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NASA to Students: Help Crash our Satellite, Please?

University of Colorado at Boulder undergraduates piloted a multi-million dollar NASA satellite to its fiery oceanic death. NASA’s response: Thanks guys.

After seven years of collecting ice related space data, NASA’s appropriately named ICESat (Ice Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite) satellite was decommissioned in one of the most fun ways possible. NASA allowed the undergrads working in the university’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics destroy the satellite by burning it up in the atmosphere and crashing it into the sea.

It wasn’t all fiery, destructive fun, though, as PopSci explains:

Decommissioning the satellite was a process that required the undergrads to spend seven days a week calculating positions, plotting re-entry scenarios, and ensuring that whatever debris did survive re-entry landed somewhere where it wouldn’t do any damage.

When I was in college, the wackiest thing I ever got to do was go on a pirate-themed scavenger hunt following a map my teacher made. Where was NASA then, huh!?

(Discover Magazine via PopSci via University of Colorado at Boulder)

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