Astronaut, Congressman And Students To Give Space Exploration Program At CU

February 8, 2000

An astronaut, a congressman and several students will participate in a Feb. 12 program on campus that will include talks on a recent space shuttle mission, the future of space exploration and an upcoming CU-Boulder student satellite mission.

The program will feature veteran astronaut Mark Lee who has flown on four NASA shuttle missions, Rep. Mark Udall of Colorado, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Space Subcommittee, and several CU undergraduates involved in the design and construction of the Citizen Explorer Satellite.

The free, public program will be held in room 180 of the Benson Earth Sciences Building from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 12. Seating in the 175-seat auditorium, adjacent to the atrium, will be available on a first-come basis.

The program will include video clips shot by astronauts from NASA’s space shuttle Discovery during the second Hubble Space Telescope repair mission in February 1997. A colonel in the U.S. Air Force, Lee performed lengthy spacewalks during the repair mission and a previous shuttle mission.

He will talk about his career as an astronaut, including four shuttle missions that took him more than 13 million miles in space, and his extensive spacewalking experiences. Udall will speak on the future of space exploration, its contributions to humans on Earth, and the importance of science education.

Senior aerospace engineering major Corissa Young and senior electrical and computer engineering major Kyran Owen-Mankovich of the CU-headquartered-Colorado Space Grant Consortium will talk about their experiences in constructing the Citizen Explorer.

Designed and built by CU-Boulder students – primarily undergraduates -- the 100-pound satellite is slated for launch aboard a Delta 2 rocket from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California April 13. The flight is being provided free of charge by NASA, which has designated the Citizen Explorer as a secondary "piggyback" payload.

The primary payload is the Earth Observer 1 satellite, a technology demonstration project and follow-up to the Landsat Earth-imaging satellites.

Following the CU event, Lee, Udall and a contingent of CSGC students, staff and faculty will go to Ball Aerospace Systems Group in Boulder to observe a series of environmental tests on the Citizen Explorer satellite by Ball technicians. "By giving us this environmental test support at no cost, Ball is doing us a major service," said CU-Boulder faculty member and CSGC Director Elaine Hansen.

The Earth-orbiting Citizen Explorer will measure atmospheric ozone and solar ultraviolet radiation as part of a larger educational effort that will involve K-12 schools around the world, said Hansen. Schools that purchase receiver antennas will become satellite ground stations for the effort and have the ability to monitor the health of Citizen Explorer and track its orbit.

Data from the schools will be sent via the Internet to student satellite operators at the CSGC mission control center at the CU-Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. In addition, K-12 students participating in the program can purchase and use hand-held instruments to take measurements of UV radiation and aerosols in the local area atmosphere.

"The goal is to produce a global database of the environment through cooperative educational opportunities," said Hansen. "We think this unique project will bring the excitement of space research and exploration into the classroom and motivate students to further explore math, science and technology."

The CSGC is one of 50 such programs founded in 1989 by NASA to help maintain the nation’s preeminence in space science and technology. The Colorado consortium is a joint partnership of 16 colleges, universities and institutions throughout the state focusing on space education, research and outreach.

For more information on K-12 school participation in the Citizen Explorer program, call the CSGC at (303) 492-3141.

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