Tarleton Aeronautical Team to appear on Discovery Channel’s ‘Daily Planet’

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The Tarleton State University Aeronautical Team recently competed in the NASA-sponsored Student Launch Centennial Challenge, held April 11, at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Hunstville, Ala. Tarleton's team of undergraduate and graduate students placed 2nd and received a $15,000 prize for being one of only two teams successfully completing the NASA mission.

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STEPHENVILLE (April 27, 2015) — The Tarleton Aeronautical Team, runners-up in the recent NASA-sponsored Student Launch Centennial Challenge, will be included during a segment on a nationally televised broadcast of Discovery Channel Canada’s Daily Planet, scheduled to air Monday, April 27.

Viewers in the U.S. can watch the Daily Planet segment online atwww.discovery.ca/shows/daily-planet following its broadcast at 7 a.m. ET, April 27.

Daily Planet, Discovery Channel Canada’s flagship science magazine with hosts Ziya Tong and Dan Riskin, explores the latest science behind the headlines and scientific developments that impact our lives in every way. Producers from the show traveled to the Marshall Space Flight Center near Hunstville, Ala. to film a segment on this year’s NASA Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) Centennial Challenge where they interviewed freshman mechanical engineering student Grant Gregory, propulsion engineer for the Tarleton Aeronautical Team.

The Tarleton Aeronautical Team earned 2nd place in the design-build-launch competition, held April 11, and was presented with a $15,000 prize for successful completion of the mission that highlighted NASA’s MAV, the rocket affiliated with a proposed Mars Sample Return lander mission.

“The Tarleton Aeronautical Team has competed in four international and national NASA research competitions in the past four years and has never placed lower than 6th ,” said associate professor of mathematics Dr. Bowen Brawner, the team’s lead university advisor. “They have beaten Georgia Tech, Penn State, MIT, Cal Tech, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Embry Riddle, the U.S. Naval Academy … the list goes on for days. Not to mention the top universities in England, Italy, India, Turkey, Mexico, and so on.”

This year’s NASA Student Launch requirements were more stringent in its 15th anniversary competition as the Tarleton Aeronautical Team successfully used a robotic system to autonomously and sequentially accomplish the retrieval of a sample; insert the payload into their single-stage solid-propelled rocket in horizontal position; then erected the rocket and launched to an altitude of 3,000 feet; deployed a sample container with the cache internally sealed during descent; and landed the container in an effort to mimic a MAV mission.

“These Tarleton students are not just smart, they are dedicated. It takes both to succeed at this level,” said Brawner. “I am amazed every year at what Tarleton State’s students are able to achieve. The students that have graduated have gone on to work at places such as NASA and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, or to pursue doctorate degrees in computer science, mathematics and physics.”

The applied learning experience offered through the Tarleton Aeronautical Team’s participation in NASA’s competitions is as real as it gets, said Brawner. “NASA’s requirements are tough. This year’s team is made up of math, engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering technology and ag majors. Each one brings unique skills to the project and this diversity is our strength. Most of our competitors are from aeronautics engineering schools, but I am amazed every year at what Tarleton’s students are able to achieve.”

About Tarleton Aeronautical Team:
The Tarleton Aeronautical Team was founded in the fall of 2011 for the purpose of competing in the NASA CANSAT International Competition. Since then, the team has participated in a NASA-based competition every year. NASA SL Projects is a university-based competition where students spend roughly eight months designing and building a high-power rocket that will carry a scientific or engineering payload to a specified altitude. Along with engineering a rocket, the students also have to design a website, create a budget, write design reviews and perform educational engagement.

To learn more about the Tarleton Aeronautics Team, visit www.tsuaeronautics.org. For more information about NASA’s Student Launch, see www.nasa.gov.education/studentlaunch.

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