Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hawaii students to design and operate a NASA experiment on the surface of the moon

Moon RIDERS announcement at Kealakehe High School. Credit: PISCES
When state legislators provided funding for the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES), a Hilo-based state government aerospace agency under the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), they hoped that the education arm of the entity would encourage Hawaii’s students to shoot for the moon. 

Little did they expect that goal to be taken literally. But a partnership between PISCES and NASA will task students from Honolulu’s Iolani School and the Big Island’s Kealakehe High School to design and operate an experiment on the surface on the moon by the end of 2016. 

The experiment involves electrodynamic dust shield technology and the selected Hawaii students will be mentored by NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The project came about through an agreement with PISCES and NASA to work on a Hawaii high school STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) project. 

“It's exciting that, out of all the public high schools in the State, Kealakehe was chosen for this. It really reflects on the students' hard work and achievements through the years, especially the robotics team,” said Rep. Nicole Lowen (Kailua-Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa, Honokohau). “I—and I'm sure everyone on the Big Island—take great pride in this amazing opportunity they have earned. I can't wait to watch the project unfold." 

“I am impressed and overjoyed by the selection of students from Iolani School to take part in this outstanding project,” added Rep. Chris Lee (Kailua, Waimanalo), a graduate of Iolani School. “My enthusiastic congratulations to all of the students who will take part in this great adventure, as well as their teachers and parents.” 

“To have Hawaii students involved in such a project with NASA is amazing and wonderful, and speaks to the level of talent and creativity we have among our young folks,” said Rep. Scott Nishimoto (Kapahulu, McCully, Moiliili). “It makes me very optimistic about the future of this state.” 

The dust shield experiment is the culmination of years of NASA research and development. The technology repels and removes planetary dust, which collects on surfaces like solar panels and space hardware, by using a high-voltage, low-current device. The technology has been tested extensively on earth, but has yet to be test in space or on the surface of the moon.

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