Image via Flickr/NASA (CC BY 2.0)

A new program spearheaded by NASA is relying on the brightest student minds across America to develop and then fly a science payload on NASA suborbital platforms.

The Undergraduate Student Instrument Program sponsored by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate was created to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics by offering hands-on Earth or space flight project experience. For it’s inaugural year, USIP hand-selected 10 U.S. college and university team proposals – projects created by students and then launched on anything from a zero-g aircraft to sounding rockets provided by NASA.

Three teams from the D.C. area were chosen by NASA to participate, including Catholic University of America, University of Maryland Eastern Shore and the University of Virginia. The trio will be working on several different instruments, all of which will be sent into space via scientific balloon.

Catholic students will be in charge of a real-time altitude determination system for the scientific balloon, UMES’ team will be responsible for Measurement of Red Line Airglow (to determine oxygen levels) and the young members from UVa will be developing the CubeSat Cosmic Ray Dosimeter (a small satellite that can measure cosmic rays).

You can check out what other selected science teams are building and testing, as well as which suborbital platform they will launch on below:

Scientific Balloon:

— University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia – CubeSat Cosmic Ray Dosimeter
— Utah State University, Logan, Utah, and University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, Maryland – Measurements of Red Line Airglow (RLAGS)
— Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. – Real-time attitude determination system for scientific balloon

Small Balloon:

— Gannon University, Erie, Pennsylvania – Cosmic Ray Calorimeter

Weather Balloon:

— University of Houston, Houston, Texas – Auroral ionosphere and stratosphere study using smartphone technology

Parabolic Aircraft Flight:

— Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin – Propellant measurement techniques
— University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida – Microgravity experiment on accretion in space environments

Sounding Rocket:

— West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia – Ionospheric response to interplanetary disturbances during magnetic storms.

Airborne Science:

— Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and A&M College, College Station, Texas – Microbial aerosol sampling

Commercial Carrier:

— Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Multi-modal, high-resolution mapping