The Sky is Not the Limit at Montana State University
You're heard the term "The sky's the limit!" Well, it goes beyond that at MSU in Bozeman. The Montana Space Grant Consortium (MSGC) has become an important partner with MSU. Over the years, the MSGC has brought Montana students into the NASA realm of space sciences, and now Samantha Riebling has completed one of ten summer internships in the BOREALIS project. BOREALIS stands for Balloon Outreach, Exploration and Landscape Imaging System and launches high-altitude research balloons, something which MSU has had previous successes.
Riebling learned the balloon launch details in six launches this summer and, on the seventh launch, she was responsible for overseeing all technical aspects. That balloon carried a payload that measures and detects neutrons in the Earth's upper atmosphere and will be heading to the moon in a future NASA flight.
In a news release, Riebling said, "The whole process started with little responsibilities and I slowly gained more as I learned more. Every launch I would shadow our lead, which ended up being a great benefit because on one of our last launches I was responsible for all those steps."
She also was an instructor at last summer's MSU Explore: Earth, Space and Science Camp for underrepresented students from rural towns and reservations. She plans to become a technology education teacher after graduation. She is studying at the MSU College of Agriculture and the Department of Agricultural and Technology Education. She said, "I also want to take the things I learned and put them toward tech ed outreach. I think we need to focus on getting kids into our program and letting them know that this is an option for their careers."
The Montana State Grant Consortium has been instrumental in a number of Montana-based projects including black hole studies, the STEM program for elementary teachers, Robotics competition, a UM drones program, Earth-orbiting satellites, radiation-tolerant computer technology for outer space, along with fellowships and internships.