Open to both undergraduate and graduate students studying fields with applications to human space exploration, NASA’s RASC-AL Competition is an engineering design challenge that allows students to incorporate their coursework into real aerospace design concepts and work together in a team environment. With nearly two decades of history, the RASC-AL Competition is one of NASA’s longest running and most robust student competitions.

Call For Proposals
The 2021 RASC-AL themes range from preparing for the next steps of our return to the Moon, to innovating solutions for returning from Mars, to designing architectures to visit Venus and Ceres. Teams are invited to design and propose innovative solutions with original supporting engineering and analysis in response to one of the following five themes:
Durable Low-Mass Lunar Surface HabitatMinimum Mars Ascent VehicleVenus Flyby MissionHuman Mission to CeresDistributed Lunar Sample Aggregation, Analysis, & Return to ISS

If you have any questions, please contact the RASC-AL Program Team: rascal@nianet.org

NASA’s 2021 Big Idea Challenge Call for Proposals

NASA is seeking robust proposals from universities affiliated with their state’s Space Grant Consortium (or partnered with an affiliated school) to design, build, and test novel dust mitigation (or dust tolerant) technologies for lunar applications. This is an open innovation challenge with minimal constraints so that proposing teams can genuinely create and develop out-of-the-box solutions. Selected teams will receive awards ranging between $50,000 and $180,000 to bring their ideas to life!
Call for Proposals: Dust Mitigation Technologies for Lunar Applications
For the 2021 BIG Idea Challenge, NASA solicits team proposals from Space Grant affiliated universities and colleges for a wide range of unique lunar dust mitigation (or dust tolerant) solutions supported by solid engineering rigor in response to one of the following categories:Landing Dust Prevention and MitigationSpacesuit Dust Tolerance and MitigationExterior Dust Prevention, Tolerance, and MitigationCabin Dust Tolerance and Mitigation
Up to 10 teams will be selected to build their proposed technology for dust mitigation, and will be responsible for setting up and executing their own high-fidelity verification testing, based on what was described in the proposal. Teams are encouraged to be creative and design their own accurate and realistically simulated testing scenarios.
A wide range of award sizes is expected (in the range of $50,000 – $180,000), depending on the scope of the work proposed. It is anticipated that several larger-scope awards (typically $125,000 – $180,000) and several smaller-scope awards (typically $50,000 – $124,000) will receive funding. Proposers are encouraged to request what is actually needed to conduct the proposed work.
Interested and eligible teams of students and their faculty advisors should submit an online Notice of Intent by September 25, 2020. Written and video proposals are due on December 13, 2020. Minority Serving Institutions are encouraged to apply.
Finalist teams will receive funding to build and test their technologies, and will be invited to present their verification testing results to NASA and industry judges at the 2021 BIG Idea Forum, tentatively scheduled for November 17 – 19, 2021.
The 2021 BIG Idea Challenge Call for Proposals Flyer contains more information about this year’s challenge and is ideal for posting in classrooms and departmental bulletin boards. 
For full competition details, including eligibility requirements, design constraints, and submission guidelines, please visit the BIG Idea Website: http://BIGIdea.nianet.org.

Former CaSGC Sponsored Student Accepts Position at NASA

Felipe Valdez was a student sponsored by the California Space Grant Consortium while he studied and did research with Prof. Jose Granda of California State University Sacramento. He graduated from the Mechanical Engineering Department at CSUS and then continued his graduate studies at UC Davis. After graduating with a Masters Degree in Aerospace Engineering Felipe has accepted a permanent position at NASA Armstrong Center.

To view a news story about this exceptional student please click here


The International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, American Astronautical Society, and NASA invite you to discover the future of the ISS. Join us on August 27, 2020 for day one of the ISS Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) 2020 Online Series.

Day one session topics will include:

  • Welcome with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
  • NASA Biological and Physical Sciences Program Update
  • Panel Session on Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Commercialization
  • State of the ISS National Lab
  • ISS Program Office Updates
  • Building the LEO Economy

Save the dates on your calendar for the ISSRDC 2020 Online Series, and let’s start celebrating 20 years of living and working in space.


Day One, August 27: Outlook | Apple Calendar


Day Two, September 17: Outlook | Apple Calendar


Day Three, October 22: Outlook | Apple Calendar
All sessions are free! Registration coming in early August.

NASA Science Town Hall – July 9 at Noon PST

You are cordially invited to a virtual town hall meeting hosted by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate on Thursday, July 9 at 3 p.m. ET. Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen and other members of the Science leadership team will discuss updates on the agency’s science activities and welcome questions from the community. 

As you may be aware, the Space Biology and Physical Sciences programs within the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate’s Space Life and Physical Sciences Research and Applications (SLPSRA) Division are in the process of transitioning to the Science Mission Directorate where they will constitute the Biological and Physical Sciences (BPS) Division. The Human Research Program will remain in HEOMD.

All are welcome to attend the town hall, but it will be of most interest to members of the Space Biology and Physical Sciences community. I hope that you can join us. Details may be found below.

To join the town hall:

Members of the science community, academia, the media, and the public are invited to participate by joining at:


To ask a question:


Participants must provide their first and last name and organization and can submit questions or vote up questions submitted by others. The hosts will try to answer as many of the questions as possible.


NASA Office of STEM education was recently awarded a 2-year project to UCSD, USC, and UC-Berkeley to develop an autonomous lunar landing vehicle and to develop a nation-wide Lunar/Martian Lander Skills competition using these landing vehicles.  This is an Artemis-relevant systems engineering and integration skills project that will require the students to develop critical thinking and hands-on skill sets that NASA needs for their upcoming (beginning 2024) Artemis missions to the moon.  UCSD students will work (remotely) with USC students and UC-Berkeley students to develop the vehicles, develop the autonomous control system, and design and develop the national competition.  The first flight competition is planned for fall of 2020.  

Are you interested in space engineering, flight hardware, autonomous controls, sensors, and/or software (python, C) programming?  Are you interested in flying the vehicle, developing the competition, writing software for autonomous flight competitions, and hosting the competition in San Diego?  Meeting and working with NASA Artemis experts from the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate?  Are you an Aerospace, Mechanical, Structural, ECE, or CSE undergraduate and available full time this summer?  Funding is available for up to three UCSD students.  Note:  You must be a US citizen to receive funding.  

If you are interested, send an email to (jkosmatka@ucsd.edu) by 5 PM Monday (June 1st, 2020) with your resume that includes relevant courses, experiences, demonstrated leadership, and other needed skill sets.  For example arduinos, raspberry pi, RC vehicles, cubesats, programming competitions, or club activities (AIAA DBF, AUVSI, SEDS), etc.  This is a three-campus team-project so you must be able to work remotely. 

Be a Part of NASA’s Space X Demo-2 Launch

No matter where you are you can join in the excitement of this historic event. Celebrate the first launch of American Astronauts to the ISS since 2011.

What’s involved: First, play the Rocket Science: Ride to Station App, then complete the Crew Orbital Docking (CODing) Simulation and create your own space capsule docking game. Build a docking mission capable of stumping your friends, and share it with us on Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter using #LaunchAmerica. Then tune in for the Virtual NASA Social broadcast on May 20, 2020 to see if your game is selected as a winner!

How to Participate

Part One: You will start your mission by completing the Ride to Station app. Using this app, you  will go through the process of selecting your crew, building a rocket and launching to the International Space Station. Can you work your way through obstacles and get your crew to the International Space Station? 

Part Two: Next, head over to CODing Sim. Here you will use programming language to create your game. Not an expert coder? Don’t worry, this simulation is for all levels of programmers. Use the accompanying CODing Sim Guide for tips and tricks on setting up your simulation. To get started you will need to create a Snap! or Scratch account and download the necessary files for your simulation (you can find these on the CODing Sim page). Next follow the onscreen instructions to create your game. You will know that your mission is a success or failure by the sounds and on-screen visual cues.

Step Three: Share a screenshot of your CODing Sim on social media using the hashtag, #LaunchAmerica!

Summer 2020 Internship Opportunities at NASA Goddard

Research at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) emphasizes a broad study of global change, which is an interdisciplinary initiative addressing natural and man-made changes in our environment that occur on various time scales — from one-time forcings such as volcanic explosions, to seasonal and annual effects such as El Niño, and on up to the millennia of ice ages — and that affect the habitability of our planet.

The current summer internship projects being offered for high school, undergraduate and graduate students this summer include:

GISS is located at Columbia University in New York City. The institute is a laboratory in the Earth Sciences Division of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and is affiliated with the Columbia Institute and School of Engineering and Applied Science.

  • Atmospheric Rivers in a Changing Climate
  • Characterizing the Urban Land Surface Temperature
  • Earth Observation Applications for Resiliency
  • Climate Change in the Hudson Estuary
  • Analysis of Climate Model Simulations
  • Data Management and Dissemination for the NASA Research Scanning Polarimeter
  • Hardware and connectivity upgrades for the NASA Research Scanning Polarimeter
  • Live Monitor for the NASA Research Scanning Polarimeter
  • Smartphone monitoring application for the NASA Research Scanning Polarimeter
  • Water Mass formation rates and pathways in the World Ocean
  • New method to estimate cloud droplet number concentration using remote sensing 
  • Construction of a flexible cloud mask from spaceborne lidar atmospheric profiles 

The application period for the summer closes on March 8th. Students are encouraged to apply early at:  https://intern.nasa.gov .

Cubes in Space 2020

A free STEAM project-based learning program for formal and informal educators and their students, 11-18 years of age is being offered this year. Cubes in Space provides students the opportunity to design and compete to launch small experiments into space. Selected experiments will be launched via sounding rocket from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia in late June 2020 and from a high-altitude scientific balloon from NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in New Mexico in late August 2020. 

Cubes in Space was designed with the learner AND educator in mind.  Our program is an authentic, project and inquiry-based learning experience with a real opportunity to conduct scientific research and fly an experiment in space on a NASA mission in 2020.  Cubes in Space provides a way for students to engage in deep learning and critical thinking.  For more information please visit  www.cubesinspace.com

NASA Student Airborne Research Program (SARP) 2020

The NASA Airborne Science Program invites highly motivated advanced undergraduates who will be rising seniors in summer 2020 to apply for participation in the 12th annual NASA Student Airborne Research Program (SARP 2020).  Students will work in multi-disciplinary teams to study surface, atmospheric, and oceanographic processes. Participants will fly onboard a NASA research aircraft and assist in the operation of instruments to sample and measure atmospheric gases and aerosols and to image land and water surfaces in multiple spectral bands. Along with airborne data collection, students will participate in taking measurements at field sites. Each student will complete an individual research project from the data collected.

Outstanding faculty and staff for this program will be drawn from several universities and NASA centers, as well as from NASA flight operations and engineering personnel.

The eight-week program begins June 14, 2020 and concludes August 7, 2020.

Instrument and flight preparations, and the research flights themselves, will take place during the first two weeks of the program at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, in Palmdale, CA. Post-flight data/laboratory analysis and interpretation will take place during the final six weeks of the program at the University of California, Irvine.

SARP participants will receive a $5,000 stipend, a travel allowance, and free housing and local transportation during the 8-week program.

Applicants must be US citizens.

For more information and to apply:

Program Video: