PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Stephanie Zeluck
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 14, 1997
KIDSAT BRINGS SPACE SHUTTLE EXPERIENCE TO CLASSROOMS
The Space Shuttle Atlantis, launched on Jan. 12, will support
the second flight of KidSat, NASA's pilot education program that
uses an electronic still camera aboard
the Shuttle to bring the frontiers of space exploration to 15
U.S. middle school classrooms via the Internet.
The three-year pilot program is a partnership between NASA's
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the University of California at
San Diego (UCSD), and the Johns Hopkins
University Institute for the Academic Advancement of Youth (JHU-
During the Shuttle mission, the KidSat mission operations
center at UCSD will be staffed by undergraduate and high school
students. The center is modeled after Mission Control at
NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston. The students
receive telemetry from the Shuttle on their computer monitors and
can listen to and receive instructions from NASA's flight
controllers over direct channels to JSC.
The KidSat mission operations team monitors the Shuttle's
progress around the clock and continually provides up-to-date
information to the middle schools, who are using the Internet
to send instructions to photograph specific regions of the Earth.
Since any change in the Shuttle's orbit can affect students'
selections, UCSD constantly updates this information so that the
middle schools may re-plan their photographic requests if
necessary. This is done through a sophisticated
World Wide Web site that allows students access to interactive
maps of orbit ground tracks to aid in photo selection.
When the image requests have been verified by KidSat mission
operations, they are compiled into a single camera control file
and forwarded electronically to the KidSat representatives at
JSC. They pass this file on to flight controllers who uplink it
to an IBM Thinkpad connected to the KidSat camera. Software on
the Thinkpad, developed by students working at JPL, uses these
commands to control the camera. These same students trained the
astronauts on the use of the software and the installation of the
KidSat camera in the Shuttle's overhead window.
After the photographs are taken, they are sent back down to
the KidSat data system at JPL, staffed by high school students
during the mission and posted on the World Wide Web for the
students to study and analyze. The curriculum used by the middle
school students and teachers is being developed by the JHU-IAAY
Some of the topics the students explored during the first
KidSat mission were weather, biomes, the relationship between
history and geography and the patterns of rivers on the
landscape. Additional interests for this mission include
searching for impact craters and studying the relationships of
center pivot irrigation fields to available water supply.
Images and student results will be posted on the KidSat home
page. Interested public school districts, teachers, and students
may view the images and information provided by students during
the mission via this World Wide Web site:
The KidSat pilot program is sponsored by NASA's Office of
Human Resources and Education, with support from the Offices of
Space Flight, Mission to Planet Earth, and Space Science.