Virginia Students Design a Mission to Mars at NASA Langley

HAMPTON, Va., June 19, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 175 rising high school seniors from across Virginia will spend a week at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton this summer planning a simulated mission to Mars.

They are part of the Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars (VASTS) academy, sponsored by NASA Langley in partnership with the Virginia Space Grant Consortium. VASTS will hold three sessions: June 23-27, July 7-11 and July 21-25.

Media interested in attending during the June academy can contact Kathy Barnstorff at or 757-864-9886. Media interested in coming in July can contact Sasha Congiu at or 757-272-9859.

To prepare for their week at NASA Langley, students spent six months participating in a distance-learning program on aerospace exploration. Scholars will use what they learned online to design and implement plans for a human mission to Mars, with the help of NASA Langley rocket scientists and mentors, teachers and undergraduate interns. They will work on five teams: mission integration, mission transit, human factors, science and surface operations, and strategic communications. Just as in real NASA planning each team plays a vital role in mission success.

Entering its seventh year, VASTS is a competitive program that uses space exploration to help teach high school juniors a broad range of mathematics, science, engineering and technology skills.

For more information about VASTS, visit:

For more information about NASA research and exploration, visit:

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