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Project Ideas for Space Technology at Science Fairs

A lot of kids really enjoy getting involved with the school science fair. Science fairs are a great way to learn and be creative at the same time. There are a variety of different things that can be done for projects and one of those can be space technology, this is a great category to add to your science fair to make it more interesting and fun to participate. Here are a few ideas you can include in your science fair.

One thing you can do is to show the different methods there might be for collecting stardust. Astronomers of today go and collect stardust by making satellites that have large panels that will catch any floating particles that might pass it by out in space. Students can test if the proximity of a satellite to a planet is going to affect the quantity of stardust that it will collect. To do this you will need to tie three different lengths of string to three pieces of cardboard that are covered in petroleum jelly. Then you can take these strings and hang them from a hanger so the the three are all at different heights. Next you will need to fill a box with some ashes, preferably from a fireplace and hold the satellites over this box. You then can throw a rock into the box of ashes and then see which off the cardboard panels caught most of the ash or “stardust”.

Another project for a science fair would be to collect and measure micrometeorites from outside. These are very tiny pieces of metal and metallic dust that actually orbit the earth just like satellites before the fall to earth. So, to do this you will need a large plastic tablecloth for outside and put it on the grass for several days.

The next thing to do is to fold the cloth and tilt it so all the stuff that has fallen on it collects in just one area of the cloth. Next take a strong magnet and collect all of the metallic fragments and then take these fragments and look at them under a microscope to examine. To make it a little be more of a complex project take several different tablecloths and put them all in different places to see how different the things are in different areas that the tablecloth collects.

Make a variety of different model satellites. People will be amazed at how different all the satellites look. You should do some intensive study on the different satellites that NASA alone uses by going to their website. Then you can go to their site and get a variety of instructions on how to build models of their satellites. When you make the satellites make sure that you include the different reasons why NASA uses certain satellites.


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Thinking of a Job at NASA? Think Again!

If you have a huge interest in space technology, you might be dreaming of a job at NASA. Even though this may be the primary space research and exploration part of the US government it is not always an organization that offers a ton of job opportunities any more.

Basically NASA is a scientific entity and has a strong emphasis on all kinds of engineering disciplines. However, their non-science roles are generally outsourced which means they aren't subject to the actual NASA hiring practices. Plus, NASA is a federal agency and the majority of hiring will take place through the USA Jobs interface. With budget cuts however, hiring has really dropped since the heydays of the 1960s and 1970s.

About 60% of NASA's overall workforce which would include administrative staff like accountants, along with true engineers. There are highlights on meteorology, computer science, aerospace and biology. If you have an engineering degree it could be helpful. However, often NASA will train people to be specialized in ways they are more needed.

Then there is 24% of the workforce that most of their administrative needs of the entire agency. These jobs would include IT roles, budget specialists, general administration and public affairs. These kinds of jobs are very similar and have the same duties you might find in any organization. They also have administrative support jobs that are considered lower on the pay grade due to the lower hiring requirements. Many of these kinds of jobs are entry level and will include clerks, secretaries, procurement and other general office type of workers. About 7% of their employees do this level of work.

When it comes to technicians they can offer scientific and engineering roles for NASA. These types of jobs will usually require some level of certification and is said to take up about 9% of the workforce at NASA. A lot of these jobs would be engineering, meteorology and electronics.

Then there are trade persons and laborers. Just like any other company or organization, NASA too will need those who are skilled in different trades or workmanship. Even though they do tend to outsource a lot of this workforce they still do employ 1% of electricians, model and instrument makers a long with maintenance and are actually on the NASA payroll.

As for being an astronaut. As children many dreamed of being one, however the truth be known, astronauts make up the smallest fraction of NASA's workforce and aren't even considered regular NASA employees. They are recruited from the Astronaut Candidate Program. Even though anyone can apply being accepted is extremely rare. You need degrees in math, engineering and science and having a pilots background is also desirable. On top of that then the candidate has to pass extremely grueling, physical tests.


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How Space Technology Has Contributed to Technology in Our Lives

For many years now there have been several nations around the globe that have poured billions of dollars, talent and energy into what is known as the space race and space technology. These programs not only have opened up frontiers out in space but they have also helped to move technology ahead for things that have given the people on earth benefits to enjoy. NASA has cataloged how their technology has made life better for all people.

Inside of our homes, especially ones that a newer you are going to find a variety of different things created from the technology that was created by the space program. For example back in the 1970's it was Honeywell that came up with a smoke detector for Skylab. Today, this same device is a requirement in all new homes and are usually required in all rentals as well. Cordless power tools were first consigned for NASA by Black and Decker and are now currently selling around $400 million dollars worth of these kinds of tools to the general public every year. Another technology first used with the Apollo program was satellite TV, now common place in a lot of homes.

NASA has lead the way when it comes to virtual reality research as well. This has helped scientists on earth to perform tasks virtually off the planet by never leaving earth. This kind of research can combine sound and three dimensional graphics together and was began in the mid 80's and continues to be improved upon by NASA to this very day.

NASA has done a lot in their jet propulsion labs by their research and application of laser technology. They have shared this technology not only with the scientific world but also with the medical world to help advance many medical techniques.

They have also since the mid 60's, led the way in many different global communication ventures. They have led the way in satellite technology in areas like geosynchronous orbit, stabilization, digital computers, solid state and high powered transmitters which all have been incorporated in a variety of different devices used by commercial organizations and the general public.

One of the major areas that have truly benefited from space technology would be the medical world and it's technology. Some of the many contributions are listed below:
  • Laser heart surgery
  • Assistance with searching for cancer cures
  • Body imagery
  • Prosthetic limbs
  • Infrared thermometers
  • Light emitting diodes
  • Composite forceps
  • Pill sized transmitters
  • Chromosome analysis
  • Digital mammography
  • Cameras on microchips for use during surgery

Space technology has also helped the farmers at home. A lot of different technologies that have been needed for spacecraft or to even feed the astronauts have been applied on farms. For instance hydroponics would be one major technology that has it's grass roots with space exploration.

You can also thank NASA for protecting you while on a commercial flight, it's their technology that now provide planes with lightning protections, collision avoidance technology and wind shear prediction. And let's not forget sports, the next time you go to a stadium to watch your favorite sport, you can thank NASA for those fiberglass roofs, they are made from the same material they used to design moon suits.


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How To Play Educational Games That Help Kids With Space Science

Science has always been important to man and as we continue to advance it seems that it is becoming even more important. Some of the most important ones that we should guide our children to should be training in engineering, technology, space technology and math. For some kids though science can be a little tough so sometimes it helps if children are given games to play that deal with science rather than handing them a text book and tell them to learn it.

NASA has a site called NASA Space Place and this has a great and large collection of different games and animations all about the earth, space and space technology. The facts they provide the children as well as the animations should always be used before the child starts playing the different games, because this will give kids the background information they should have before playing. One game they offer is called Load the Shuttle. This is a game where kids have to consider as well as plan what kind of equipment they need to pack into a space shuttle. The big problem is, is that they can only bring what is considered essential equipment with them on the mission. If they load the shuttle with too much stuff they won't be able to complete their mission. They also are forced to use different solutions to solve the problems.

There are also games that will help kids learn about energy and water. The website Energy Kids gives kids a lot of information about energy in the form of different games, quizzes and riddles. This information is accessible for kids of all ages. There is one game called The International Aid Organization Water Aid and it teaches kids about sanitation and water. Then there is the game called Pani the Hand Pump and this is where kids can choose what country they want to go visit out of Ethiopia, Nepal and Ghana. The aim here is for the kids to solve their water problems in the villages of these countries. Every time a child's solution is wrong they lose a bucket of water. To win the game the child has to have at least one bucket of water left at the end.

There's a British website called Crickweb and it has games as well as activities for elementary kids. The games will group different animals together and will examine both human and animal skeletons. The National Geographic Kid website has a ton of games covering different topics that include space, animal and recycling games.

For older children there is a site called Nobel Prize Organization and it offers games as well as simulations. This site is based on Nobel Prize awards. These games give good background information on things like chemistry, physics and medicine. One game is called Diabetic Dog and a child is asked to take care of a diabetic dog and in the process they learn how to treat diabetes.


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Top Universities That Offer Space Technology Education

Space technology and aerospace engineering focus on the conceptualization and construction of air and spacecrafts. If a person gets a degree in this type of subject will prepare them for a possible exciting career in space technology or aerospace engineering. The job outlook for this type of work is still pretty good and it is predicted that the need and interest will continue to grow by about 10% through the year 2018. There are several very good and prominent universities that offer degrees in this field that you might want to check into.

The first one would be Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. They have two campuses, one is located in Arizona and the other one is located in Florida. They are a widely recognized as one of the top tier colleges for studying space technology and aerospace engineering. They offer Bachelor of Science degrees in these fields. The degree will provide students with a huge foundation in aerospace engineering that covers a variety of career fields or prepare them for graduate school as well.

Another top notch university would be the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or otherwise known as MIT. This university has one of the best aerospace engineering programs in the entire United States. In fact they are tied with Cal Tech for the highest rated program. Like Embry-Riddle they have very comprehensive undergraduate programs that offer a huge variety of research fields that include aerospace computational engineering, air breathing propulsion, different aircraft systems engineering, autonomy, communications, networks, air transportation systems, controls, humans in space, materials and structures, space systems and space propulsion.

Cal Tech or California Institute of Technology is regarded in the field of aerospace as one of the best in the country. They offer their students a very unique chance to actually work with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. They are also very conveniently found in Southern California which is considered the heart of the space technology corridor. They also offer an intensive one year master's degree program that is interdisciplinary and has an emphasis on the fluid mechanics, solid mechanics, the materials, the different structures and propulsion systems with a major emphasis on the modern applications for space technology.

Another very good program is offered by Stanford university. Rated right after Cal Tech, their program also is rated one of the best. They are very well known for their interdisciplinary approach to different research and they allow their students to go and branch out in a lot of different directions in order to pursue studies that are directly related to their major plan of study. Their aerospace programs put an emphasis on structural, guidance, control, aerodynamics and different propulsion problems of spacecraft and aircraft.


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All About NASA and Their Memory Foam

When we think of NASA and space technology generally we just think about all the different space shuttle missions, the International Space Station and other NASA programs over the years. This is usually all that you will ever see in the news. What we rarely ever see though are the different inventions and different rewards that we receive in our daily lives that have come directly from NASA's space technology. One of those great inventions would be NASA's memory foam.

Credit needs to be given to Charles Yost. He was an aeronautical engineer who happen to work on the 1962 Apollo module recover. With crash and vibration protection with some sort of energy absorbing techniques being their goals is what led him to developing the memory foam back in 1966. Back in 1969, a company called Dynamic Systems, Inc. were the first ones who sold the product called “temper foam”. Memory foam is now in the Space Technology Hall of Fame.

There are two true forms of memory foam that were developed right after the initial invention. They are called SunMate and Pudgee. The SunMate probably accounts for about 80% of Dynamic Systems sales. This is now used in orthopedic seating pads, mattress pads and FIPS (Foam in place seating) used for a lot of wheelchairs. The Pudgee form helps to provide relief from the skin breaking down. Then there is Laminar which is the what you get when you bond SunMate and Pudgee together.

The most significant thing with regards to memory foam is the improvements that have been made in a variety of different medical devices. The FIPS is a custom molded insert made of the memory foam and will protect different body parts from stress and fatigue. It will also help to improve the blood circulation by helping to distribute the seating pressure more evenly. The FIPS is actually a liquid that will harden quickly in order to make a custom seat. Prosthetic items also have found a way to modify FIPS to absorb skin color dyes and to make them feel more natural. It is even used for veterinary prosthetic devices as well.

The different medical benefits have simply been life saving especially for those with improved circulation for patients that are bed bound and wheelchair bound. Even helmets, helicopter seating, plane ejection seats and bulletproof vests use memory foam.

There is potential to be able to use this invention in even more ways. One way is for energy absorption as for crash protection material on Earth. There is a solid state foaming product that can be rigid at room temperature but once it becomes heated in any where it will become spongy.

Final Note: As wonderful as memory foam is, it is definitely not recommended for the use with babies. Babies should not use any kind of mattress or pillow that leaves any kind of impression on it.


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Keeping an Eye on Space Rocks

Thanks to the advancements in space technology, keeping an eye on the different space rocks such as asteroids, meteors and comets has become a lot easier for the amateur astronomer. It is now a lot easier to search the skies in order to discover new space rocks and track their movements. Modern space technology has given the amateur a lot of accurate ways in which to locate and track the objects. It's things like CCD (Charged Coupled Device), digital cameras with telescope mounts, some computer controlled telescope tripods and software that will analyze the CCD images that make tracking the objects so much easier.

To start your search you can set up your telescope up in a location that is safe and where it can stay put for at least one month at a time. You will need to make sure that your telescope is sheltered somehow if you don't have it sent up in a tent or another enclosed area. Once you have it set up you will then want to align it to Polaris or the North Star.

You can further align your telescope by using the “Drift Star Polar Alignment” technique. This is the final alignment and is going to prevent any stationary objects in the sky from “movement” in your other captured images.

After you have done all of this you will need to mount your digital CCD camera to the eyepiece of the lens of your telescope. Tighten it down on all of it's connections very firmly to prevent it from moving accidentally.

Next you will point your telescope toward the area of night sky that you want to monitor for any meteors, comets or asteroids. After you have your location set you should never move, jar or bump your telescope. You should try and take a 30 second image every night and make sure that it is at the same time each night by activating your digital CCD. If you have it on longer exposures you could make the objects look like streaks and not bright points of light.

At the end of the month you can download the images from that 30 days onto your computer so you can process them. Do this without disturbing the position that you have your telescope and camera in. This is of course if you are planning on keeping your equipment in the same place for another 30 day time period.

Take the photos and process them using a photo editing software program that you should already have installed on your computer. You might want to use the lasso tool to drag your mouse across a few inches of the black areas of your photos while you hold down on the left mouse button and this will select all of the black areas. Do this with all of your photos.

You can then convert all of the black areas to transparency. You then can save you photos by naming them and putting them in the PNG format because it handles and preserves transparent layers on photos whereas JPEG won't.

Now create a new image with a black background and it should be the same size as all your modified images. So, if your modified images are 600 pixels wide by 400 pixels high then your new image needs to be the same size. After you have done this, open up each of the images you may have modified, one at a time. You will right click on the image, copy and then paste into the new image. You will do this with all your transparent images, stacking them on top of each other.

This will allow you to analyze the different movements of the comets, meteorites or asteroids that will appear in your images. The movement of these objects will appear as straight dotted lines and all the other objects will just be single bright dots. You can then save the entire image with all the layers on it as a PNG file so you can use it to compare to the next months set of images.


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How is Nanotechnology Used in Space Technology?

First off nanotechnology is a new form of science that works on a molecular level that helps to assemble new materials by using the most fundamental of structures. This also means that all the work needs to be done in nano scale, this means that one nanometer is equal to just one billionth of a meter. By applying this kind of new technology to space technology is opening up a whole new world of scientific possibilities. One thing it does is to give the ability to nano-manufacture specialized equipment that is needed in space travel.

Such things like temperature, weight and resistance which are hugely different when out of our Earth's atmosphere can be controlled with nanotechnology. Even how a spacecraft might be constructed can determine how well it's going to stand up against adverse conditions on a mission. So if using nanotechnology you can build a spacecraft molecule by molecule in order to allow for the creation of very high performance materials.

There is also a branch of nanotechnology that is called nanorobotics that can make use of nano sized sensors and microscopes that are capable of analyzing a variety of materials and processes on the molecular level and this comes in handy for the study of organic materials in space. This means that the information is gathered and compiled in space with nano robots and then sent back to Earth via computers.

The effects of radiation on different electronic devices in space can be reduced if the devices they use are smaller. The corrosion, interference and mechanical strain on the devices can all be reduced. To counter these adverse effects they are developing a nano material that will be capable of getting harder when it's exposed to radiation for long periods of time.

They have also been working on making materials that can be used on spacecrafts as well as spacesuits. The materials are carbon nanotubes and boron nanotubes that have been developed. These new materials are very lightweight but stronger than the more conventional materials that are more commonly used today. They are also trying to build nanorobotic devices that can be put right into the covering of a spacecraft and this would allow them to act like computerized sensors that can readjust the actual surface of the craft to accommodate for all environment climate changes.

This nanotechnology is so new that all scientists working with it are still discovering all the new capabilities it has and all the new and different applications that it can have. Some ideas are to develop colonies of nanorobots to place on Mars and Venus as well as building what would be called space elevators that would place spacecraft and satellites into orbit around the Earth.

They can also be used to construct different projects on other planets simply by remote control. Even sensors and cameras could be built by the nanorobots in order to monitor the construction of the projects and they would be able to use all the environmental materials that would be at hand on the planet itself.

At this point in time, no one has any idea just how far nanotechnology will go in advancing space exploration, but for now, it looks like anything could be possible.


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