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Students Help Crash NASA Satellite Into Ocean

A group of undergraduate students at the Colorado University got to take part in a very awesome class project on Monday. They got to take an malfunctioning NASA satellite out of commission. How? They crashed it, of course.

Students at the Colorado University have been helping NASA control five satellites for the last seven years and this week they got to take one out.

The satellite, known as the Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite, or ICESat, orbited Earth for seven years, gathering valuable data on the polar regions and helping scientists develop a better understanding of ice sheets and sea ice dynamics. The CU-Boulder control team at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics – made up primarily of undergraduates who work side-by-side with LASP professionals – had been controlling the satellite since the mission started in 2003. However, when the scientific payload shut down and couldn't be fixed, the satellite needed to be decommissioned. The students uploaded commands for the satellite to burn its remaining fuel and switched off the transmitter.

LASP Missions Operations and Data Systems Director Bill Possel said the satellite successfully re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on August 30, with most of it burning up. About 200 pounds of the satellite was expected to survive re-entry and the pieces of debris fell into the Barents Sea in the Arctic Ocean.

Though taking out a satellite was probably all kinds of awesome, the students at LASP had to go through a rigorous process to even get accepted for the program. Colorado University says the students have to go through an intensive 10-week summer training program followed by practical and written tests to get certified as satellite controllers. They work 20 hours a week, including nights, holidays and winter and spring breaks.

"Student operators provide a lower cost to NASA, and CU students at LASP receive hands-on training and experience that helps position them for a future in space-related careers," said Possel.

Despite the hard work, the students there seem to love what they do. Katelynn Finn, a junior who has been a LASP satellite mission controller for more than a year said it was amazing to get hands-on experience controlling multimillion-dollar NASA satellites.

"The experience I'm getting at LASP is already preparing me for a career in aerospace once I get out of college," Katelynn added.

Read more about LASP and ICESat's demise on Colorado University's website.

(via Pop Sci)

  • nforce4max
    How am I not surprised since they can deffere staffing costs by using students. Its a shame that many of us don't get hired for jobs that we spend tens of thousands of our own dollars to train for. Better than what the US military did with one of it's satellites that has 22lbs of plutonium that burned up on re-entry. No one talks about the weaponized satellites that are operated by the US and Russia.
    Reply
  • NeeKo
    20 hours a week?? You got to be kidding me.
    Reply
  • pangedit
    They make it sound like their giving up their whole lives working 20 hours a week haha. Thats like 2.5 hours a day lol.
    Reply
  • JMcEntegart
    NeeKo20 hours a week?? You got to be kidding me.pangeditThey make it sound like their giving up their whole lives working 20 hours a week haha. Thats like 2.5 hours a day lol.
    I think it's on top of their full class schedule.
    Reply
  • NeeKo
    JMcEntegartI think it's on top of their full class schedule.It better be! haha
    After they finish school they probably make 30hr/s a week?

    haha j/k
    Reply
  • nightcrawl3r
    That would be a fun project to work on. Luck them! lol
    Reply
  • haunted one
    NeeKo20 hours a week?? You got to be kidding me.
    That's quite a lot for an undergrad student. I only manage to work 8 hrs with my schedule.
    Reply
  • fans 6
    Wait a SECOND!! The BARENTS SEA?!

    That is Russian land or very near to it right? I remember hearing this in Russian articles all the time " Missile test at s-300 at Barents" "admiral Kirov in the Barents today" "kashtan system tested in the Barents".


    Couldn't the Russians have mistaken that for a nuke or something?

    Oh well. What did you do today at college? "I crashed a satellite"


    Reply
  • liquid0h
    haunted oneThat's quite a lot for an undergrad student. I only manage to work 8 hrs with my schedule.haunted oneThat's quite a lot for an undergrad student. I only manage to work 8 hrs with my schedule.8 hrs? Must be nice. Try being in the military and going to school. =P
    Reply
  • f-14
    "Better than what the US military did with one of it's satellites that has 22lbs of plutonium that burned up on re-entry. No one talks about the weaponized satellites that are operated by the US and Russia."

    and this is one of the reasons why i vote to cut nasa funding. stop wasting oxygen these stupid machines can gather some minute data still if you crashed them into the sun instead of trying to kill baby seals :D take that PETA lovers :P (think i'm going to write to PETA and give them a more realistic cause to fight about hahahahaa)

    seriously, when they try to do this stupid wasteful manuever with the international space station, i'm going to protest it with congratulations on nasa helping to destory the earth, the ozone, and blah blah blah kill fish or baby seal, since a butterfly flapping it's wings in china causes hurricane katrina's the INS crashing into the earth causes the ozone to be destroyed blah blah blah... billions spent on these things and they want to waste them, crash the damned things into mars to look for water instead of making a special 30 billion dollar satellite to crash instead , f'n retards at nasa, i swear, they wouldn't have to spend so damn much money if they'd quit wasting it like this.

    as for the air force releasing plutonium into the atmosphere i think all cancer patients should sure the air force now, i think micheal douglas would have a pretty good shot at it with his sudden throat cancer over this summer. long shot, but i don't care, i knew nothing about it, but if more people were aware of the plan before they did it, the damned thing should have been deep sixed in the sun to mix with the radiation already there. this just makes me want to dump my used motor oil next to the water wells for cities since nobody cares. i might just have to tell excel energy to just rocket their used plutonium up into the atmosphere to burn up since it's obviously not a big deal, and the air force can get away with it, so they should be able to also.

    i'm not an enviroMENTAList, but this is about as smart as peeing in your drink before you drink it. presidents were supposed to be the best and the brightest, nasa is supposed to be the brightest and best of the best and brightest, either that was a straight out lie, or grading on a curve has further destroyed the american education system. the damned machines are already malfunctioning and they want to risk killing some one because they think it's safe to crash stuff into the earth and they have no clue as to why the things quit working right.

    NASA EMPLOYEES: " my brake light is on, the engine light is on, i think i'll drive my car to work past the schools and while buses are bringing kids to school today "
    Reply