RI Space Grant Highlights

Providence Waterfire featuring a sculpture of the moonApollo 50th Celebration: Space Grant partnered with WaterFire Providence to present a month-long celebration of the first human footsteps on another world. Our objective was to demonstrate how NASA reaches into nearly every institution of higher learning in the state. We began with the opening of an art installation by Luke Jeram called “Museum of the Moon” that featured a giant (23-foot diameter) balloon with high-resolution images of the Moon from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Wide Angle Camera. After a VIP reception on July 8, we opened with an original musical score about the lunar landing, a presentation about the new way to explore the Moon and Mars using “Open Space,” a space-art exhibition, and nearly a dozen telescopes from local astronomy clubs trained on the Moon (just when the sun rose over Tranquility Base). Over the next three weeks, the giant Moon provided a backdrop for 11 “Space Chats” about lunar and planetary exploration. In addition, we contributed to exhibits at three different venues: the Museum of Natural History (MNH), the Northeast Planetary Data Center (Brown), and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). These exhibits attracted close to 40,000 visitors. On July 20th, fires lit up the Providence River in an event called WaterFire with about 100,000 attendees. Highlights included performances by the Providence Ballet, music about the Moon, two astronaut presentations, and giant screens showing flyovers of the Moon and Mars. Fourteen Space Grant Affiliates and Partners engaged the public with demonstrations and informal discussions about their involvement with NASA.

RISGC is committed to diversifying the STEM workforce. We encourage underrepresented participants (averaging over 12%) and women (over 40%).

Rover art piece.NASA Rover Challenge (RISD): Every year, RISD students compete in NASA’s Human Exploration Rover Challenge competition at the NASA-Marshall Space Flight Center. In April 2019, we supported 10 students (from freshman to graduate students) who designed and built a rover specifically for this challenge as part of a RISD Club (Michael Lye, advisor). This year they competed against more than 100 universities (mostly engineering departments) and finished in Second Place (only a few points from first) and Won the Featherweight Award. Their 2018 Rover is currently on display at the Museum of Natural History (Providence), while their 2019 Rover was featured in the Apollo 50th celebration in the RISD Illustrations Building Gallery and at WaterFire Providence on July 20th, the day of the landing 50 years ago.