Student Scientists Rock On!
A sounding rocket launches

A Terrier-Orion sounding rocket carries student payloads during the RockOn workshop. Image Credit: NASA

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For many students, the chance to design and build a small science instrument at a NASA facility would be an amazing opportunity.

Seeing that instrument flown on a NASA rocket during the workshop would make the opportunity that much more amazing.

Twenty-five university students and professors attended the third RockOn Workshop at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore. During the week-long event, workshop participants built small scientific instrument payloads that were then flown on a NASA sounding rocket. The experiments included a battery of sensors that took environmental readings during the flight. The payloads were built from kits during the workshop and can be used again by the workshop participants on high-altitude balloon flights or future sounding-rocket flights.

At the end of the workshop, the experiments were flown on a two-stage Terrier-Orion rocket to an altitude of 73 miles. The rocket then returned to Earth, allowing the payload to be recovered and returned to the experimenters within hours after launch. Sounding rockets are small, suborbital rockets used for scientific research.

Along with the seven "RockOn" experiments built by the teams at the workshop, the rocket also carried 11 custom-built "RockSat" experiments designed by teams from 10 universities that had participated in previous RockOn workshops. More than 50 RockSat students and faculty were at Wallops during the RockOn workshop and launch.

RockOn Workshop and RockSat participants pose together

RockOn and RockSat participants were able to analyze preliminary experiment data at the workshop. Image Credit: NASA

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During the RockOn workshop, participants were also able to conduct early data analysis from the flight (preliminary analysis showed data was received on all the experiments), learn more about sounding rockets and research, and tour the facilities at NASA Wallops. Within NASA, Wallops specializes in the area of scientific and educational projects involving suborbital and small orbital payloads.

The workshop was funded by NASA's National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program in partnership with the Colorado and Virginia Space Grant Consortia and significant cost sharing from the Wallops Flight Facility. The Space Grant national network includes more than 800 affiliates from universities, colleges, industry, science centers, and state and local agencies. Their goal is to support and enhance science and engineering education, and research and public outreach efforts for NASA's aeronautics and space projects. These affiliates belong to one of 52 consortia in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Related Resources
RockOn   →
NASA's Wallops Flight Facility
National Space Grant College and Fellowship Project   →
NASA Education

David Hitt/NASA Educational Technology Services