DODDS educators study deep space telescope
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Two scientists involved in deep space research are on Okinawa training Department of Defense Dependents Schools teachers how to use a 10-million pound radio telescope located in California from Pacific-based middle schools.
Michael Klein, from NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and David Jauncey, from the Australian Telescope National Facility, are conducting two four-day training sessions at the DODDS-Pacific director’s office on Torii Station.
“This is a tremendous program,” said Kim Day, Department of Defense Education Activity liaison for math and science. “We are getting ready to implement new science standards and science curriculum in the schools. This is a great way to do real science in the classroom.”
Some Pacific students already have tried their hands at using the $20 million Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope in Apple Valley, Calif., an instrument once used by NASA for deep space exploration. Students at Kubasaki High School on Okinawa used the Internet last October to control the telescope and scan Uranus for determining the planet’s deep atmosphere seasonal changes.
Four other DODDS schools also took part in the program last fall: Sembach Middle School and Hohenfels High School in Germany, Zama High School in Japan and Taegu American School in South Korea.
Day said all base schools overseas and in the United States will eventually participate in the program. The radio telescope has been dedicated for high school science education through the Lewis Center, she said.
“The real winners are the school kids,” said Jauncey. “They get to run the antenna, collect and share data and make a contribution to research. It’s also quite thrilling to watch the teachers really getting into this.”
Klein said students using the radio telescope already have made discoveries. One of the most interesting was published in Nature magazine, he said.
“When the Cassini Spacecraft did a fly-by of Jupiter on its way to Saturn, the students monitored the radiation belt environment of Jupiter,” Klein said.
The Feb. 28, 2002, issue of Nature said the observations were obtained from November 2000 to March 2001 and “the GAVRT project also provided an opportunity for students to work with Cassini scientists, conducting ground-based observations and data analysis.”
The results provided “a new constraint for models of Jupiter’s radiation belts,” the article stated.
Jauncey, the Australian scientist, said the students are not limited to this solar system.
“They’re also looking at a bunch of quasars, halfway to the edge of the universe,” he said. “It will give us an unprecedented look into the black holes in the middle of the quasars.”