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Earth to Space Station: Come In, Please

Earth to Space Station: Come In, Please

Posted: July 2, 2015

The Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium at Buffalo State is a partner in an effort to connect local students with astronauts aboard the International Space Station. The National Urban Alliance for Effective Education (NUA), the Harvey Austin Buffalo Public School, the Lancaster Amateur Radio Club, and the planetarium submitted a proposal to the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS).

ARISS is an international consortium of amateur radio organizations and space agencies including NASA. ARISS recently announced that the proposal put forth by the local collaborators is one of just 14 proposals that have been accepted during the first round of reviews. During the next phase of the selection process, the technical components will be evaluated. On June 16, ARISS and the project collaborators discussed details of the contact and the equipment plan via teleconference.

“Lisa Neasbitt of NUA contacted us to see if we would be interested in hosting this event,” said Kevin Williams, associate professor of earth sciences and science education and director of the planetarium. “We’re looking forward to this opportunity to bring students from the Harvey Austin School to Buffalo State where they will be able to talk live with astronauts on the space station. We will also be planning activities and tours on campus where the students will be able to experience our labs and facilities related to the STEM disciplines.” The event will be scheduled for early 2016, but, warned Williams, the timing has to be flexible because the astronauts’ work schedule can change.

“We are very hopeful that our collaboration will inspire Buffalo Public School students as they talk to the astronauts aboard the International Space Station,” said Neasbitt. “It’s a great opportunity to give students a hands-on experience in many different STEM disciplines, from astronomy to satellite technology. We are also grateful to the Lancaster Amateur Radio Club for introducing our students to the exciting hobby of ham radio.” Amateur, or ham, radio operators are enabling the Earth-to-space communication.

Pictured: A student talks to a crewmember onboard the ISS during an ARISS contact. Image courtesy of ARISS.

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