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*** JUNE 2006 ***

NASA is taking teachers to a barren desert in Chile to help inspire the next generation of explorers. The expedition is part of the Spaceward Bound pilot program, which challenges teachers to design and implement real field research...
Spaceward Bound is designed to immerse teachers in NASA exploration research through field research. In addition to building their own knowledge, teachers will also work to develop classroom content and new instruction methods, passing the knowledge and inspiration on to their students.
Leading the expedition is planetary expert Chris McKay from NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. "The Explorer Schools teachers will be side-by-side with the scientists conducting experiments to increase our understanding of life in extreme environments," McKay said.
A unique aspect of this Atacama field study is the unprecedented level of access students, teachers, and the public will have to the expedition.
"We have provided multiple avenues to join the research team in the Atacama Desert," said Liza Coe, co-principal investigator of the expedition "By visiting the NASA Quest Web site, you can get to know the team by reading their bios and watching their training sessions, or by viewing 360 degree panoramas and interacting with them via Web casts."

NASA and US Forest Service researchers are evaluating advanced unmanned aerial systems (UAS) technologies to expand wildfire imaging and mapping capabilities.
Researchers from NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., will join Forest Service experts at a technology demonstration today at the Fort Hunter Liggett Garrison near King City, Calif. The demonstration objective is to exhibit platform and thermal imaging technologies, platform communications, data handling, autonomous operations and operations within a hazardous environment.
"The ability to more easily, rapidly and accurately monitor wildfire conditions is why first responders are so interested in these new technologies," said Vince Ambrosia, senior scientist and principal investigator of the project at Ames. Ambrosia and other team members will evaluate selected UAS capabilities for suitability of aircraft operations and wildfire imaging and mapping.
NASA is interested in evaluating platform capabilities and sensor systems and showcasing NASA-developed technologies that are of benefit to other federal and state agencies. The Forest Service is interested in evaluating UAS capabilities in an operational environment, collecting fire-related thermal imagery during a major event to help improve real-time information during a wildfire event. Four small unmanned aerial vehicles will be present: AeroVironment PUMA, IntelliTech Microsystems' Vector P, The Insitu Group's Scan Eagle, and NASA Ames UAV Collaborative's APV-3

NASA officials announced today that NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., will support exploration in several key areas, including software, mission operations and thermal protection for the development of NASA's new spaceship.
NASA Ames will be the lead for development of thermal protection systems and information technology for NASA's exploration effort. This responsibility includes developing the heat shield and aeroshell for the new spaceship called the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV). Responsibilities for information technology and computing include a focus on collaborative environments for exploration, as well as the development of cost-effective software that will play a role in operations for exploration.
"I am delighted that Ames is managing development of the CEV's heat shield and aeroshell for the new spacecraft and will lead the effort to develop the essential information technology for the exploration effort that will take us back to the moon," said NASA Ames Director Simon "Pete" Worden. "Our history of innovation and our prime
location in Silicon Valley will enhance our ability to deliver the cutting-edge technology NASA needs to implement the Vision for Space Exploration," Worden added.
In addition to its lead role in thermal protection systems and information technology, NASA Ames will support exploration and the Lunar Precursor and Robotic Program. NASA Ames will establish a new lunar projects office to develop small robotic spacecraft for exploration. The center also will continue to lead the development of
the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite.