Day 225: Lofty Ambitions

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August 12, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra

Well, it’s happened again; I wonder how long it’ll last this time.  We’re interested in space again.  Thanks to the absolutely incredible landing of NASA’s Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars, I’m hearing more and more chatter from every direction about our future in space. ‘Bout time…

Our interest in space seems to wax and wane.  I wish this time we’d simply continue to look up and be fascinated, listening to the stars beckon us and strive to answer their call.  Unfortunately, they’re far away and their call fades easily into the background of the noise of everyday things down here on Earth.  There’s a lot to distract us, but taking the time to nurture curiosity about space is important if we’re serious about becoming extra-terrestrial someday.  Today’s project is breeding kids’ curiosity about space through a hands-on opportunity to touch it’s beautiful edges.

PongSats are micro-satellites built by kindergartners, college professors and everyone in between.  No larger than a ping pong ball, they can be remarkably elaborate, sensor-laden devices to gather important data from a unique environment, or they can be as simple and fascinating as a marshmallow – first plumped, then shrunken – returned to the hands of a child who can brag about sending part of their lunch to space.  It’s an opportunity to get people thinking about space by letting them see it and, in a way, feel it for themselves.

All the projects fit inside ping pong balls. We call them PongSats. Students from all over the world send us their PongSats we fly them to 100,000 feet on weather balloons. After the landing the PongSats are returned to their creators along with data from the flight a DVD with video of the launch and on board scenes and a certificate showing they flew.

The program is free for participants, so it’s coming to you and I through Kickstarter for support.  Let’s put some kids in space, and keep them dreaming of what’s beyond the blue sky.  Back this launch before August 16.


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