MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91190.TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Carolina Martinez, (818) 354-9382
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 14, 2000
NASA PROGRAM HELPS BRAIN-INJURED PATIENTS REACH
FOR THE STARS
Brain-injured patients are exploring the stars with a
click of a computer mouse, thanks to a special hands-on,
interactive NASA education program.
Through Telescopes In Education, sponsored by NASA's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., patients are no
longer limited by their physical barriers and are free to
stretch their imaginations.
In May, a dozen patients who suffered severe head
injuries took control of a science-grade reflecting telescope
located at the Mount Wilson Observatory, high above the Los
Angeles basin in the San Gabriel Mountains. Using the
Internet, patients at Delta Rehabilitation Facility for the
Severely Head-Injured in Snohomish, Wash., downloaded digital
images of nine deep space objects, including several galaxies
and star clusters.
The director of Internet Services for the Brain Injury
Association of Washington, Paul Walsh, and his wife, Valarie,
began teaching basic astronomy to a roomful of Delta residents
nearly one year ago. Walsh discovered the patients were an
eager and attentive group of students.
"People who have sustained a major brain injury often
have a keen and hungry intelligence that has been masked and
hidden behind the devastation caused by their injuries," Walsh
said. "I had a hunch astronomy might be a way to help tear
down the walls, not just mental and emotional, but literally
the physical walls that separate the residents of Delta from
the outside world."
The program allows educators and students around the
world to remotely control research-quality telescopes and
charge-coupled device cameras created at JPL and located at
the Mount Wilson Observatory. All they need is a computer
modem and special astronomy software.
Educators and students from all over the world get hands-
on, real-time interaction from the comfort of their
classrooms. This type of interaction enables students to
increase their knowledge of astronomy, astrophysics, and
mathematics; improve their computer literacy; and strengthen
their critical thinking skills. Hundreds of schools in the
United States and around the world, including Australia,
Canada, England and Japan, have used the telescope
successfully over the past seven years.
In 1999, the program enabled more than 10,850 students,
located in 25 states, to conduct astronomical observations and
meaningful research. Use of the system is free except for the
purchase of the remote software, which controls the telescope.
The Delta rehabilitation facility is associated with and
supports the Brain Injury Association, whose mission is to
create a better future through brain injury prevention,
research, education and advocacy. The prime mission at Delta
Rehab is to help residents "live life," all of it. To that
end, the staff, family members and volunteers from the
surrounding community do their best to bring life and
stimulation right to the residents.
Telescopes In Education is a NASA education outreach
program sponsored by NASA's High Performance Computing and
Communications Learning Technologies Program, the Office of
Space Science and the Office of Human Resources and Education.
JPL space exploration missions, businesses and numerous
volunteers also support the program. Managed for NASA by the
California Institute of Technology, JPL is the lead U.S.
center for robotic exploration of the solar system.
"We are sincerely grateful to JPL and Mount Wilson for
the Telescopes In Education Program. It's one of the best
down-to-earth ideas they've ever come up with," added Walsh.
"The program is all about tying people to the stars: the
young, the disabled, the city bound and the imagination
Information on the Telescopes in Education program is
available at http://tie.jpl.nasa.gov/ .
Delta Rehab information on this special project and a link
to the Brain Injury Association Web site is located at
Note to Broadcasters: A video file to accompany this release
is scheduled to air on NASA Television tomorrow, Wed., Nov.
15; Thurs., Nov. 16; and Fri., Nov. 17. A live-shot
television interview opportunity with program spokesperson is
available via NASA Television on Thursday, Nov. 16, from 5:30-
9 p.m. Eastern Time (2:30-6 p.m. Pacific Time). For NASA
Television schedule information see
NASA Television is broadcast on GE-2, transponder 9C, C-Band,
located at 85 degrees West longitude. The frequency is 3880.0
MHz. Polarization is vertical and audio is monaural at 6.8
MHz. For general questions about the NASA Video File,
contact: Fred Brown, NASA Television, Washington, D.C. (202)