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John Bluck
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: (650) 604-5026/9000

October 19, 2006
University Students are Helping NASA with GeneSat Mission
Media Advisory: Dozens of university students are helping NASA to prepare, monitor and analyze the science from a 'nano' satellite scheduled to launch in December.

NASA's GeneSat-1 satellite is scheduled to ride aboard an Air Force rocket being launched into Earth orbit on Dec. 11, 2006. The small satellite will carry bacteria that researchers will analyze to determine the effects of space flight on microscopic living things.

News media are invited to view the small satellite facility at NASA's Ames Research Center located in California's Silicon Valley, on Thursday, Oct. 26, from 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. PDT. Reporters also may see a GeneSat satellite being tested, and will be able to interview students from Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, Calif. Ames' John Hines, GeneSat project manager, and Bruce Yost, GeneSat mission manager, will also be on hand for interviews.

The 10-pound (4.5-kilogram) satellite will be a 'secondary payload' on an Air Force Minotaur rocket, derived from a Minuteman missile and modified to launch payloads into orbit. The main purpose of the launch from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia is to loft an Air Force TacSat 2 satellite into orbit. NASA's separate GeneSat-1 will carry bacteria inside a miniature laboratory to study how the microbes may change genetically during spaceflight.

The micro-laboratory includes sensors and optical systems that can detect proteins and specific genetic activity. The student-operated GeneSat communications system, located in the Stanford foothills, will receive data via radio from the satellite's onboard micro-laboratory after it has completed its observations and tests of the bacteria carried on the spacecraft. This data will be relayed through the Internet to the GeneSat mission operations center at NASA Ames.

Santa Clara University students will control the spacecraft from the mission operations center at NASA Ames. The students developed software that will send commands to the satellite, analyze spacecraft health and calibrate biological data.

With this program, NASA continues the agency's tradition of investing in the nation's education programs. The program directly ties into the agency's major education goal of strengthening NASA and the nation's future workforce. Through this and the agency's other college and university programs, NASA will identify and develop the critical skills and capabilities needed to achieve the Vision for Space Exploration.

WHAT: Opportunity to interview Santa Clara University students and NASA scientists about their role in the GeneSat project.

WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 26, 2006, from 10 a.m. -12:30 p.m. PDT.

WHO: Santa Clara University students; Ames' John Hines, GeneSat project manager; and Bruce Yost, GeneSat mission manager.

WHERE: NASA Ames Research Center's small satellite processing facility, Bldg. N240. News media representatives who wish to attend the GeneSat event should report by 10 a.m. PDT, Oct. 26, 2006, to Ames' Visitor Badging Office, located at the Ames main gate.

To reach Ames, take the Moffett Field exit off Highway 101 and drive east to the main gate and Visitor Badging Office. Maps to the small satellite processing facility will be provided.

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