DIY space exploration
Spacehack is a clearinghouse for space geeks who want to participate in offworld exploration but may not have a science background and probably can’t afford a ticket to orbit. Yet. Space.com interviewed Spacehack founder and former NASA employee Ariel Waldman about the project and her not-so-far-out motivations. From Space.com (photo by Matt Nuzzaco):
Back in 2008, I was watching a great documentary called “When We Left Earth,” and I found it so inspiring that I decided to send a shot in the dark letter to NASA that I wanted to work for them. I had no scientific background whatsoever. But I was able to get a job anyway because the day I emailed them, they had created a job for someone just like me.
What are the best ways for people of different age levels and skill levels to get involved in space research?
With the research end, it’s a lower bar to entry. It’s more about coding and presenting the data right. Anyone can use Galaxy Zoo [a site that lets laypeople look at telescope images to help with the identification of different galaxy types]
With a high school student level, I think the Spirit of Innovation awards are great because they put the students in front of venture capitalists, who can really get things done. There’s a lot of hand-holding, which is also good. For college students, getting involved with Students for the Exploration and Development of Space is best. They are a great organization, and have a great support network.
Most of the projects on Spacehack.org are for adults, but kids can get involved with a pretty good portion of the projects too. I think the majority of grants are focused on children, as they should be, but people forget that if you graduated from college without a degree in science, you are not useless to science. There needs to more of an emphasis on that.