TRAPPIST-1 artwork and infographics

TRAPPIST.one  is an independent site dedicated to the  TRAPPIST-1 star system, recently discovered to have seven earth sized planets circling it, three of which are in the habitable zone (see postings here and here). The site includes a page of posters and infographics about the system created by Amanda J. Smith. Here is a sampling:

Collage 1
Orbit comparison.
Comparing area covered.
Collage 2

SpaceX Dragon berths to ISS. Cargo includes over 20 student experiments

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft, launched last Sunday from the Kennedy Space Center, berthed today to the International Space Station. Astronauts on the station reached out with a robotic arm, snagged the Dragon, and then attached the craft to the station:

The Dragon carries over 5,000 pounds (2300 kg) of supplies, hardware, and research materials, including 21 experiments from students in grade school through high school who are participating in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) . This is the 9th SSEP mission to the ISS:

SSEP is a partnership of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) and NanoRacks, LLC, a company that provides standardized experimental platforms on the ISS and also deploys small satellites into orbit from the station.

NanoRacks also co-sponsors DreamUp, a program to help young people crowd-fund, build, and launch experiments into space. The Dragon cargo included a DreamUp project: Another big DreamUp launch on SpaceX-10! — DreamUp

This was a really exciting launch for the team at DreamUp as we had the fantastic V3PO students fly all the way from Germany to join us for the launch. These students crowd-funded their plant-growth research project and got some great advisors on board, including Airbus and BASF Crop Protection. With the team put together, the students commenced their vegetative plant propagation.

Learn more about the plant growth experiment here.

All together, DreamUp was able to bring over 55 student researchers and advisors to this launch. We really saw our students’ perseverance when on the first planned launch date…the launch was scrubbed with just 13 seconds to go! They held on to all of their excitement and brought it to the launch the following day, with big smiles and loud cheers as they saw the rocket go up, holding on tight to their experiments.

The V3PO team receiving their DreamUp Wings certificates with the view of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) in the background. Photo credits DreamUp

DreamUp plans for more student experiments going to space in the year ahead: DreamUp Launches in 2017! — DreamUp

Last year alone, we launched over 60 educational payloads to space on five different rockets, designed by student researchers from 7 different countries. We’ve also grown our myLAUNCH and DreamUp graduation programs – offering 50 students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend a rocket launch and honoring over 100 DreamUp graduates with certificates to celebrate their incredible achievements and welcome them to our growing alumni community. 

Part of DreamUp’s core mission is to immerse students and educators at every level of education in the wonder of outer space through engaging programs that highlight the multifaceted applications of STEM skills and the growing opportunities in the global space industry.  In 2016, we produced and released our first-ever, completely free, curriculum for educators.  Located on our website, the “Eye in the Sky” curriculum was developed in partnership with Jenny Pieratt at CraftED and incorporates space-based data and images to help students determine whether the Earth is a just planet.  All are welcome to download and use this Next Generation Science Standard-compliant resource at no cost, but if you do, please send us feedback so we can incorporate your thoughts in our next curriculum release!

Looking ahead, we foresee a very active 2017. As we implement the first-ever DreamUp Challenge, realize partnership agreements with some of the largest school districts in the country, and invite more and more student researchers to experience the wonder of rocket launches, DreamUp will continue to improve our services as the leading provider for experiential learning in space. 

Video of Panel discussion of exoplanets around TRAPPIST-1 + Travel poster

Here is a video of the NASA panel discussion of the findings by an international team of the TRAPPIST-1 star system with 7 earth sized exoplanets (see earlier posting here).

The briefing participants included:

  • Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington
  • Michael Gillon, astronomer at the University of Liege in Belgium
  • Sean Carey, manager of NASA’s Spitzer Science Center at Caltech/IPAC, Pasadena, California
  • Nikole Lewis, astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore
  • Sara Seager, professor of planetary science and physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

Here is NASA’s announcement of the discovery: NASA Telescope Reveals Record-Breaking Exoplanet Discovery

Check out the cool travel poster for TRAPPIST-1:

Everyone can participate in space