April 4, 2024: The Challenges and Ethics of Space Exploration

Sagnika Chanda, Zita Hüsing, and Lainie Pomerleau present “The Challenges and Ethics of Space Exploration,” a one-day symposium for undergraduate students, faculty, and staff. The symposium focuses on science fiction’s ability to help people critically engage with contemporary issues of space exploration and astrobiology. This event investigates how space exploration can be conducted in an ethical and sustainable manner, drawing from genres like science fiction as a source of innovation and inspiration.

Join us Thursday, April 4, from 9am-4pm

New Multidisciplinary Initiative Marks Golden Age for Space Research

The Georgia Institute of Technology has a long history in space research and exploration, from educating astronauts to developing and controlling spacecraft that can travel across the solar system.

Some Georgia Tech researchers solve cosmic mysteries such as how supermassive black holes were born — and others now are getting a better, sharper look at those black holes. There are investigators searching for the origins of life, and some leading multi-institutional projects exploring questions of  how life evolved and about the presence of water in the lunar environment to enable the return of human explorers for a sustained period.

And that barely gets us into orbit — there’s a lot of Georgia Tech in space. Much of the work is supported by longtime Georgia Tech partners like NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Defense. But as space becomes more accessible, affordable, and necessary for commercial activity — and therefore more crowded — Tech is also developing expertise in space policy and business.

And now, plans are underway for the next big phase of Georgia Tech’s outer space mission with the launch of the Space Research Initiative (SRI) on campus. The SRI team will work to strengthen interdisciplinary relationships in space research at Georgia Tech, which will lead to creation of an Interdisciplinary Research Institute (IRI) by 2025.

Ramblin’ Wreck Orbits the Sun

Georgia Tech now owns an interplanetary “Ramblin’ Wreck”  — a briefcase-sized spacecraft orbiting the sun, capping a student-led mission in the cosmos.

Right now, approximately 3.7 million miles from Earth, a small spacecraft the size of a briefcase is racing away from the planet by about 40,000 miles every day. And each day, sometimes twice, a team of 10 Georgia Tech undergraduate students communicate with it to monitor its health, respond to anomalies, and use its instruments for scientific studies.

Not only are they controlling the sun-circling satellite, but they also own it. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California has given Lunar Flashlight to Georgia Tech, making it the only higher education institution in full control of an interplanetary spacecraft. The designation is typically reserved for NASA or foreign governments.

“It’s really crazy. I didn’t imagine as an undergraduate that I would be talking to a satellite, let alone leading a team of 10 of my peers,” said Micah Pledger, an aerospace engineering student serving as missions operations lead. “Our team learns so much every day.”