Mission Tool Suite For Education (MTSE)

Did you know that NASA has an Airborne Science Mission Tools Suite (MTS) that allows for the planning, operating and managing of the Airborne Science Mission Operations from a web-based site by scientist and engineers? MTS enables remote monitoring of real-time aircraft location, viewing of current and archived flight tracks, team communication, and collaboration including multi-user chat. This allows teams of scientists and engineers to be in constant communication while the data is being collected in real time.

HOWEVER, did you know that NASA has also created a scaled down version of the Mission Tools Suite for Education? That’s right, there is a Mission Tools Suite for Education connects K-12 Classrooms from across the United States and around the world with NASA Airborne Science Program missions during the course of a mission. Students and teachers can:

• Track the position of NASA aircraft in real-time on a 2D or 3D map
• View live camera feeds from the aircraft
• Access real-time satellite data products
• Conduct live text chats with the pilots and scientist onboard
• Access Mission Files and handouts to go along with the research projects

With access to live data, you can use the Mission Tools Suite for Educations to have your students plot aircraft altitude, speed, temperature, wind speed, etc. in real-time allowing for rich discussion and use of higher order thinking skills as they describe the plots and their meanings.  The Mission Tools Suite for Education can be used by multiple classrooms at the same time on the same flight allowing classrooms to from various locations to interact as well.  The current record is 15 classrooms (352 students) at one time for an ATTREX flight.

The Mission Tools Suite for Education is a great way to follow along with NASA Airborne Science Missions when they are in the data collection phase.  It allows the students to experience authentic scientific research as it happens.  The screenshot shown below shows how the Mission Tools Suite for Education website appeared during the Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) campaign. Students were able to watch a live camera feed from the Global Hawk aircraft, track the plane’s location near Hurricane Nadine, and chat live with HS3 Mission Scientists, Pilots and Airborne Science educational staff. On Airborne Science Program missions such as Operation IceBridge and DISCOVER-AQ, Mission Tools Suite for Education allowed students from all over the world to connect in real-time with mission personnel who were inside NASA aircraft flying over locations as remote as Antarctica.

For more information about the NASA Airborne Science Program and other opportunities for students visit airbornescience.nasa.gov.  If you are interested in knowing more about Mission Tools Suite for Education and how you can connect your classroom please email Dr Emily Schaller (e.schaller@nserc.und.edu).

Barbara R Buckner, Ph.D.
Educator Professional Development Specialist
NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center