a harness. The other mission specialist and I had to analyze the heat tiles from the bottom of the shuttle, replace any that were too damaged, and repair with ablator the ones that just had minor damage. 



Following the mission we got to do the 1/6 chair, aka the moon walk! This chair gives you 1/6 the gravity that we have on Earth, so when you try to walk, you hop! First we hopped, then we went sideways, then we had to try to run. The running was the hardest part! Our crew leader told me to act like I was running in slow motion, I told her, "That's the only way I run!"


After the 1/6 chair, we did the MAT (Multi Axis Trainer) which is based on a real life astronaut training simulator. The purpose is to give you the feeling of an uncontrolled spin in microgravity. Supposedly your stomach stays in the center, and since it is your center of gravity, you're not going to get sick or feel dizzy. I did not find this to be the case. I wasn't dizzy or sick afterwards, but my stomach did feel slightly nauseous. 


Our last stop was the planetarium for a show about the solar system. Most of the information was stuff that I already knew, but it was still really neat and the man narrating it was fabulous. It was hard not to fall asleep though, we were tired and the dark really invited some zzzs! One new thing that I learned was that the storm that forms the big red spot on Jupiter, that has been raging from 300-500 years, could disappear in our lifetime!


Instead of going out with the crew, Megan, Tiffany, Mel and I opted for a quick dinner at Wahlburger's so we could get back to the dorms and pack. (We are all sitting in their suite lounge on our laptops and not packing, so that plan didn't work so well). Tomorrow will be one last early morning, then graduation and home!


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