Grand Valley students designing space tool for NASA

Posted at 6:13 PM, Mar 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-15 18:35:58-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A group of undergraduate engineering students called The Grand Valley North Stars are designing a tool that NASA may use in future space missions.

They're doing it as part of NASA's 'Micro-g NExT' design challenge, which invites undergraduate student teams to build and test a device that addresses a current space exploration challenge.

The Grand Valley North Stars have been working on their device since November, and will be travelling to Johnson Space Center in Houston to have it tested in May.

"They have the Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Johnson Space Center which is just a huge pool, basically, that simulates zero gravity," says Brianna Forsthoefel, a Junior Mechanical Engineering student at GVSU.  "They'll take the device under, then we'll tell them how to work it and then we'll see. Hopefully all things go well."

The students are designing a surface sampling derive tool, which is designed to take samples the size of a grain of sand from asteroids and other space objects.

NASA could use the device for their upcoming Asteroid Redirect Mission, and/or other upcoming space missions.