7/12/2008 09:05:00 PM
Space and lunar exploration are truly exciting! Whenever I am telling someone about the Google Lunar X PRIZE and what we are doing here at the X PRIZE Foundation, he/she gets incredibly thrilled about it!
I heard so many people telling me that they are finding lunar exploration so exciting and that they’d love to get involved! But that it’s only a dream and there is no way for them to actually get involved! Because they are not engineers or scientists, because they are from a country that doesn’t have a lunar exploration program, because it’s too difficult, because they are too young…Just too many reasons!! I am always surprised to see people giving up so quickly, without even seriously thinking about if for a reasonable time, when there is just so much to do out there!
So I couldn’t think of a better way to inaugurate this new blog than giving away a few ideas, tips and resources on how YOU could get involved in lunar exploration!
- Parabolic Flights: Let’s start with something pretty cool! Most space agencies have a program to allow students to fly in zero-G parabolic flights!! This really could be you! Most of the time, what you'll have to do is to come up with an idea for an experiment that would be performed in microgravity. Again, while many experiments are about experimental physics (fluid behaviour,…) or human body behaviour in zero-G, there are plenty of them that can be turned in fun experiments that don’t really require a strong scientific background, such as the Space Ball 3D (Ever tried foosball in zero-G?) or the Space Print (Ever wanted to try paintball in zero-G?) experiments!
Of course, this may not seem to be directly related to lunar exploration, although you often want to test your lunar orbiter design in zero-g before the real mission in order to validate it (especially deployment mechanisms for example), so you can both have fun and get ready to shoot for the Moon at the same time!
- Student Lunar Orbiter Projects: There are several opportunities for students to get involved in real projects and to get hands-on experience on actually designing, building and launching a lunar spacecraft!
For European students, the main project is the European Student Moon Orbiter (ESMO): the SSETI association, which is gathering students from all over Europe, is building this lunar orbiter, building on the legacy of SSETI Express, their first Earth-satellite launched in 2005 and on the European Student Earth Orbiter (ESEO) to be launched in the not-so-distant future! Still recently, more student teams were searched for to join ESMO, so you may want to check this out!
Another opportunity for American students that want to build a lunar spacecraft is the American Student Moon Orbiter (ASMO). Again, students will build and own the spacecraft, not NASA, and university students will even mentor customized related education activities for K-12 students too!
Having worked for ESEO until last year, I can tell it's a great chance to learn a lot about spacecraft (it goes with a lot of work too...), to meet other space-minded brilliant students from all over Europe and above to have loads of fun during the workshops! Plus those two projects will certainly provide opportunities for parabolic flights for the students who would have been working on those...
- Space Agencies Education Program: Most space agencies offer fantastic education programs and opportunities for anyone, from activities for elementary school kids to internship for graduate students, from high-school contest to education for non-space experienced business executives:
- NASA Education: Some of the greatest programs are the famous NASA Academy for college students and the cool dedicated activities for young kids.
- European Space Agency (ESA) Education: One of the coolest most recent program in lunar exploration is the brand new Lunar Robotics Challenge.
- Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Education: There are so many things going that JAXA opened a dedicated space education center! Find out more on the education activities related to the ISS and the Space Shuttle!
National Space Agencies: Many countries have a space education program through their national space agency. While I can't help but featuring the French Space Agency (CNES) and its Space Education Program , a quick look at this list of space agencies worldwide should allow you to find a geographically-customized space education program!
And of course, the best part for the end:
The Google Lunar X PRIZE is offering you many ways to get involved in private lunar exploration! To give you a quick idea on just how diverse are the people already involved: work is being done in more than 70 countries by team members aged from less than 10 to more than 70 years old! (Find out more statistics on this previous blog post)
Official teams offers different opportunities to different people: Students are heavily involved in teams such as Astrobotic or Team Italia, JURBAN is focused on underprivileged people while Team Frednet allows you to work from home on your free-time via Internet, etc...
Going back to the Moon will not only involve people working in engineering &science! Now more than never, official Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams may be looking for people with knowledge and skills in: communication, finance, media production, journalism, graphic design, business, sponsorship, social media, accounting, education, national and international laws, IT, public relation, ...
Whoever you are, whatever you age, education or nationality are, if you have a passion for exploration, you can be part of the competition!