MSU rocket launch featured on CBS science program
By Rachel Hergett, MSU News Service
Summary: A joint MSU/NASA sounding rocket mission will be featured on the teen science show “Mission Unstoppable” on Saturday, April 4.
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BOZEMAN — A Montana State University astrophysicist and graduate student will appear Saturday, April 4, on “Mission Unstoppable,” a television series highlighting women in STEM careers.
The opening segment of the episode “Propulsion, Probability and Perseverance” follows Amy Winebarger, a solar astrophysicist based in NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and frequent collaborator of Charles Kankelborg, a professor in the Department of Physics in the College of Letters and Science at MSU.
In the episode, Winebarger leads the show’s correspondent Nabeel Muscatwalla around the facilities at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico as the team of scientists ready a sounding rocket carrying ESIS, an Extreme ultraviolet Snapshot Imaging Spectrograph built by MSU’s Space Science and Engineering Laboratory and the Marshall Space Flight Center. Its predecessor MOSES, or Multi-Order Solar Extreme ultraviolet Spectrograph, was also on board the rocket.
ESIS measures the velocity of plasma in the atmosphere of the sun to help scientists better understand how the star releases energy.
Other equipment, like that carried on existing satellites, would take up to two hours to collect the data ESIS can in 10 seconds, Winebarger explained. The team hopes the instrument will fly again on a sounding rocket, and possibly be used on future satellites.
“This is a huge improvement over existing technologies,” she said in a phone interview Thursday.
In the episode, while Winebarger acts as a host to the camera crew and correspondent, Kankelborg and graduate student Roy Smart are busy in one of the control rooms, preparing for the launch and data collection.
“It was a great partnership,” Winebarger said. “We really enjoy working with Montana State and with Charles.”
Kankelborg said previous missions and instruments built by MSU have garnered some media attention but nothing with quite the exposure of a show on network television. He hopes it highlights the importance of the research side of NASA’s work.
“‘Mission Unstoppable’ does a wonderful job of making the science interesting and showing the drama of a rocket launch that you can just feel palpably,” Kankelborg said. “It’s really awesome to have that kind of conduit to the public and show them what we’re accomplishing.”
The launch segment is featured in Season 1, Episode 16 of “Mission Unstoppable,” a teen science show hosted by Miranda Cosgrove and produced by Litton Entertainment and Lyda Hill Philanthropies’ IF/THEN Initiative. It will air on CBS at 9 a.m. Mountain time on Saturday, April 4. Times may vary based on local affiliates. It will also stream online at https://www.cbs.com/shows/
For more information about the science behind the launch, visit https://www.montana.edu/
This story is available on the Web at: http://www.montana.edu/