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Ray Castillo

Headquarters, Washington, DC October 11, 1995
(Phone: 202/358-4555)

Diane Ainsworth
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA
(Phone: 818/354-5011)

RELEASE: 95-181

STUDENTS PREPARE NEW KIDSAT PAYLOAD TO FLY ON SPACE
SHUTTLE

NASA has begun a new, three-year pilot education
program designed to bring the frontiers of space exploration
into classrooms via the Internet.

Known as KidSat, the program will allow students to
operate instruments and download images in real-time from the
Space Shuttle and in the future, from the international Space
Station.

KidSat is an innovative curriculum, coupled with
instruments, mission operations and information systems,
currently in development by NASA and the educational community
to explore Earth from space. With these new learning tools,
students will be able to view the Earth as the astronauts do
and gain valuable new perspectives on the scale and fragility
of the planet they will inherit.

"KidSat will be designed, built and operated by
students," said KidSat principal investigator Dr. JoBea Way of
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Pasadena, CA. "The
underlying philosophy of this program is to stimulate young
people's interests in learning by giving them their own piece
of the space program."

Three middle schools are participating in the initial
phase of the KidSat pilot program, including Samuel Gompers
Secondary School in San Diego, CA, Buist Academy in
Charleston, SC, and the Washington Accelerated Learning Center
in Pasadena, CA. JPL and the University of California, San
Diego (UCSD) have formed a partnership to support the student
project. JPL is preparing the flight and data system for the
program. UCSD will run the mission control gateway, linking
to student mission operations centers at each participating
school. Over the next two years, additional classrooms will
be connected to the UCSD mission control gateway from the
Omaha, Houston and Baltimore school districts.

As the KidSat payload begins to fly on selected
Shuttle missions, other aspects of the program will be
finalized and put in place. By the end of the pilot program,
the KidSat interactive Internet site will be fully on-line, a
new curriculum to accompany KidSat data will be available and,
if the pilot program is successful, the KidSat payload will be
ready for early flights on the international Space Station.

"KidSat represents an investment in the nation's
future, giving students exposure to environmental studies from
low-Earth orbit," said former astronaut Dr. Sally Ride, a
professor of physics at UCSD. Ride is leading the development
of the mission operations element of KidSat with NASA's
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, and a team of undergraduate
and graduate students.

"By attaching KidSat to the Space Shuttle, students
will be able to participate in space exploration as astronauts
and cosmonauts do," Ride said.

"The program will provide an innovative way to present
materials to students and will underscore the opportunities
they have to comprehend and master concepts that are being
presented," added Elizabeth Jones Stork, director of the
western regional branch of the Johns Hopkins University
Institute for the Academic Advancement of Youth. Johns
Hopkins is developing the educational curriculum component of
the program. "In turn, those experiences will challenge young
explorers and encourage them to apply their skills to real
world issues."

The first instrument payloads to fly aboard the Space
Shuttle will consist of an electronic still camera mounted in
the overhead window of the Orbiter and two video cameras
mounted in the cargo bay. Students will be able to operate the
cameras from their classroom and photograph regions of the
world that interest them.

If they are studying the principles of gravity or
geometry, for example, they would be able to use KidSat data
to visualize the concepts. Or they could use data to study
current events -- such as the flooding of the Mississippi
River, volcanic eruptions, or the advance of deforestation in
the Amazon -- and understand the impact of natural and human
activities on the environment. History, in turn, could be
recreated by imaging regions of the U.S. where famous battles
of the Civil War were fought.

After the pilot program is completed, the KidSat
cameras may be replaced by more elaborate instruments,
providing both telepresence capabilities and better remote-
sensing tools. Technologies to create a full telepresence in
space will be possible using JPL's digital image animation
laboratory and new optical technologies.

The KidSat pilot program is sponsored by NASA's Office
of Human Resources and Education, with support from the
Offices of Space Flight, Mission to Planet Earth, and Space
Science, Washington, DC.

-end-

EDITOR'S NOTE: Images of KidSat are available to media
representatives by calling the Headquarters Imaging branch on
202/358-1900. NASA photo numbers are: color: 95-HC-492
and 606 B&W: 95-H-541 and 617

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