A Challenger Learning Center mission is more than a field trip or a computer game. Our mission simulations put students into learning environments based on the practices NASA uses to prepare astronauts. It’s as real as it gets without needing a spacesuit.
While students become astronauts and engineers at Challenger Learning Centers they are solving real-world problems as they share the thrill of discovery on missions through the Solar System.
HOW A CHALLENGER LEARNING CENTER MISSION SIMULATION WORKS:
- Prior to the visit, educators receive curriculum to help students understand the theme and topic of their mission and to work on communication, teamwork and problem solving skills.
- After arriving at the Learning Center, students are partnered up and assigned to one of eight teams: Communications, Data, Isolation, Life Support, Medical, Navigation, Probe, and Remote.
- One student on each team is assigned to Mission Control, while the other team member is transported to the space station (at mission midpoint, the partners exchange places so every student can experience both learning environments).
- During the mission, students must accomplish specific tasks in order for the mission to be a success. Astronauts on board the space station build space probes, monitor life support functions, conduct experiments on items taken from the surfaces of Mars or the Moon, and plot navigation courses for the spacecraft. Engineers at Mission Control support these endeavors by answering the astronauts’ questions and providing necessary research.
- Following the mission at the Learning Center, educators have the option of using specific programs designed to help extend the Learning Center mission once they return to the classroom.
Students become engineers, scientists and mission control specialists working together as a crew to Rendezvous with a Comet, Voyage to Mars or Return to the Moon. In the simulators, students test their decision-making skills, solve problems and communicate by alternative means during this innovative space-themed science and math hands-on experience.
- Length: Half-Day – 2.5 hours
- Class Size: Maximum 34 Students
- Price: $600 Per Class*
In the not-to-distant future a team of scientists and engineers are serving as astronauts and mission controllers on a daring exploration of comets. Their goal is to successfully plot a course to rendezvous with a comet and launch a probe to collect scientific data . What may seem to be a routine exploration is sprinkled with lots of surprises and emergencies that will give students first-hand insight into teamwork and problem-solving. This mission is flown from late February – June.
New! Beginning Summer 2017 - The year is 2076 and this crew is tasked with searching for water and life on the Martian surface. Carrying parts to build a ROV for hydrological exploration, the Mars Transport Vehicle (MTV) also carries unmanned drone aircraft to assist in surveying the Martian landscape. However, when crew members discover a threat to their MTV base, they must act quickly to save their crew and their station. This mission is flown from September – December.
The year is 2015 A.D. and for the first time since 1972, a crew of astronauts are returning to the Moon. This time, they plan to stay. Their mission is to establish a permanent base on the Moon to observe and explore as well as test the feasibility of off-Earth settlements. Navigating their way into lunar orbit, students must construct and launch a probe, analyze a variety of data gathered from the lunar surface to select a site establishing the permanent Moon Base. This mission is flown from January – February.
Fast forward to a future solar max – a time when the greatest solar activity in the 11 year solar cycle of the sun takes place. A major coronal mass ejection (CME) occurred just four weeks ago, with a burst of solar winds blasting from the sun toward Earth. The threat caused an immediate evacuation of the Space Station to ensure the safety of our astronauts in low Earth orbit. Fortunately, the Space Station was unharmed, but some satellites were not as lucky. The strength of the CME was so strong that several vital satellites, responsible for collecting Earth science information, suffered critical damage.
Without these satellites we can no longer identify and study the changes that are occurring on our planet. While heading back into orbit during this turbulent time of solar activity is a risk, there is no choice. The destruction caused by the CME must be addressed immediately.
It will take a true team effort of scientists from the Mission Control crew and astronauts in the Space Station to fix this serious problem. The two groups will have to quickly address the damage and achieve two major goals: Use their location in space and the instruments on the Space Station to observe the Earth and its changes and utilize the small manufacturing facility on the Space Station to create a new micro satellite to replace the one lost in the CME.
*This mission requires additional training and documents specific to the Earth mission storyline.
Click below for a detailed description: