NASA’s TechRise Student Challenge: 6-12th grade

Announcing NASA’s TechRise Student Challenge

NASA is initiating a new competition for the 2021/2022 school year, asking student teams to design, build, and launch experiments on suborbital rockets and balloon flights. 

The NASA TechRise Student Challenge will start accepting entries August 18, 2021. Teams of sixth to 12th-grade students from U.S. public, private, or charter schools can submit ideas for climate or remote-sensing experiments to fly on a high-altitude balloon, and space exploration experiments to fly aboard a suborbital rocket. Competition winners will receive $1,500 to build their payloads and an assigned spot on a NASA-sponsored commercial suborbital flight.

Resources for Educators

NASA and Future Engineers, the challenge administrator, will offer a series of virtual events for educators to hear from NASA experts and learn more about this exciting opportunity for students.

·        NASA TechRise educator summer workshops will dive into the basics of electronics, coding, and designing for flight. The first workshop will be Wednesday, July 28, and repeated Wednesday, Aug. 11.

·        The challenge kick-off event was held as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s 8th annual ED Games Expo. Both an excerpt of this session and the full recording are available for viewing. 

To learn more, visit the NASA TechRise Student Challenge website.

Expoplanet Watch- A New Citizen Science Project

Dear Astronomers,

We are writing to invite you and your students to participate in Exoplanet Watch, a new exoplanet citizen science project funded by NASA’s Universe of Learning and led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Exoplanet Watch relies on university astronomy students and amateur astronomers using ground-based telescopes to make observations of transiting exoplanets. This will help keep mid-transit times fresh. With more accurate timing, large observatories and space-based telescopes can make efficient use of valuable telescope time.

The Exoplanet Watch website lists nightly observation targets, but any exoplanet transit observations will work. 

Light curves generated by Exoplanet Watch are shared with the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO). Observers and data analysts are given credit for their work in any scientific papers resulting from their contributions.

For more information about Exoplanet Watch, visit our website at

Tiny URL:

Join our Slack Workspace to meet our team and ask questions.

If you are interested in participating in Exoplanet Watch, please email to let us know.  Feel free to share this email with other astronomers who may be interested in participating as well. 

We look forward to studying exoplanets with you!


‘NASA STEM Stars’ — Soar Into STEM With Aerospace Engineer Dr. Andrew LindAudience: Students Ages 13+Event Date: April 7 at 2 p.m. EDT
“NASA STEM Stars” is a webchat series that connects students with subject matter experts to learn about STEM careers and ask questions about STEM topics. Join “NASA STEM Stars” for the first in a series of webinars focusing on Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) research. Dr. Andrew Lind, a research aerospace engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, will share how an early love of construction toys and flight simulators led him to get his pilot’s license and pursue a STEM career studying many aspects of aerodynamics and flying machines. From studying how propellers affect fuel efficiency in college to learning about his current role performing acoustic flight tests to make AAM vehicles quieter, we’ll soar through Dr. Lind’s career path and get advice for students interested in pursuing a career in aerospace. Watch the live event and ask questions about pursuing careers in STEM.

Moon to Mars Exploration

Moon to Mars eXploration Systems and Habitation (M2M
        X-Hab) 2021 Academic Innovation Challenge Logo
Proposals Due Date: April 23, 2021

The Moon to Mars eXploration Systems and Habitation (M2M X-Hab) 2022 Academic Innovation Challenge is a university-level challenge designed to develop strategic partnerships and collaborations with universities. It has been organized to help bridge strategic knowledge gaps and increase knowledge in capabilities and technology risk reduction related to NASA’s vision and missions. The competition is intended to link with senior- and graduate-level design curricula that emphasize hands-on design, research, development, and manufacturing of functional prototypical subsystems that enable functionality for space habitats and deep space exploration missions. NASA will directly benefit from the challenge by sponsoring the development of innovative concepts and technologies from universities, which will result in novel ideas and solutions that could be applied to exploration.

The Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Division will offer multiple awards of $15k – $50k each to design and produce studies or functional products of interest to the AES Division (see Section 3.2, M2M X-Hab Proposal Topic List) as proposed by university teams according to their interests and expertise. The prototypes produced by the university teams (examples of which are shown in Figure 1) may be integrated into existing NASA-built operational prototypes. Universities interested in participating will submit M2M X-Hab proposals, which will be reviewed by technical experts; subsequent down-selection will determine which projects will be funded. M2M X-Hab university teams will be required to complete their products for evaluation by the AES Division in May 2022. Universities may form collaborations to perform as a single distributed project team.

Students in the Critical Path
The M2M X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge has a unique approach to student involvement, in that the student team is placed in the NASA mission critical path for the product or technology that they develop alongside NASA researchers. Teams are required to go through a series of NASA-standard assessments as other NASA engineering products, including a System Definition Review (SDR), a Preliminary Design Review (PDR), and a Critical Design Review (CDR). With this approach, NASA is putting a great deal of responsibility on the students. This in turn gives the students a bigger stake in the development of space technologies that likely will form the basis for future systems and technologies that will be flown in space.


Proposals will be accepted from faculty who are U.S. citizens and currently teach an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)-accredited engineering senior or graduate design, industrial design, or architecture curriculum teaming course at a university affiliated with the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, or other US accredited university. Multidisciplinary, multi-departmental, and/or multi-institutional teaming collaborations are highly encouraged.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges, and other minority-serving educational institutions are particularly encouraged to apply. Proposals from women, members of underrepresented minorities groups, and persons with disabilities are highly encouraged.

STEM Video Contest-Win $1000

The Department of Defense is funding a video contest on hypersonics. First prize is $1,000! All you need to do is to create a 2-minute video on the potential of hypersonic flight (high school category) or the big challenges posed by hypersonic flight (undergraduate category). If you are interested, please click here for more details:

Entries are due by March 21, 2021.

California Space Grant Consortium Alumna Selected for Artemis Missions

One of our very own California Space Grant Consortium alumna, Jessica Watkins, was recently selected to be part of NASA’s initial 18-member team of astronauts  – nine men and nine women – for the upcoming Artemis missions to the moon.  She was chosen by Vice President Mike Pence to begin training for the return to the moon and explore living on the lunar surface by 2024.

Jessica Watkins was born in Maryland, raised in Colorado and went on to earn her undergraduate degree at Stanford University in Geological and Environmental Sciences. She then pursued her graduate degree in Geology at the University of California, Los Angeles and was a California Space Grant Consortium (CaSGC) fellow in 2010. Her graduate research focused on Mars soil simulant and she had several internships with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL).

“Years ago when Jessica Watkins applied to UCLA for graduate school we were thrilled as she already had shown what a great student she was in her undergraduate institution that to this day has her picture on their walls”, recalls Christopher Russell, Distinguished Professor at the Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences, and Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at the University of California, Los Angeles. “We were happy to make her a UCLA Space Grant scholar. And we are proud of her achievements at UCLA which served as a stepping stone to her entering the Astronaut corps and being selected for the lunar program. Her former classmates know that she has further ambitions. She also has her eyes on Mars. We wish her well in all her aspirations and are extremely proud of her and her achievements.” 

The Artemis program is a collaborative effort between NASA and international partners to establish a long term presence on the moon. This lunar base could potentially act as a launching point for further space exploration by mankind. There is also the goal to have the first woman land on the moon. 

The California Space Grant Consortium supports the exploration of space research spanning from pre-college engagement to workforce training. We are excited for Jessica Watkin’s role in this endeavor and proud to have been a small part of her past research experience.

2021 NASA STEM Enhancement in Earth & Space Science Internship

 Current High School Sophomores and Juniors
Application Deadline: February 22, 2021
NASATexas Space Grant Consortium, and The University of Texas at Austin Center for Space Research Summer Intern Program is a nationally competitive STEM program for high school students. The program provides selected students with exposure to Earth and space research. Interns will learn how to interpret NASA satellite data while working with scientists and engineers in their chosen area of work.
Scientists and Engineers at UT/CSR are conducting NASA supported research on astronomy, remote sensing, and space geodetic techniques to help understand Earth systems, natural hazards and climate science. This summer TSGC and UT/CSR will support a summer intern program where interns will complete distance learning modules prior to July 1, work remotely July 1-15, 2021 with project mentors prior to the on-site internship July 17 – July 31, 2021. In addition, those selected will present their research virtually in the SEES Science Symposium August 2-4. Housing, meals, and local transportation will be provided for those selected. A limited number of travel scholarships to Texas are available. The summer intern program will allow interns to view and investigate NASA remote sensing data, mission design, analysis of ice sheets, Earth’s gravity field, and other observations while being mentored by project scientists.
We are offering summer internships to motivated high school students who have an interest in pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics careers. The interns will work beside NASA subject matter experts analyzing and visualizing data. This content knowledge, coupled with hands-on experiences, allows the intern to gain experience in authentic NASA research through field investigation and data analysis.
Interns are selected on the basis of their academic records, written application that includes answers to essay questions, introduction video, letter of recommendation, transcript and interest in STEM. The deadline for submitting your application for the summer 2021 internship program is February 22, 2021. For more information please contact:


We are proud to announce the launch of the Zed Factor Fellowship (ZFF), a space internship and community outreach program.

Founded by a group of space professionals from diverse backgrounds, the Zed Factor Fellowship empowers and engages learners and aspiring aerospace professionals from underrepresented backgrounds through hands-on, practical experiences working in and contributing to the leading companies of the aerospace community.

We hope you will alert all students about this innovative, community-centered aerospace internship program. Please note, not all applicants need to have a technical background – there will be some positions available for non-engineers who have a passion for the aerospace industry.  Another differentiating factor to the ZFF is that all fellows will create and conduct their own community service project, amplifying the impact of each fellowship far beyond one individual.  

Applications are currently being accepted for placement with leading aerospace companies for internships beginning in late spring/early summer 2021. More information can be found at our website, and questions can be directed to  The deadline for applications is January 4th, 2021.

We look forward to receiving applications from your institution’s aspiring aerospace professionals who may not currently see role models that represent them in the aerospace industry.  Together we will create an aerospace industry and technical cadre of professionals comprising of people of all backgrounds, creating a more inclusive, well-rounded and ultimately more impactful and effective nation and world.

NASA Space Life Sciences Internship Applications Open

Apply now

The primary goal of the Space Life Sciences Training Program (SLSTP) is to train the next generation of scientists and engineers, enabling NASA to meet future research and development challenges in the space life sciences. The SLSTP provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to perform cutting-edge research and discover exciting careers in Space Biology at NASA’s Ames Research Center located in Silicon Valley, California. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 internship was held virtually, and the 2021 program will be held remotely as well. Interns are paired with a mentor for individual research projects in areas such as molecular, cell, organismal or synthetic biology, bioinformatics or bioengineering.  In addition, the cohort of interns designs and executes a group project.

The SLSTP is an equal opportunity program. Admission is by competitive application process. Past student participants were selected for their outstanding merit, passion for space, and desire to study space life science. Applicants must fulfill the following requirements:

  • be a US citizen*
  • be in high academic standing (GPA of 3.2 or greater)
  • have a minimum age of 18
  • be a junior or senior undergraduate student next Fall
    — or —
    a senior graduating in 2020 and entering graduate school next Fall.
  • have a passion for space and a desire to study space life science

*Citizens of US territories Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Northern Marianas are U.S. citizens. Permanent Resident foreign nationals, Legal Resident Aliens, Work Permit holders, and Illegal Immigrants are not eligible.

The SLSTP Intern Program application deadline is January 5, 2021.  The 10-week program begins on June 7, 2021 and ends August 13, 2021. Interns accepted into the program receive a stipend. Financial support is also provided to interns who submit an accepted abstract as first author to the annual meeting of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research. 

StellarXplorers:National High School Space Challenge

StellarXplorers is a challenging, space system design competition involving all aspects of system development and operation with a spacecraft and payload focus.

Teams can come from any organized youth organization such as a high school (including home schools), JROTC, CAP, School Clubs, Boy/Girl Scouts, Boys & Girls Clubs. Teams consist of an adult Team Director (usually a teacher) and two to six students. We need to emphasize is YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE A SPACE EXPERT to have a team. You only need to find students interested in learning about space. Participation is free until after teams have had the opportunity to compete for the first qualifying round. There is a nominal $200 registration fee for each team, with waivers available to Title I schools upon request.

How does it work?

StellarXplorers provides specific training in the use of system simulation software, Systems Tool Kit (STK) as well as an online textbook as a curriculum supplement and study resource for online “team” Quizzes given during the competition. The actual competition is accomplished from the team’s home location. Teams are given a scenario describing the system’s mission and constraints and they provide a solution to a typical space design problem, such as orbit determination, satellite component selection, and launch vehicle planning. Practice Rounds begin in October with Qualification Rounds beginning in November that determine which teams advance to the Semi-Finals in February. The top 10 teams from the Semi-Finals will receive an all-expense-paid trip the National Finals.

How do you get started?

Go to the StellarXplorers Website at Register your team under the Registration Tab. You will not need to identify cadets until after the school year begins. Under the Competition Tab, click on STLX VI Starting Checklist. This gives a step-by-step for getting ready to field a team. Also, we are here to help, so do not hesitate to ask for assistance.

Benefits for Students

This is an exciting hands-on learning experience that develops commercially valuable skills and increases appreciation for the critical role of space in our daily lives. The competition attracts all types of students with diverse backgrounds who will establish their own experiential base off accomplishment, all while building teamwork and leadership skills. Most of all … it is FUN!!!

Benefits for Educators

Relevant and stimulating addition to your classroom with hands-on, real-world STEM applications that are widely embedded into your students’ lives.

Benefits for Sponsors

Offers the chance to “grow your own” future workforce! You’ll have access to a pipeline of talented individuals, interested your business, most U.S. citizens eligible for advanced clearances and uniquely positioned to be your interns and future employees. At the same time, you’ll boost US competitiveness and STEM education, while enhancing your visibility with customers and peers.

Questions? Contact us at