Archive for August, 2009

4Frontiers Team Members to Lead Simulated Mars Mission on Devon Island

TAMPA, FL – 4Frontiers Corporation, a NewSpace technology, entertainment & education company, is pleased to announce that it is spearheading this summer’s expedition to the Mars Society’s Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) on Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic. 4Frontiers consultant Walter Vernon Kramer has been selected as commander of a crew of six, the 12th crew to inhabit the station. He will be assisted by 4Frontiers Vice President Joseph Palaia, who will serve as his executive officer. The crew will conduct a sustained program of field exploration during the month of July, while operating under Mars mission constraints. The objective is to improve understanding of the technical and human factors which may be faced by the first human Mars explorers.

Extensive research investigations are planned for the expedition, including the TAGGS (Tandem Aerial and Ground Geological Survey) mission an ambitious program intended to provide improved understanding of how future human Mars explorers will search for resources via aerial, ground, and subsurface geophysical surveys. Kramer will leverage his extensive background in mineral exploration and extraction to plan and conduct field EVAs in search of resources useful for industry. This effort will be greatly enabled by use of the Maveric UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), to be operated by Palaia. The system is being provided through an expedition sponsorship by Prioria Robotics of Gainesville, FL.

“The Maveric will provide us with an eye in the sky, allowing us to quickly and easily survey a large amount of terrain from which we will pinpoint specific areas to deploy field geologists,” said Joseph Palaia. “I believe the TAGGS mission will prove just how critical this capability will be, making this standard equipment on any human Mars mission.”

Additional 4Frontiers team members will also play a role in the FMARS expedition. 4Frontiers has engaged three summer interns through a grant provided by the NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate administered by the Florida Space Grant Consortium. One of the interns, Jason Rhian is a recent graduate of the University of South Florida. He will serve as media coordinator for the expedition, being responsible for scheduling press interviews, developing media releases and keeping the public up to date on the latest expedition news and developments.

Spencer Frank and Eric Travis, both students at the University of Central Florida, have also been engaged as summer interns. They will work closely with 4Frontiers partner, the Omega Envoy team that is pursing the Google Lunar X-Prize. They have been working diligently for the past several weeks to assemble and test Omega Envoy’s lunar rover prototype, which Palaia will transport with him to Devon Island. Frank and Travis will lead a group of students at the University of Central Florida to control the rover remotely. Besides demonstrating key aspects of the Omega Envoy design, the rover will aid the expedition’s investigation of the use of unmanned vehicles systems to enable and enhance the capabilities of human explorers during lunar and Mars missions.

The public will be able to follow the mission via a website ( as well as through the social media outlets Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Regular updates from the field, including EVA reports, pictures and videos will allow others to participate in the mission as events unfold at the remote outpost.

“I am excited by the work before us,” Palaia said. “Expeditions like this allow us to appreciate the challenges that await the first human pioneers on Mars, while fueling our passion and engaging the human spirit.”

More information about the 2009 FMARS expedition is available at

More information about the Prioria Maveric UAV is available at

GE Foundation award generous grant

The Florida Space Grant Consortium is delighted to extend our deepest appreciation to the GE Foundation for the $100,000.00 grant they have bestowed on us. We here at FSGC just received confirmation this week that our efforts to secure the education grant from the GE Foundation have succeeded. Not only does the size of the grant showcase the GE Foundation’s commitment to scientific education, the fact that it is actually a continuation of the supportive relationship between the GE Foundation and FSGC indicates their long term investment in Florida’s education system.

The awarded $100,000.00 will be used to establish the Florida Space Grant Consortium’s CPET & DSC Teacher workshops program. The program is designed to train teachers from limited resource school districts to be more knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and dynamic science teachers. It has long been one of FSGC’s main desires to supply the schools districts in economically disadvantaged areas with the scientific training and resources that are clearly needed. This most generous donation from the GE Foundation will go a long way towards making this dream a reality.

The CPET & DSC Teacher workshops will include 159 secondary Florida science teachers from around the state. There will be GE Foundation workshops for 70 teachers at the Kennedy Space Center. Those selected will receive training at NASA’s Educator’s Resource Center inside the Astronaut Memorial Foundation’s Center for Space Education.

The CPET Teacher Training Program is a more refined and focused way of impacting the scientific education standards of specific school districts. A total of 25 teachers from 5 school districts will participate. Five teachers will be selected from each of the following counties: Alachua, Broward, Collier, Marion, and Palm Beach County. After the teachers receive their training they will continue their communication amongst one another to collectively formulate strategies for how to best use the training and implement the curriculum they have learned. The Florida Space Grant Consortium will create the interface upon which this interactive community of motivated science teachers will be built. When this is combined with continued funds and resources from the GE Foundation for the teachers it becomes apparent how exciting this program is.

There will be 4 DSC workshops, Digital Solutions for the Classroom, all in different locations across the state. Each workshop will have 16 teachers who will be trained to create projects for their classrooms using digital technology. To add a bit of interest to the workshops, two of them are scheduled to take place at Tampa Lowry Park Zoo and Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

Once again the Florida Space Grant Consortium would like to re-assert our deepest appreciation to the GE Foundation for this grant and all of the positive developments that will come out of it. We look forward to continuing our working relationship with the GE Foundation into the future.

Jaydeep Mukherjee
Florida Space Grant Consortium
Center for Space Education
Building M6-306, Room 7010
Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899
(321) 452-4301

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