George County Middle School Directs NASA Satellite

Students at George County Middle school are taking advantage of crisp, clear nights for a little extra education... with some star gazing. The students are watching and listening to the stars with a 16 million dollar radio telescope from NASA.

The school is one of just 50 around the nation taking part in a study of Jupiter and the Cassini space probe. On tonight's assignment education report... Ken Flanagan showed us how the Internet is connecting these students with one of NASA's biggest telescopes. Students race to write down all the raw data coming in from a huge radio telescope located in California's Mojave desert. Although these students are more than two thousand miles away they are controlling and watching the telescope through the Internet. "They actually really get to do something. They take a mouse and control a 850 thousand pound elephant. So they actually get to do real science," Jay at student at George County Middle School said. "I think that's scary. People get on the computer and move something worth 16 million dollars," said Brock, another student.

With a little help from researchers in California, these 7th and 8th graders are learning how to move the radio telescope and how to measure the temperature of Jupiter. The temperatures these students take, will be compared to the temperatures taken by the "Cassini" space probe as it passes by Jupiter. NASA will then take the two sets of information and more finely tune the probe's instruments. The school has about twelve more hours of telescope time left. That's just enough time for every students at the school to get a turn at seeing our giant cosmic neighbor.

Two grants made it possible for George County Middle school to bring this program to the students. If you would like to learn more about the program or the Cassini space probe and its trip to Saturn log on to the Lewis Center For Educational Research.