A practical astronautical laboratory at an Australian secondary school
Mann, G. (2005) A practical astronautical laboratory at an Australian secondary school. In: 5th National Space Society of Australia (NSSA) Australian Space Science Conference (ASSC) 2005, 14-16 September, 2005, Melbourne, Australia
The Centre for Planetary and Space Sciences (CPSS) is a small but active research body based on common interests between Trinity College, a large Catholic secondary school in Perth and the Mars Society Australia. Since 2004 the CPSS has been conducting scientific seminars on space related topics, developing a science enrichment course in astronautics for Year 10 students at Trinity and its associate schools and the constructing a laboratory/workshop to house the Starchaser Rover, the Mars Society's analogue pressurised rover vehicle, now under construction in Perth. Though still seeking funding for some of its more ambitious plans, the CPSS is making significant progress toward these goals. It has built on an already strong space-science orientation at Trinity, which has been actively teaching practical astronomy since 2001 using its automated Ritchey-Chretien Cassegrain 31.5 cm telescope. Trinity College has agreed to construct an additional 12 x 10 meter laboratory within which to conduct a practical astronautics course using the Starchaser rover. The most ambitious plan involves the design of a low-cost spacecraft simulator, designed to motivate students to study scenario-based science, technology and mathematics content in order to prepare for a simulated descent and ascent to the surface of a planet. This is conceivable only because of the availability of open-source simulator software which generates strikingly realistic images of space flight for a relatively low cost. The laboratory and simulator will also serve as a base for the WA chapter of the Mars Society, which has its own scientific program of analogue research.
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