The morning sky that began the

Astronomy experiments for high school

Schools / November 6, 2018

Iolani Moon Rider rsJoin Rob Kelso, Executive Director at the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) as he introduces the Moon RIDERS Hawai‘i robotics teams’ work on the electrodynamic dust shield (EDS) lunar project and the partnership with PISCES, NASA, and Google Lunar Xprize. ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s next Maunakea Skies program entitled “Moon RIDERS: 2016 Hawai‘i High Schools’ Experiment on the Surface of the Moon, ” is Friday, April 17, 2015 at 7 p.m.

Over the past 2-years PISCES and the NASA-Kennedy Space Center (KSC) have been working together in partnership for a lunar surface flight experiment leveraging transportation through the Google Lunar X-Prize (GLXP). This joint flight test project for a lunar surface flight experiment is called: Moon RIDERS (Research Investigating Dust Expulsion Removal Systems.)

Recently, the two Hawai‘i high schools selected for participation in this joint project were publically announced as Kealakehe High School in Kona and ‘Iolani School from Honolulu.

“While the Google Lunar X-PRIZE is designed to inspire pioneers to do robotic space transport on a budget, the Moon RIDERS project seeks to inspire this generation of Hawai‘i high school students in a first-ever student–participation involving a lunar surface experiment project with emphasis on STEM.” Notes Kelso.

In a similar fashion, this project allows for critical flight testing and validation of spacecraft systems technology on the surface of the moon, something NASA is unable to do on its own, up to this point.

NASA-KSC has been actively working to advance dust-removal technologies which could be critical in future spacecraft systems operating on planetary surfaces, referred to as the Electrodynamic Dust Shield. PISCES, given its legislative direction in advancing planetary surface systems, saw this collaboration as an opportunity to uniquely involve Hawai‘i high school students in a joint engineering project with NASA-KSC, flying as a hosted-payload on an upcoming GLXP mission to the Moon’s surface in late 2016.

Rob Kelso has served as the Executive Director at PISCES since November of 2012. Kelso is a career civil servant, serving 37 years at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, formerly holding a position as the NASA Shuttle Flight Director at NASA’s famed Mission Control Center. He also served as NASA’s Mission Director, responsible for the launch and delivery of the Chandra X-Ray telescope, the last of the great NASA observatories sent into space by NASA.

Kelso has been the recipient of the NASA Outstanding Leaderships Medal, and NASA Exceptional Service Medal. He holds a Bachelors Degree in physics and a Masters in Business Administration.

program will be hosted by Cam Wipper, ‘Imiloa planetarium staff. He will provide observational highlights of the current night sky over Hawai‘i, pointing out prominent constellations and stars one can see during this time of year.

The monthly Maunakea Skies planetarium presentations are held on the third Friday of each month. Cost is $8 for Individual, Dual, Kupuna and Family Members; $6 for Patron Members; Free for Silver, Gold, and Corporate Members. Non-member rate is $10. Pre-purchase tickets at the ‘Imiloa front desk or by phone at 969-9703.

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i is located at 600 ‘Imiloa Place in Hilo, off Komohana and Nowelo Streets at the UH Hilo Science and Technology Park. For more information, go to or call (808) 969-9703.

The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems is a Hawai‘i State Government Aerospace Agency located in Hilo. The Center is part of the State Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) and conducts environmentally safe field demonstrations on Hawai‘i’s volcanic terrain to test and validate advanced space technologies under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).

PISCES’ projects also include robotics, advanced manufacturing, and advanced communications, all of which involve dual-use technologies: they have applications both in space and here at home. They can potentially advance planetary surface systems technology, as well as stimulate the growth of Hawai‘i’s economy, create jobs locally, educate keiki astronauts-to-be, and improve our State’s sustainability.