South Dakota Space Grant Consortium

Winter 1998 Reaching Out

Winter 1998, Volume VI - No. 1

A Publication of the South Dakota Space Grant Consortium
501 E. St. Joseph Street
Rapid City, SD 57701-3995
(605) 394-1975, FAX (605) 394-5360
Worldwide Web: http:/

Fourth Annual South Dakota Space Day NASA Astronaut Sam Gemar to Speak

Col. (Ret.) Charles "Sam" Gemar, NASA Astronaut and South Dakota native son will return to Pierre for the fourth annual South Dakota Space Day on April 24, 1998. Hailed as the state’s premier event to promote aviation, aerospace, science, mathematics and technology education, teachers and students from throughout South Dakota and surrounding states have been invited to participate. Exhibits, presentations, and hands-on experiences include using the Internet, physical and chemical phenomena, university students’ balloon research projects, living and working in space, space food, aviation, remote sensing, geology, mapping and a variety of educational resources for teachers. All exhibits will be in the SD Discovery Center & Aquarium, 805 W. Sioux Ave., Pierre. The keynote address is scheduled for 1:00 in the Riggs High School Auditorium, Pierre. Teachers planning to bring students to Space Day should make arrangements for transporting students between the high school and Discovery Center. Pre-registration is requested in order to schedule students for the various events and to avoid overcrowding. Call the Discovery Center, 605-224-8295 to pre-register. Every school in South Dakota received advance information in January for Space Day. Sponsored by the South Dakota Space Grant Consortium, the day-long event is held in a different part of the state each year in order to reach as many students and teachers as possible. The first Space Day was held in Pierre in 1995. It was in Rapid City in 1996 and in Sioux Falls last year. Members of the Consortium are SD School of Mines & Technology, SD State University, Augustana College, EROS Data Center and NASA. Educational affiliates are the SD Discovery Center & Aquarium, Pierre and Scientific Knowledge for Indian Learning & Leadership (SKILL) at SDSM&T; industrial affiliates are Raven Industries, Inc. and Hughes STX of Sioux Falls and Horizons, Inc. of Rapid City. The 1998 Space Day is co-hosted by the SDSGC and SD Discovery Center.

1997 SD Space Day Draws 7000 - Former Astronaut Mike Mullane Speaker

South Dakota Space Day 1997 hosted by Augustana College and EROS Data Center in Sioux Falls, attracted 7000 students and teachers K-12 to exhibits and to hear NASA Astronaut Mike Mullane talk about his experiences aboard the Space Shuttle and view some of his slides. The theme, "Chase Your Dreams," encouraged students to pursue their goals. Mullane’s message was that you "don’t have to be an athlete, don’t have to receive the highest grades, date the homecoming queen, or be popular to fulfill your dreams." He emphasized that "you need your body to make dreams come true. Stay away from anything that will harm your body." In addition to Mullane’s inspirational program, there were 50 hands-on exhibits. This was the largest attendance at Space Day since it began in 1995. Space Day ‘97 was sponsored by the SD Space Grant Consortium and SD StarBase with support from Home Federal Savings Bank of Sioux Falls, United Airlines, and Augustana College.

Balloon Project Lifts Off to New Horizons By Doug MacTaggart, SDSM&T Research Scientist

This past year has witnessed a major retooling of the South Dakota Research Balloon Project. Its emphasis has been changed from a single annual large payload launch to a number of launches of free lift and tethered systems with smaller payloads. Two forces have driven this change. One is our desire to enhance the research aspect of the project, and the other is our desire to use this project to enrich our Outreach Program. On the research side, we are interested in using balloons as platforms to gather information on the atmosphere that is applicable to environmental research issues. Initial efforts have been aimed at collecting weather and climate data. Later, we plan to incorporate capabilities for measuring gases and particles. Weather and climate measurements are being made using tethered balloon systems as well as the more familiar free launch weather balloon packages. Collaboration with Dr. Stephen Schiller at SDSU has greatly enhanced our efforts in the use of tethered balloons. Our overall balloon project work has benefited immensely from cooperation with the National Weather Service station in Rapid City. In the coming year, balloon launches will be made in conjunction with the UpperMissouri River Basin (UMRB) Pilot Project, a regional research program also involving the University of North Dakota. UMRB is funded at SDSM&T through NASA's Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE) program, which has been recently renamed NASA Earth Science. In the future, we plan to use balloon platforms in research programs for studying natural emissions of sulfur, nitrogen and carbon gases. The goal of this work will be to characterize these gas emissions at different sites under a range of ambient conditions, and to study how the emissions lead to the formation of particles in the atmosphere, which affect both climate and air quality. We are currently drawing up plans to use these balloon systems to enrich our outreach and public service efforts. In conjunction with this, we are initiating a network of ground weather stations at K-12 schools in the West River area, which we hope to expand across the state in the future. We plan to bring data from both the balloon and ground stations to the SDSM&T campus, and then make it available to students, teachers, researchers and interested members of the public via the Internet. Phil Huebner of the SDSM&T SKILL program has agreed to serve as the educational coordinator for this project. It has been a very interesting and exciting year for the balloon project team. We hope that the coming year fulfills the promises of the past one.

Swets Becomes SD Space Grant Administrator at Augustana

Dr. Dan Swets was appointed to the position of administrator for the SD Space Grant Consortium office at Augustana College effective July, 1997. He has made significant progress in algorithm development on behalf of the EROS Data Center (EDC) in the robust smoothing of NDVI data. Dan’s research was jointly supported under the NASA Space Grant Fellowship Program and Augustana College. During his fellowship, he was able to develop contacts and algorithm needs at the EDC for further collaboration. Due in part to the connections made at EDC, Dr. Swets has been able to secure NSF funding for a parallel processing laboratory to be developed at Augustana College over the next three years. The research applications of this laboratory will be image processing algorithms to benefit the on-going requirements of the EDC. He replaces Dr. Larry Tieszen, former SDSGC administrator for Augustana College who joined the science and applications branch of EROS Data Center.

Director’s Message - Sherry O. Farwell

The past year contained numerous events of direct importance to the South Dakota Space Grant Consortium, and the present year promises to bring additional ones of equal consequence and opportunity. Last April the Consortium sponsored and organized a highly successful South Dakota Space Day in Sioux Falls that was attended by over 7,000 regional students and teachers. Governor William Janklow has designated April 24, 1998 as the next Space Day and the Consortium is busy planning for this exciting, fourth annual South Dakota Space Day, which will be held in Pierre. During May, I had a formal occasion to present an oral summary of our Consortium’s activities and plans to Daniel Goldin (head of NASA), Frank Owens (director of NASA’s Education Division), and other NASA administrators during their visit to the SDSM&T campus. In my presentation I announced that Rapid City had been selected as the site for the Fall-97 meeting of the National Space Grant Directors. Thus, the South Dakota SGC had the honor of organizing and hosting this National SGDs Meeting, which was held in the Alex Johnson Hotel and Conference Center on October 7-10. The meeting was attended by representatives from almost all the 52 Space Grant Consortium members, with strong representation both from NASA Headquarters and NASA Centers. Based on the number of compliments received from the meeting’s participants, I am very pleased to report that the Director’s meeting in Rapid City was an all-around success! Thanks to a coordinated effort that successfully conveyed the message about the importance of the National Space Grant and Fellowship Program to the US Congressional Appropriation Committees, this NASA Program received a funding increase of $6.3 million to a total of $19.6 million for FY-98. Consequently, our Consortium, as a "Capacity Enhancement State", was allowed to prepare a budget request for the next grant period (3/1/98-2/28/99) that contains a 25% increase over the FY-97 "base" funding. Our justification for this budgetary augmentation is based on the goal of a more centrally-managed Space Grant Program involving coordinated research, education, and outreach projects with South Dakota Tribal Colleges, K-12 institutions, Universities, and technology-based businesses. In addition, our objective is to increase the number of Consortium Members and Affiliates. To initiate this latter process, the Consortium has recently extended invitations to Ogalala Lakota College, SKILL (Scientific Knowledge for Indian Learning & Leadership), Operation SMART (Science, Math, and Relevant Technology), and SLIC (Science Linkages in the Community). Please let Linda Allen or me know if you have additional suggestions for members or affiliates. On a related note, the Consortium has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nebraska Space Grant Consortium to develop and enhance our Consortia’s educational efforts, with an emphasis on service to Native American populations in both states. The ability to attain the stated Consortium goals is important both to our mission and our future funding. In December 1998 the Consortium must submit a self-evaluation package to NASA as part of the ten-year National Space Grant Evaluation process. These evaluations will be scored by NASA according to established "Best Practices" criteria and future funding for each SG Consortium will be determined by their score. Therefore, the SDSG Consortium will need to format our activities during the next ten months so that we can score well in the critical content areas. On March 9-10, I will attend a meeting of the NASA Capability Enhancement Space Grant Directors in Washington, DC. The purpose of this meeting is to continue discussions on two major items: 1) the current NASA plan to manage the Space Grant Program through NASA Centers rather than NASA Headquarters, and 2) the plan to seek Congressional support to increase the NASA EPSCoR FY-99 funding to $10 million instead of the current FY-98 funding of $5 million. If successful, this augmentation to the NASA EPSCoR funding would make it possible for all the eligible EPSCoR states, including South Dakota, to participate in this program. As the Director of the SDSGC, I believe the Consortium has a number of excellent opportunities for the future as a result of the items that I have summarized above. Our willingness to contribute ideas, accept changes, and work collaboratively on focused activities that can strengthen research infrastructure, higher education, K-12 outreach projects, and our affiliate participation in South Dakota will dictate the Consortium’s future progress. Thanks for your contributions to-date and I look forward to your active participation in the Consortium’s activities and programs during the next year.

SKILL Receives Grant

The South Dakota Community Foundation recently awarded a grant to support SKILL’s NASA Honors Program. The four-year NASA Honors Program is a four-week residential summer program revolving around NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth (re-named Earth Systems Science) and college preparatory classes at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. The 1997 freshman class at SDSM&T included eight American Indian students who participated in the NASA Honors Program.

SKILL Affiliates with SD Space Grant Consortium

SKILL (Scientific Knowledge for Indian Learning & Leadership) at the SD School of Mines & Technology is the newest educational affiliate of the SDSGC. The affiliation status follows several years of a strong cooperative relationship. Phil Huebner, SKILL project director, will be responsible for coordinating the Consortium’s Student Research Balloon Project with Native American middle and high school students. Students at Tech will mentor teachers and young students in data collection methods and retrieval of data from weather balloons launched by the SGC. Ground station weather monitoring at various reservation schools will begin in the spring of ‘98 followed by the launch of weather balloons to compare the ground data collected. Schools ready to participate at this time are Red Cloud, Todd County and Dupree; Lower Brule will come on board at a later date.


A glimpse into NASA’s collection of more than 300,000 photographs of the Earth from Space is provided by a selection of 500 of the best of these images. These images have been selected from all those taken by astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle, and Mir spacecraft since 1962 to the present. They have been captioned and posted on the World Wide Web site maintained by the Earth Science Branch at the Johnson Space Center. Entitled "Earth from Space: An Astronaut’s Views of the Home Planet", this selection is available to the public for viewing and downloading at URL This new selection of 500 "best" photos of Earth from space may be thought of as illustrated cards in a catalog to the whole collection. These 500 photos are organized into easy-to-use categories and coupled with robust search capabilities. The categories represent the range of places and processes visible in the global collection. "Earth Landscapes" illustrate the geologic features seen in the Astronaut’s photos. "Earth-Human Interactions" offer measures of environmental change over the past 25 years. "Hurricanes and Weather" sample meteorological phenomena. "Earth’s Water Habitats" show oceanographic and hydrologic structures. Specific "Cities" can be viewed, as can the "Geographic Regions" covered by this selection. The Category "Distinctive Features" lists in alphabetical order the primary subjects of these 500 photos. Visitors to the "Earth from Space" Web site can choose to download any of these 500 photographs at three resolutions: thumbnail (about 20 kilobytes, compressed; low-resolution (100-200 kb, compressed; 1 megabyte, uncompressed), and high resolution (1-10 Mb. compressed; 75 Mb uncompressed). New images from recent missions will be added to the collection at frequent intervals. Point of Contact: Kamlesh Lulla, Ph.D, Chief, Earth Science Branch, NASA/Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX 77058. Tel. 281-483-5066, e-mail: Accessing and using these photos will be part of the Aerospace in the Curriculum teacher workshop at SDSM&T and Augustana College June 21-26, 1998. See related article for details.

Exploring Space Science Day

Students third grade and older can explore aeronautics, aerospace, math and science on June 26 at the SD School of Mines & Technology, Rapid City. The program is designed for students and their parents or adult leaders of youth organizations to work with aerospace and aviation educators. Bill Daley, geographer/climatologist from NASA’s Space Shuttle Earth Observation Program will show slides of the Earth from space taken by Astronauts and explain how to use the photos to identify land features, weather patterns, and other Earth and space phenomenon. Dennis Yeager, Director of Education, North Central Region Civil Air Patrol, will work with students to build mini rockets, measure the distance from Earth to the Moon and other hands-on experiments. This is the fourth year for the program and last summer it was expanded to include a special program at Story Book Island sponsored by the Rotary Club. Cost is $2.00 per person, pre-registration is required. Deadline June 15, 1998 For information and to pre-register contact the SD Space Grant office at 394-1975 or write to SDSGC/SDSM&T, 501 E. St. Joseph St., Rapid City SD 57701.

SGC Hosts Lecture Series

The South Dakota Space Grant Consortium at South Dakota State University hosted its third annual lecture series during the 1997-98 academic year. The SDSU/EROS Data Center lecture series featured the following speakers: Dave Meyer in November speaking on "Floods 97;"Robert Klaver in December speaking on "Crop Water Activities at the EROS Data Center;" Saud Amer in January speaking on "Earth Observing Systems Activities at the EROS Data Center;" Dave Greenlee in February speaking of "EROS Data Center Data on the Internet." Tom Loveland will speak in the Rotunda the 2nd week of April on "Global Land Cover Mapping" (check the SDSU schedule of events for day and time). Lectures were held the second week of each month during the school year. There will not be a lecture in March during spring break. Students and faculty attended the lectures which were in SDSU’s Rotunda. Refreshments and informal discussions follow the talks.


Augustana College Dr. Gil Blankespoor, Summer Faculty Fellow to EROS Data Center was involved with training in the use and interpretation of remotely sensed images, classifying several lakes for which ground truth is available and where Common Mergansers are known to breed. He used the classification to predict the presence or absence of Common Mergansers in other lakes, using these lakes to determine whether or not these prediction were accurate. Jamie Gudmastad, Student Fellow was a research assistant under Dr. Larry Tieszen and focused on preparation of samples for isotopic analysis and statistical analysis relating data to climate variables. She presented a hands-on session of her research for high school students on Science Day. Cullen Robbins, Student Fellow worked on quantifying relationships between biomass and remotely sensed data collected at the EROS Data Center. He was also attempting to establish relationships between reflectance and other biophysical parameters, e.g. leaf area index, absorbed photosynthetically active radiation, and plant phenology. He had an exhibit and demonstration of this research at Science Day. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Rand Feind, Faculty Fellow at EROS Data Center, worked on methods of retrieval of evapotranspiration from satellite remote sensing imagery. He also worked with EDC data products and methodologies used to derive them. Bruce Berdanier, Faculty Fellow, EROS Data Center, studied integrated Landsat imagery and DOQ’s for urban land characterization. His proposal was to investigate the application of remotely sensed data to the characterization of land cover in the South Dakota area and to develop an index for different urban areas. Lisa Teeslink, Graduate Student Fellow, Ms. Teeslink has been a Space Grant Graduate Fellow at SDSM&T since Summer 1997. She has been a leading force in the Student Research Balloon Project. She has focused on data storage and communication, tracking, and launch aspects of this project. Lisa is also working on a M.S. in Electrical Engineering. Theresa Corbin, Graduate Student Fellow, Ms. Corbin was a Space Grant Graduate Fellow at SDSM&T during 1997. She participated in the Student Research Balloon Project and has continued on in the Atmospheric, Environmental and Water Resources(AEWR) Ph.D. program. She also has collaborated in the sulfur gas research programs in Tech’s Analytical Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratory with Drs. Sherry Farwell and Doug MacTaggart.

South Dakota State University Seng Suan Goh, Undergraduate Research Assistant, was involved in improving the clarity of satellite images. He focused on images that are captured by Landsat, sent back to Earth and stored at EROS Data Center. When Landsat images are returned to Earth they are often distorted due to such factors as temperature, atmosphere and optics. Goh’s work is on a special filter to clarify these images. Denise Malo, Undergraduate Research Assistant, is assisting in ongoing research for the USDA by reviewing soil nitrogen mineralization of an SDSU field plot. She gathers soil samples, examines aerial photographs and analyze the soil for substances such as herbicides, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. She expects her research to have implications for agriculture and the environment. Brian Broulik, Graduate Student Assistant, focused his research on the applications of remote sensing techniques to precision agriculture by analyzing satellite and aerial imagery. This effort to identify areas of nutrient deficiency, insect problems and weed populations in fields will ultimately benefit the agricultural producer. Suzette Burckhard, Faculty Fellow at EROS Data Center, is searching for a solution to the problem of planting appropriate vegetation in contaminated soil as a method of economical cleanup. Phytoremediation is a natural method that uses vegetation to clean up soils contaminated with petroleum or hydrocarbons. The vegetation treats the petroleum as a food source, degrading it and leaving the soil in place when completed.


Information is available at the Consortium offices at member institutions, SD School of Mines & Technology, SD State University and Augustana College. Applications are due by March 13, 1998. Selection will be announced by April 1, 1998. Application announcements will be posted at the member universities or call 394-1975 or e-mail lallen@silver. for assistance.

Science Day

Science Day is part of K-12 outreach at Augustana College and provides high school juniors and seniors a day filled with hands-on science opportunities and experiences. The annual fall event is designed to encourage students to study and understand the sciences and to eliminate the fear that the word "science" sometimes conveys. In 1997 the college hosted 340 students. A special invitation went to Native American and female students to encourage participation in science events from underrepresented groups. Two students selected to participate in Science Day received $8000 scholarships to attend Augustana College and major in the sciences.

CONSORTIUM SCHOLARS CREATE CD-ROM FOR EARTH SCIENCE Former SD SGC Scholars at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology Form New Company

Todd Gagne and Andrew Long are partners in a new software development company that is creating a CD-ROM of Earth science for high school students. Trevor Davenport, also a former SGC Scholar is collaborating on the web page for the company. The new company, GaiaSphere, is developing software that combines on-line lessons, field experiments and tutorials. The Earth science software, "City of Spheres", will be ready later this year. According to Gagne, GaiaSphere executive producer, student lessons will be interactive. "It will be a supplement to lectures and textbooks." GaiaSphere researched high school Earth science curricula in 50 states and included material that was a constant in all curricula. "Everything in here is standard with what’s being taught," said Gagne. Students will have the choice of exploring six areas: hydrosphere, atmosphere, lithosphere, biosphere, mantle and core, and outer space. Inside each area, students can choose a subtopic such as "glaciers" from ‘hydrosphere". They can then go deeper and study "valley glaciers" including how ice sheets move. They can also view pictures of glaciers throughout the world. Solving math problems and answering questions connected to the topics are also part of the lessons. The lessons also include career information and students can view people working in the field. The GaiaSphere Internet site lets students connect to a field experiment being conducted on global warming. Students can plug in data they have collected on carbon dioxide, water cycle, vegetation, and rate of consumption of fossil fuels and GaiaSphere will use the data to create a global climate model. The "Tube of the Unknown" is another area of the software that lets students explore unknown aspects of science, such as El Nino. These unknown areas demonstrate that Earth science is constantly evolving and new things are there to be discovered, according to Gagne. Animation, sound effects and artwork are combined in the applications to make them fun and take away some students’ fears of math and science. As soon as "City of Spheres" is on the market, GaiaSphere will make similar software available for biology, physics and chemistry. Call GaiaSphere at 605-341-1311 for information on "City of Spheres".


Aerospace and Aviation science will provide the framework for teaching math, science , technology to students K-12 in any class. Learning literally "lifts off" as teachers experience new methods of presenting math, science and technology with hands-on experiments, field trips, and a variety of educational resources from NASA, the Civil Air Patrol and Federal Aviation Administration. Rocket design and creation is just one way to teach physics, art, history, math and creativity and have fun doing it. The final "launch" is always fun, educational and surprising. Teachers learn about principles of flight by constructing and flying paper airplanes. Field trips to regional and private airports reinforce lessons and explore career opportunities in aviation and aerospace for students. Presenters include Bill Daley, Hernandez Engineering, Inc. of NASA’s Space Shuttle Earth Observation Project; Dennis Yeager, Civil Air Patrol, North Central Liaison Region Director of Aerospace Education : Professor Emeritus Lester W. Snyder, SDSM&T; Dr. Valerie Olness, Department of Biology & Science Education, Augustana College; Federal Aviation Administration personnel; NASA Aerospace Education Specialists from Johnson Space Center. Participants receive extensive free educational resources for their classes and will be certified to check out the lunar samples from NASA/JSC. Workshops will be presented simultaneously at SDSM&T in Rapid City and Augustana College in Sioux Falls from June 22-26, 1998. Pre-registration is required by May 15. Enrollment is limited to 24. For information on credit, cost, accommodations contact Linda B. Allen at the SD Space Grant Consortium Outreach office 394-1975 or Dr. Valerie Olness at Augustana College 336-4720. Credit is offered through SD School of Mines & Technology or Augustana College. Teacher re-certification is offered through the Rapid City and Sioux Falls School Districts.