Introducing space to the next generation

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Operating in the space domain requires significant technical expertise and education. Part of ensuring our dominance in the space domain is maintaining a talent pool of technical experts.

One way of maintaining this talent pool is by motivating the next generation to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math degrees and careers. Upcoming scientists, technicians and engineers are our future.

In support of this effort, the Maui Economic Development Board, Air Force Research Lab Det 15 and 20th Space Control Squadron Det 3 hosted the 3rd Annual “Introduce a Girl to Astronomy Day” on May 10, 2018 at the Maui Space Surveillance Complex.

The event was designed to expose and educate approximately 80 Maui middle school students on opportunities in the field of astronomy and space operations. The students participated in a variety of activities to include a hands-on laser experiment, a planetarium experience, and a tour of AFRL Det 15 and 20 SPCS Det 3.

During the 20 SPCS Det 3 tour, the students were able to get up close to a Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance telescope. The 20 SPCS Det 3 team provided an overview of our Space Situational Awareness mission. We demonstrated how we support the protection of the space capabilities they use on a daily basis, such as GPS and satellite TV.

At the same time, these young ladies were able to see and touch the 10,000 pound GEODSS telescope. 20 SPCS Det 3 also provided a telescope demonstration allowing the students to see how the telescope moves throughout the night. Students were able to further satisfy their curiosity through a question and answer session.

Questions ranged from how many objects are in space to what kind of camera does GEODSS use. Many of the students had no idea such an important mission was being conducted just up the hill from them on the island of Maui.

Together with the MEDB and AFRL Det 15, we were able to inform these young ladies of STEM opportunities in astronomy and space operations and its importance to the defense of our nation. We hope we inspired a number of them to consider or pursue a STEM career in the future. If one student was moved or inspired to pursue a career in the astronomy, space operations, or any STEM career field, our efforts were a success.