ROADS on Icy Worlds — Mission Advisor workshop 🗓

Our Mission Advisor workshop is confirmed for this Friday, January 7. We’ll go over critical aspects of many of the challenge’s Mission Objectives, with lots of time for Q&A. The session will be recorded and available on our website, YouTube channel, and Facebook page.


Can’t make the workshop but have questions? Email us in advance and we’ll make sure to cover them on Friday!

ROADS on Icy Worlds Challenge Q&A 🗓

So the new ROADS challenge is open for registration, and this year we’re going to some of the icy worlds of the solar system. But what does it all mean? Join us Monday, December 13, at 1:30 p.m. (Pacific Time) to ask us all your questions and get as many answers as we have! The Q&A will be on Zoom and, yes, we will record it and post it to our YouTube page.

Final video to be posted soon!

ROADS “Meet an Expert” — Investigating asteroids with Nicole Lunning (April 1, 2021) 🗓

How do scientists study asteroids? On April 1, 2021, NASA scientist Nicole Lunning joined us to chat about exciting missions to asteroids (OSIRIS-REx, Dawn & more!) and how scientists investigate samples returned by spacecraft as well as meteorites in laboratories at the NASA Johnson Space Center.

About Nicole

Dr. Nicole Lunning is the carbonaceous asteroid curator and deputy OSIRIS-REx curator within the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) division of NASA Johnson Space Center. Nicole started at NASA in March of 2020 shortly after returning from collecting meteorites in Antarctica as part of 2019-2020 field team of the US-based Antarctic Search for Meteorites program (ANSMET). Prior to working at NASA, Nicole had postdoctoral positions at Rutgers University and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History where she studied meteorites from the asteroid belt and the Moon, as well as conducting melting experiments to understand how early small planet-like bodies formed. Nicole earned her Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2015 — her dissertation was on meteorites thought to have originated from Vesta and meteorites that we think are similar to rocks from asteroids Bennu and Ryugu.

Dr. Nicole Lunning holds a piece of meteorite. She is a white women with brown hair (pulled back) wearing a blue turtleneck under a blue cardigan sweater. A small chunk of grey-colored meteorite rests in her blue-glove-covered hands.
Dr. Nicole Lunning displays a piece of meteorite.

ROADS “Meet an Expert” — Trevor Graff, Perseverance’s project manager for flight hardware (February 11, 2021) 🗓

With just days to go before the Perseverance rover’s scheduled landing on Mars, NESSP was very excited to welcome Trevor Graff from NASA Johnson Space Center for one of our expert chats on Thursday, February 11, 2021. Trevor was project manager for flight hardware on the rover, and took us on an exploration of the rover’s scientific instruments, discussed details on its preparations for launch, and gave us a look at Perseverance’s projected landing on Mars. There was Q&A after the talk.

ROADS “Meet an Expert” — Robert J. Nemiroff of Astronomy Picture of the Day (December 8, 2020) 🗓

As fans of APOD get to see daily, our universe is vast, amazing, and beautiful. For 25 years and counting, NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day has been sharing “a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.”

On December 11, 2020, NESSP was very excited to present an opportunity to chat with one of the professional astronomers behind the extremely popular APOD — Robert J. Nemiroff, one of the co-founders of the Astronomy Picture of the Day. There was time for Q&A after the talk.

ROADS on Asteroids — Demo: Angle of repose

How do we measure the angle of repose? And what does it tell us when a slope is less than the angle of repose? Professor Robert Winglee, director of NESSP, gives us an overview and provides some demonstrations.

ROADS Freestyle “Meet an Expert” #4 — Ben Honey from Houston’s Mission Control (May 15, 2020) 🗓

For our fourth ROADS Freestyle subject matter expert, we had the chance to chat with Houston’s Mission Control!

Ben Honey is an Attitude Determination and Control Officer (ADCO) for the International Space Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Before starting at NASA in 2009, he earned his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona. He also has a master’s degree in systems engineering from the University of Houston – Clear Lake. His duties in the Mission Control Center (MCC) include monitoring the Space Station’s guidance systems during mission operations, training new flight controllers and astronauts, and working on developing new procedures or flight techniques. Ben is also assigned as an integration engineer for the Commercial Crew Program and has been helping verify SpaceX and Boeing readiness to launch NASA astronauts to the ISS on the new Dragon and Starliner spacecraft. Ben has always loved space exploration, but his first love was astronomy and planetary science. He changed focus to engineering after joining the FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) club in high school.

Videos Ben showed

Ben shared several great videos during our chat. If you weren’t able to catch them, they’re all on YouTube.

Everything About Mission Control Houston

Space Station Reboost: The Inside Story

Crew Dragon Animation

ROADS Freestyle “Meet an Expert” #3 — André Galli (April 16, 2020) 🗓

For this “Meet an Expert” chat, André Galli from the University of Bern in Switzerland joined us to delve more into planetary protection! Students had time for Q&A with André after his presentation.

Planetary Protection rules must be taken into account for every space mission to another celestial body. These rules are to prevent the contamination of moons and planets with micro-organisms from Earth. Additional safeguards exist to prevent backward contamination, i.e., bringing organisms back from other celestial bodies to Earth. This talk will present the development of Planetary Protection and how its rules are applied in current space research and exploration. We will also have a look at new initiatives that aim to expand the considerations behind Planetary Protection into a more general framework for sustainability on planet Earth and in space.

André Galli obtained his Ph.D. in space physics at the University of Bern, Switzerland, in 2008. Since then he has spent his time mostly with scientific research at the Netherlands Institute for Space Research and at the University of Bern, and to a lesser extent with physics teaching, long-distance running, and literature. His research interests are centered on the terrestrial planets, the Moon, ice moons and comets, and the solar wind. He is currently involved in NASA’s heliospheric missions IBEX and IMAP and in ESA’s JUICE mission to the icy moons of Jupiter.

ROADS Freestyle Mission Objectives

ROADS Freestyle teams will need the Mission Objectives (MO) document to guide them as they complete the mission. The PDF covers required objectives for the Freestyle challenge and is available in a printable format and a format that’s easier to read digitally.