JP Aerospace sends 6 balloons and 1700 student PongSats to edge of space

JP Aerospace carried out more Near Space flights last weekend: Mission Success, Six Flights to the Edge of Space –

Sunday Oct 26th we flew six high altitude balloon to the top of the stratosphere. We carried over 1700 PongSat student experiments, two MiniCubes, twelve HD cameras and a host of in house experiments. We also flew the reward signs for our Kickstarter effort that raised the funds for the flights. The last flight of the day was our 171st mission.

Some of the photos from the flights:







Challenger Learning Center with new design unveiled in San Antonio, Texas

A message from the Challenger Center:

Challenger Center Unveils First Newly Designed
Challenger Learning Center

STEM education organization continues to inspire and
educate students around the globe

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center), the international science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education organization, unveiled a newly designed Challenger Learning Center at San Antonio College. The state-of-the-art Center has quickly become Challenger Center’s flagship facility. It is the first completely new design since the organization was founded nearly 30 years ago and represents the future look and feel of Challenger Center’s simulated STEM education experience.

“Today’s students have different expectations than students did years ago,” said Dr. Lance Bush, president and CEO, Challenger Center. “We know our model works, and the concept of Mission Control and the Space Station will always be our foundation. But it was time to take that classic Challenger Learning Center to a new level.”


The new Center features a futuristic look and a more functional design while incorporating the best parts of the organization’s original Challenger Learning Center. A revamped open floor model gives students more room to work together in the Space Station. Each student has the chance to interact with at least one hands-on lab during the mission. Large monitors above each work station display emergency alerts and videos throughout the sequence, providing additional engagement and interactivity. Mission Control now resembles what current Mission Control rooms look like with collaborative work stations, large high-definition screens to enhance the visual experience, and computer monitors that drop down into the tables to allow for more flexibility.

The Center is part of the Scobee Education Center, a state-of-the-art 22,000 square foot facility combining the school’s planetarium with the new Challenger Learning Center. The completed Scobee Education Center is named in honor of Challenger Space Shuttle Commander Dick Scobee and his widow June Scobee Rodgers who attended the college together. June Scobee Rodgers along with the other Challenger crew families founded Challenger Center after the shuttle tragedy.

“We are so very grateful for the opportunity to open our first next generation Challenger Learning Center, a design that represents the future of Challenger Center, in San Antonio” said Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, founding chair, Challenger Center. “It is especially meaningful for it to be part of the Scobee Education Center, extending the relationship between my family, the Challenger astronauts, and San Antonio College.”

Building on students’ natural enthusiasm for space, Challenger Center uses simulated space missions to strengthen knowledge and excitement about STEM subjects. The newest educational missions, Earth Odyssey and Lunar Quest, were developed with the help of NASA and NOAA so that students would be given the opportunity to analyze real-life data. In addition to applying the knowledge they have learned in the classroom, the missions allow students to practice important skills like problem-solving, communication and teamwork. Today, Challenger Center has more than 40 Challenger Learning Centers around the globe in 26 states and three other countries.

About Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center)

As a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, Challenger Center and its international network of Challenger Learning Centers use space simulations to engage students in dynamic, hands-on opportunities. These experiences strengthen knowledge in STEM subjects and inspire students to pursue careers in these important fields. Centers reach hundreds of thousands of students each year. Founded in 1986, Challenger Center was created to honor the crew of shuttle flight STS-51-L: Dick Scobee, Gregory Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, and Michael J. Smith. Learn more about Challenger Center at and connect with us on, and

Planet Hunters citizen scientists contribute again to the discovery of a new exoplanet

Yale grad student Joseph R. Schmitt says that the discovery of a new exoplanet was enabled by the work of volunteers in the Planet Hunters  citizens science program. Schmitt is first author on a paper about the discovery:

A New Paper and New Planet Discoveries

We’re happy to announce the discovery of a new planet discovered by Planet Hunters volunteers, which is now published in The Astrophysical Journal. You can read the article for free on the arXiv here.

[1410.8114] Planet Hunters VII. Discovery of a New Low-Mass, Low-Density Planet (PH3 c) Orbiting Kepler-289 with Mass Measurements of Two Additional Planets (PH3 b and d)]

The star (PH3/Kepler-289/KOI-1353/KIC 7303287) is young and Sun-like. Two planets in the system, with periods of 35 and 126 days, had been previously validated statistically, the outer planet being a gas giant. However, Planet Hunters volunteers discovered a third transit signal between these two planets at a period of 66 days (PH3 c).

A quirk in the system allowed us to actually measure the mass of all the planets using only the exact times that each planet transited. The outer two planets, PH3 c and d, do not have a constant period like most planets do. Instead, it oscillates around an average value in a regular manner, which meant that it had been missed by computer algorithms but was easy to find for human eyes. In particular, the period of PH3 c changes by 10.5 hours in just 10 orbits due to the gravitational influence of the outer gas giant tugging on the middle planet. If Earth experienced such large changes, then if 2014 were 365 days long, 2024 would be 367.4 days long, almost two and a half days longer than 2014.

The new planet is about 2.7 times the radius of Earth and 4 times as massive. Its low density means that, despite its low mass, a large chunk of the planet must be composed of hydrogen and helium: 2% by mass and 50% by radius. The outer planet, on the other hand, is like a warm version of our Saturn, while the inner planet’s mass is poorly known. It could be mostly rocky, watery, or gassy.

We would like to thank all of the people involved in the project and all of the Planet Hunters volunteers for making this possible. We hope to find more gems like this in the future.

Sci-Tech: AeroMobil 3.0 rolls and soars

The AeroMobil 3.0 Flying car looks weirdly elegant in the air: Watch the AeroMobil 3.0 Flying Car Take to the Skies – Popular Mechanics

From the caption:

The current flying car prototype AeroMobil 3.0 incorporates significant improvements and upgrades. It is now being tested in real flight conditions since October 2014. Initially certified by the Slovak Federation of Ultra-Light Flying, it now entered a regular flight-testing program.

The AeroMobil 3.0 prototype is very close to the final product. It is predominantly built from the same materials as the final product, such as advanced composite materials for the body shell, wings, and wheels. It also contains all the main features that will be incorporated into the final product, such as avionics equipment, autopilot and an advanced parachute deployment system.

Chinese lunar test vehicle sends great image of Earth and Moon

The Chinese Chang’e 5 T1 spacecraft was launched on October 23rd as a technology test for a lunar sample return mission planned for 2017. The T1 has done a fly-by of the Moon and will re-enter the earth’s atmosphere on Friday and land in Mongolia.

Some great pictures taken from the fly have been posted at More about the images at