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Boise State Team Tests Astronaut Tool at NASA

By: Kathleen Tuck   Published 3:24 pm / May 3, 2016

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A team of Boise State students recently returned from NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, following the successful test of a tool designed to help astronauts collect samples from an asteroid.

They were accompanied by team mentor Steve Swanson, a former NASA astronaut and current distinguished educator in residence at Boise State, Christine Change Gillespie, project manager with the Institute for STEM and Diversity Initiatives, and Gus Engstrom, lecturer in the Department of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering.

This year’s students improved upon a design created by last year’s team. The tool, dubbed the “Zero Operable Interplanetary Delivery Based Ergonomics Grabber,” or ZOIDBERG, is designed to collect three separate rock samples from the surface of an asteroid while avoiding cross contamination.

Team lead Christopher Ruby, along with Marina Autina, Zachary Chastaine, Evan Smith, Melissa Roberts and Jason Kuwada, represented the full team at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, a 6.2 million-gallon pool meant to mimic the weightlessness of space.

  • Photo of the Boise State Microgravity team.

  • Photo of the Boise State Microgravity team.

  • Photo of the Boise State Microgravity team.

  • Photo of the Boise State Microgravity team.

  • Photo of the Boise State Microgravity team.

  • Photo of the Boise State Microgravity team.

  • Photo of the Boise State Microgravity team.

  • Photo of the Boise State Microgravity team.

  • Photo of the Boise State Microgravity team.

  • Photo of the Boise State Microgravity team.

  • Photo of the Boise State Microgravity team.

  • Photo of the Boise State Microgravity team.