BC project selected for NASA mission to accompany 2018 launch

Sara Varela


A research project proposed by Broward College science faculty was selected for a mission aboard Blue Origins New Sheperd SRLV (suborbital reusable launch vehicle.) The project titled “Measurement of the Atmospheric Background in the Mesosphere as a Pre-cursor to Astronomical Observations” will launch in the first half of 2018, which marks the 20th anniversary of the first BC project to launch in space.

The research project will study the abundance of hydroxide in the mesosphere, the middle layer of the earth’s atmosphere. Hydroxide absorbs heavily in the mesosphere and its effects on the planet and the atmosphere are not yet fully understood. The project will be in space for 15 minutes during an hour-long mission.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been responsible, since its creation in 1958, for the achievements in human space flight and the advancement of space science breakthroughs.

“For the past twenty years, Broward College has had a strong relationship with the space community, working in tandem to understand the cosmos while inspiring the next generation of astronomy enthusiasts,” said BC President J. David Armstrong, Jr.

The project is led by Rolando Branly, a BC physics professor.

“My students and I are excited to continue our collaboration with NASA through Blue Origins,” said Branly. “Broward College is one of only two higher education institutions in the Florida Space Grant Consortium with full membership, and we plan to submit many more projects to learn what we can about ‘the final frontier'”

The first BC space project was launched in 1998. Since then, the College has participated in 19 launch missions with projects studying a wide range of subjects involving microgravity, atmospheric makeup, and more.

Two projects have gone into space, in 1998 and 2000, five have been on zero-gravity flight missions, and two were included on the last two NASA space missions on shuttle Discovery.