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Bob Jones’ Team Kratos and UAH to deliver payload to Venus

Team Kratos at Bob Jones is collaborating with University of Alabama in Huntsville and NASA personnel to design a payload that will travel to Venus. (PHOTO/COURTESY OF NASA)
Team Kratos at Bob Jones is collaborating with University of Alabama in Huntsville and NASA personnel to design a payload that will travel to Venus. (PHOTO/COURTESY OF NASA)

MADISON – Team Kratos at Bob Jones High School is devising ways to deliver a payload to Venus.

All 23 seniors in Jessye Gaines’ engineering internship class are engaged in the NASA-sanctioned project. Kratos and two other teams are satisfying the required design project for the Bob Jones Engineering for Tomorrow Academy.

Team Kratos is collaborating with University of Alabama in Huntsville seniors and engineering professors Dr. Matt Turner and Dr. P.J. Benfield. “UAH students are designing an orbiter, balloon and lander that will travel to Venus,” Gaines said.

For high school teams, UAH has allotted a specific volume and mass, which is less than five kilograms, for a scientific payload that “will catch a ride to Venus for the experiment,” Gaines said.

They must protect instruments from the harsh Venusian atmosphere. Students are using a Siemens SolidEdge CAD package to three-dimensionally design their payload.

Team Kratos refers to Venus as “Earth’s Evil Twin,” Gaines said. While the neighboring planets share similar size and mass, Venus has a hostile environment for life.

The students must determine how their experiment can benefit life on Earth, a design prototype and document their decisions using Figures of Merit Decision Analysis. “They must include engineering analysis for physics calculations proving velocities, mass totals, drag force and assumptions,” Gaines said.

In only 20 minutes, Team Kratos will present their findings to a NASA review board at UAH. The board has 10 minutes for questions.

This experience will prepare the teenagers for their senior design project in college. “They will feel empowered and confident to take leadership positions,” Gaines said.

The project epitomizes collaborative learning. “My students constantly email UAH seniors to bargain for more mass and ask to borrow instruments from the orbiter,” Gaines said.

“This isn’t a worksheet that takes 30 minutes to complete; it’s a semester-long project that has multiple reviews and checkpoints,” Gaines said about real-world application. “They see the design process (from when) it’s an idea in their head to physically holding their payload prototype.”

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