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OSU Space Cowboys join NASA Desert Rats
Wed, September 14, 2011
OSU Space Cowboys join NASA Desert RATS
(Notes from Dr. Jamey Jacob, Space Cowboys adviser and aerospace engineering professor)
While many students enjoyed cooler weather in Oklahoma last weekend, OSU’s Space Cowboys were working in the desert heat of Arizona, assisting NASA in the development and testing of new space habitat concepts for manned space flight.
As part of NASA’s 2011 Academic Innovation Challenge, the students were one of three university teams nationwide that were chosen by the space agency to develop concepts for the space habitat. The tests they were performing with the NASA Desert RATS (Research and Technology Studies) are the culmination of their year-long effort.
This particular mission was focused on exploration of a near Earth asteroid. The students interacted with NASA staff from all NASA centers as well as multiple universities. They were also able to visit surrounding attractions such as the Meteor Crater and Lowell Observatory, where Mars was first observed in detail.
The Arizona desert has been used for analog field tests since the time of the Apollo missions and allows engineers to evaluate hardware under conditions similar to but much less harsh than the moon and Mars. One of the NASA Desert RATS was Chuck Beckman, a Chandler, Okla. resident who was serving as a medic.