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NASA and Make magazine are joining forces to help build and launch DIY science projects into outerspace, which, if I may say so, elevates citizen science to a whole new level of awesome. The two have just announced a new initiative, the NASA Make Challenge: Experimental Science Kits for Space.

In a blog post on Make, Dale Dougherty recounts a conversation with NASA's Lynn Harper who said that the space agency needs "not hundreds of experiments going into space but hundreds of thousands of experiments."

NASA apparently has recognized that by tapping into the maker and educational communities, it can do precisely that.

In conjunction with the Teachers in Space program, the NASA Make Challenge will develop inexpensive science kits that can be built in a classroom and then sent on suborbital flights in order to conduct experiments.

The kits should use components that are readily available at most high schools, and the experiments need to be self-contained and fit in a standard Cubesat container (an international standard for small space payloads). You also need to be able to build these kits for under $100, as NASA says, "the kind of funds that could be raised by a school bake sale."

You can sign up for a mailing list via Make's website. The winner will be announced at the Bay Area Maker Faire this spring. And the first mission with the DIY science kits should launch some time this year.

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Audrey Watters


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