Students from two Hawaii schools will work on a lunar project in collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The students, from the Kealakehe High School in Kailua-Kona and Iolani School in Honolulu, will help test a technology that can protect equipment from dust on the moon.
The dust that covers the moon has caused problems to astronauts and equipment. Carlos Calle, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, and his colleagues have been looking for ways to reduce these problems paving the way for the development of the electrodynamic dust shield that repels and eliminates dust collected on the surface of equipment.
Although the technology has been extensively tested on Earth, it has yet to be tested in space or on the lunar surface. Scientists will get help from young minds on this project with the participation of the two schools, the first time students have been given the opportunity to participate in an experiment on the moon.
The students involved started working on the project in August last year with each school assigned to build a housing for the electrodynamic dust shield and determine where the housing is best placed on a lunar lander. The best housing will be sent to the moon along with the electrodymic dust shield experiment on a Google XPRIZE lunar mission scheduled for launch in late 2016.
Rob Kelso, the executive director of the the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES), which spearheads the project, said the experiment will mark the first time the dust shield will be tested outside of the laboratory and that students will get real-world aerospace engineering experience. The design and test data the students gather are being seen as potentially useful in future space missions.
Under NASA's guidance, the students will have in-depth participation in the project and following the mission will share their experience and knowledge with other students in elementary and middle schools.
"With access to cutting-edge technology, students of all ages are becoming complex and creative thinkers inspired to apply classroom knowledge to real world issues," said Timothy Cottrell, head of school at Iolani School. "The PISCES project is an extraordinary, innovative learning opportunity for students to gain the hands-on experience, technological skills and access to a culture of collaboration that is essential to 21st century learning"