NASA Team on TV

Newschannel 9 videographer Mark Folsom captures OCC NASA team members Nathan Johnson (left) and Neil Minet (right) creating a substance which resembles the surface of a comet.

OCC’s NASA Team has received some well-deserved recognition in the Central New York media. WSYR-TV Newschannel 9 reporter Jeff Kulikowsky and photographer Mark Folsom came to campus April 26. They shot video and conducted interviews with the students. The story aired in that night’s 6 p.m. newscast. You can view it here.

Next month the six students who make up OCC’s NASA Team will travel to NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. They’ll bring with them a device they’ve created which astronauts will use in an underwater experiment.

Planning began last semester when OCC was selected to be one of more than two dozen teams which would submit designs for tools or devices which astronauts would use during explorations. Most of the schools selected were prestigious four-year college and universities with large budgets. Only three community colleges were selected.

OCC’s team named itself the “Lazernauts.” They began working on an anchoring device that would hold packages on the surface of a comet, asteroid or small moon. The Lazernauts used a 3-D printer to create an auger made out of Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene, or ABS plastic. It’s the type of material used to make Lego’s. Each design was thoroughly tested and analyzed. Throughout the process the team stayed in touch with a NASA Astronaut who served as their team mentor. The astronaut gave advice and made sure they were staying on schedule.

The Lazernauts also created a hard substance for the auger to drill into which would simulate the surface of a comet or small planet. The process included the mixing of dry ice with hot water, creating the type of fog show you might see at a concert.

When they travel to Houston the Lazernauts will watch an astronaut dive into a 40-foot-deep pool and attempt to use their auger in wet sand. The astronaut will wear a GoPro camera. The OCC students will be in a control room, communicating with the astronaut.

OCC’s Lazernauts are:

  • Natalia Montilla, team co-leader               Nottingham High School
  • Brian Richardson, team co-leader             Liverpool High School
  • Nathan Johnson                                            Homeschooled
  • Allan O’Mara                                                  Homeschooled
  • Neil Minet                                                       Marcellus High School
  • Doug Weaver                                                  Chittenango High School

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