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Autumn leaves at NASA Glenn
A view of the two elements of Gateway - power and propulsion element (PPE) and the habitation and logistics outpost (HALO).

Glenn High School Capstones
Power Management and Distribution

NASA Glenn Research Center is always looking for dynamic new ways to connect students with the mission content of the Agency. The Office of STEM Engagement (OSTEM) has an interest in providing high school students with opportunities which they can pursue research in support of capstone projects based upon real NASA science and engineering mission content.

Visit NASA Glenn Office of STEM Engagement about Glenn High School Capstones
Power Management and Distribution

Electrical power is the most critical resource for the International Space Station (ISS) because it allows the crew to live comfortably, safely operate the station, and to perform scientific experiments. Therefore, whether used to power the life support systems, run a furnace that makes crystals, manage a computerized data network, or operate a centrifuge, electricity is essential. Since the only readily available source of energy for spacecraft is sunlight, NASA Glenn Research Center has pioneered, and continues to develop, technologies that efficiently convert solar energy to electrical power. One method of harnessing this energy, called photovoltaics, uses purified silicon solar cells to directly convert light to electricity. Large numbers of cells are assembled in arrays to produce high power levels.

Capstone Summary

For this capstone, students will design a Power System that will provide power to fans in order to circulate air utilizing solar and battery power.  With the use of a microprocessor, students will create a power system that will automatically re-route power at low levels as well as providing an automated shutdown when both power sources are low.  If time permits, students can add additional load features such as lights as well load banks to simulate computers and experiments.

Test Rig Components and Specifications

For the testbed, students will utilize a 20W 5Vdc solar power panel and rechargeable batteries (with charge control built in) to power to three (3) toy motors to be used as fans for air circulation. Typical electrical components used (but not limited to) include transistors, resistors, diodes, and relays in order to interface with the microprocessor.

Key Dates

  • August 4, 2023 – Applications for the 2023-24 school year are open
  • September 22, 2023 – Fall application deadline, applications are due.
  • September 29, 2023 – Schools notified of fall application results
  • October 18, 2022, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. –Educator Professional Development (on-site and/or virtual)
  • October 25, 2023, 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Virtual Kick-Off with NASA Subject Matter Expert(s)
  • January 5, 2024 – Winter application deadline, applications are due
  • January 12, 2024 – Schools notified of winter application results
  • February 7, 2024, 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Virtual Subject Matter Expert Connection
  • April 24, 2024, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Capstone Culminating Event including student design presentations and corresponding lab tour on-site at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Participating schools unable to attend and/or outside the region will have an opportunity to present virtually.

2023 – 2024 Application Process

o apply please complete both the NASA Gateway application and the Supplemental application form as follows:

To access the 2023 – 2024 NASA Gateway application, please click here.

To access the 2023 – 2024 Supplemental application form, please click here.

After downloading and completing the Supplemental Application Form, please save it and upload the completed form as an attachment as part of the NASA STEM Gateway application.  Both application forms must be completed to be considered for this opportunity.

Contact Information

Gerald Voltz
Education Program Specialist

Phone: (216) 433-6656

Glenn Research Center – Office of STEM Engagement