East Hawaii News

Moon RIDERS Complete Initial Testing, Visit State Capitol

March 24, 2015, 12:43 PM HST
* Updated March 24, 2:25 PM
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The first round of testing in the Moon Research Investigating Dust Expulsion Removal Systems lunar flight experiment was completed last week by participating Kealakehe and ‘Iolani High School students.

During the week of March 16 through March 21, the two student groups each spent two days on the slopes of Mauna Kea testing mock lunar landers equipped with NASA-built dust shield systems. The tests consisted of a variety of configurations in order to determine effectiveness in differing conditions.

“This whole week has been a very important part of developing and testing flight hardware for going to the surface of the Moon that we hope to do at the end of 2016,” said PISCES Executive Director Rob Kelso. “This is the first opportunity we’ve had to come test it in the field.”

Students from Kealakehe High School (Top) and `Iolani School (Bottom) pose with mentors and their mock-up lunar landers along with PISCES staff at a planetary analogue test site on Mauna Kea. PISCES photo.

Students from Kealakehe High School (Top) and `Iolani School (Bottom) pose with mentors and their mock-up lunar landers along with PISCES staff at a planetary analogue test site on Mauna Kea. PISCES photo.

The experiment was not merely observational for the students, as independent development and management of the tests allowed them to accumulate hands-on engineering experience. Data collected from the experiment will prove to be valuable in the future as the experiment continues to prepare its configuration for flight.

According to Kelso, the project trials are a “tremendous educational experience for the students.” As Executive Director, Kelso planned and executed the procedures with PISCES staff to ensure that safety was maintained and infrastructure was provided.

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Now that the tests have been completed, the Moon RIDERS will spend time sifting through their data and writing reports to share the information with NASA and participating Google Lunar XPRIZE teams later in the Spring.

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A second round of testing will be conducted in the Fall after design changes are conducted based on the results of the initial testing period.

In addition to completing their first round of testing, the Moon RIDERS team was honored at the Hawai’i State Capitol in Honolulu on Monday.

Proclamations were issued during a legislative session, which officially recognized the two teams. Students also presented their work on the project to lawmakers and staff, discussing the previous week of testing and how the experiment works.

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