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Living and Working in Space: Energy

Spacecraft Power Systems!
The second of two web seminars on the topic of Living and Working in Space: Energy was held on Thursday, February 1, 2007, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The presenter was Steven Johnson, International Space Station Flight Controller at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The focus of this presentation was spacecraft power systems.

There are three spacecraft power systems: solar, nuclear, and energy storage. Twenty-nine (29) participants were present at the live Web Seminar in addition to the presenter and the NSTA staff. Participating educators represented the states of Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, and Washington.

In this seminar, Steven Johnson talked about three spacecraft power systems: nuclear, solar, and energy storage. He discussed the advantages and disadvantages of each power system and shared examples of space missions using them. All participants received a copy of NSTA's SciGuide about the Solar System, grades 5-8.

Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:

  • "I gained a deeper appreciation of the international space station and more especially the people working at the mission control center.”
  • “The information is relevant in that it provides me with supplemental info to make teaching the topic of space exploration more interesting to my students.”
  • “Although I teach at the High School, the 4th graders at our school are studying the International Space Station, I'm excited to visit with their class and share the information that I learned tonight.”
  • “Students frequently ask questions about the choice of energy source. Now I can respond other than saying "We can find out together.”

Thanks to the participants and the presenter for the learning opportunity, the interactions, and a job well done!


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