NASA Wants Your Help Developing Autonomous Rovers

Autonomous robots will assist future astronauts during long-duration missions to other worlds by performing tedious, repetitive and even strenuous tasks. These robotic helpers will let crews focus on the more meticulous areas of exploring. To help achieve this, NASA’s Centennial Challenges program, along with Space Center Houston of Texas, opened the second phase of the NASA Space Robotics Challenge. This virtual challenge aims to advance autonomous robotic operations for missions on the surface of distant planets or moons.

“We believe the public has ideas that can help us advance the state-of-the-art in autonomous robotic operations on planetary surfaces,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. “The first phase of this competition demonstrated teams could create sophisticated autonomous software, and this second phase will push teams to pair those capabilities with tasks that will be critical to exploring the Moon and Mars.”

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Grand Opening of Space Grant Store!

The National Space Grant Foundation (NSGF) ( is pleased to announce the Grand Opening of  our Space Grant Store at, which has been carefully created to share and sell fun and educational STEM and Space Related merchandise.  Visitors supporting help fund our programming needs to reach more students to become involved in STEM and space related education and careers.  NSGF intends for the to be the Ultimate STEM and Space related merchandise Super Store for STEM and space enthusiasts around the world in the months and years ahead.

More products are arriving weekly at so check back often, especially during holiday gift giving time and birthdays! Your generous donation at helps NSGF fund our ability and programming to reach more students, with our goal to impact a million more STEM and Space Explorers by 2025, so please consider a donation to support our cause today!

ASU students create miniature space satellite that can track climate change

Standing only a foot tall, the cubed shaped, shiny satellite could be the future to understanding temperature and climate on earth.

All of it is made possible by a group of inspiring Arizona State University students.

“To finally see everyone’s work over three years just represented as one system,” said student researcher Sarah Rodgers. “It’s more than I can describe.”

The device is called the “Phoenix,” a perfect name given the machine’s purpose.

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NASA’s Mars 2020 Comes Full Circle

Engineers took NASA’s Mars 2020 for a spin on Aug. 29, 2019. The 2,300-pound (1,040-kilogram) Martian vehicle was rotated clockwise and counterclockwise at about 1 revolution per minute on what is called a spin table in the clean room of the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (The rotation was speeded up in the video above.) The engineers were looking for the rover’s center of gravity, or the point at which weight is evenly dispersed on all sides.

Establishing the rover’s center of gravity is a key part of the assembly process and helps ensure that the spacecraft travels smoothly from launch to entry, descent and landing on Mars as calculated. Engineers can add weights in order to help balance out the vehicle. In the end, they affixed nine tungsten weights totaling 44 pounds (20 kilograms) to the rover chassis at predetermined attachment points to get the center of gravity just right.

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Saturn shines in latest NASA image: ‘Rings are still as stunning as ever’

Amateur astronomers in the Northern Hemisphere may be able to currently see Saturn, but NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has taken a series of images of the ringed planet that give new details about its rings, as well as its ever-changing weather.

In a blog post, NASA said the images snapped by the telescope “are more than just beauty shots,” adding that they shed new light on a planet that has “a turbulent, dynamic atmosphere.”

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Easton teen designed lunar habitat in NASA internship

Olivia Pierce spent part of her summer vacation at NASA and she wants to help other students get the same kinds of unique opportunities.

The Oliver Ames High School senior attended a NASA STEM Enhancement in Earth Science (SEES) internship at the University of Texas in Austin for two weeks this past July.

The internship, offered by the Texas Space Grant Consortium and University of Texas at Austin Center for Space Research provides selected students with exposure to Earth and space research. All expenses were covered in the internship. Pierce only paid for her flight, but some travel grants are available.

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Astronomers Detect the Most Massive Neutron Star Yet

Astronomers have discovered the most massive example yet of the dead stars known as neutron stars, one almost too massive to exist, a new study finds.

Neutron stars, like black holes, are corpses of stars that died in catastrophic explosions known as supernovas. When a star goes supernova, the core of its remains collapses under the strength of its own gravitational pull. If this remnant is massive enough, it may form a black hole, which has gravity so powerful that not even light can escape. A less massive core will form a neutron star, so named because its gravity is strong enough to crush protons together with electrons to form neutrons.

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NASA administrator visits UND

The University of North Dakota’s relationship with NASA was brought to the forefront on Wednesday, Sept. 4, with a visit from the agency’s top leader.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, alongside Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., spent time touring UND’s space-related facilities, including its Mars habitat. The two also participated in a town hall discussion with UND students, faculty and staff.

UND has a strong research relationship with NASA. UND is the lead institution for the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium and ND NASA EPSCoR.

UND’s Human Spaceflight Laboratory, which was formed 15 years ago, focuses on the research, design and production of spacesuit and habitat prototypes. UND is the first university with a NASA-funded laboratory dedicated to designing and constructing space-exploration and planetary surface-exploration suits.

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A rocket launched Crosby’s scientific package in January. Three plastic tanks containing different amounts of water were outside of earth’s atmosphere for about four minutes. Space crafts have to tow extra fuel, and that can cost millions of dollars.

“So there was this famous moment on the moon landing,” Crosby said of the July 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing. “When the alarms were going off and they had 30 seconds before they were going to run out of fuel — turns out they weren’t going to run out fuel, but it was a very tense and traumatic moment because we don’t have a good way of knowing how much fuel is in the tank.”

In 2010, Crosby and his students applied to design and develop an experiment to test an idea by Kennedy Space Center engineer Rudy Werlink. Werlink hypothesized a spacecraft’s natural vibrations could be used to determine the amount of fuel left in the gas tank.

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Grand Forks middle school girls get call – from space

A group of Grand Forks middle school girls, along with friends and family members, met in Clifford Hall on UND’s campus Monday morning, Aug. 19, for a very special phone call – from astronaut Christina Koch, currently on mission aboard the International Space Station.

The group of about 16 middle school students and their families, as well as a few members of the public, met in a lecture room with presenters Caitlin Nolby, deputy director of The North Dakota Space Grant Consortium, and Coordinator Marissa Saad, who hosted an after-school space camp for 20 middle-school girls in the “SciGirls in Space” project, during the Spring 2019 semester, on the UND campus.

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