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United Space School 2014

Mandatory Pre-requisite Assignments

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All assignments must be submitted by the submission date there are NO exceptions!
All assignments, except the Personal Introduction, should be sent as PDF only.
Submission Dates:
Submission of Personal Bio & Math Assignment
Submission of Chemistry Assignment
Submission of Physics Assignment & Mission Assessment
Submission of Biology Assignment & Mission Design

May 30, 2014
June 13, 2014
June 27, 2014

E-mail ALL assignments (or questions) to:

assignments@unitedspaceschool.org
The PDF should be named as [AssignmentName_FirstName_LastName.pdf]
Note: Many thanks to NASA Education for providing public images & lessons for these assignments.

Personal Introduction Assignment: Due by April 30, 2014. (Completion Only)

Make one (1) PowerPoint slide introducing yourself. This will be seen by FISE board members, USS staff,
and Host Families. Information to include on this slide should be brief and descriptive. Please avoid very
dark colors or graphics and make sure that the text is clear and readable. Be creative, but no animation.
Include:

Name
School attending
Favorite subjects
Hobbies and interests
Family information
1 or 2 photos
Country flag

Name the file as [FirstName LastName.ppt]

Leave in PowerPoint format. Upload the completed document to the designated Google folder:

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Page 2 of 13

Math Assignment #1: Due by May 16, 2014. (2 marks each question 10 marks total).

Planning for a Mission to Mars

Evaluate two plans for missions to Mars. Calculate each with a crew of eight astronauts.

Plan 1
Plan 2

Time to Mars
150 days
224 days

Time on Mars
619 days
30 days

Time Back to Earth

110 days
291 days

1. Based on previous experiments in space, we estimate that astronauts may lose on average, 0.28
grams of bone calcium for each day in zero gravity. At this rate how much calcium would each
astronaut lose before reaching Mars with each plan (to the nearest gram)?
2. We believe astronauts may regain calcium while they are on Mars (in 1/3 gravity), but we don't know
the rate. For each plan, how much calcium would they have to regain each day to have recovered all of
their calcium by the time they leave Mars (to the nearest thousandths of a gram)?
3. We have to bring all the life-support supplies for each astronaut. Each astronaut needs 60 pounds of
supplies per day. How many kilograms of these supplies would we need to lift for each plan?
4. It currently costs about \$6.60 (U.S. dollars) for each gram that must be lifted off of Earth. What would
the cost be for carrying the supplies for each plan?
5. By recycling, we could reduce the amount of food, water and oxygen to 18 percent of the amount that
otherwise would be required. With recycling, what would be the cost for lifting supplies for each plan?

Math Assignment #2: Due by May 16, 2014. (2 marks each question 10 marks total).

The Mathematics of Ion Rocket Engines

Believe it or not, NASA has been using ion engines for decades and many commercial satellites use them too!
The operating principle is simple.
Heavy atoms such as cesium and xenon are ionized, accelerated through a high-voltage grid, and ejected out
the back of the thruster. The momentum of the ejected heavy atoms, when multiplied by the trillions of atoms in
the beam, produces a steady, constant thrust that can be maintained for years at a time. Because of the high
speed of the atoms very little mass is needed to generate a large thrust over time. For the Dawn spacecraft
launched in 2007, the 'fuel' mass is only 425 kilograms, but ejected steadily for 8 years, the 1,200 kilogram
satellite will reach a speed of over 36,000 km/hour (22,300 miles/hour). This is equal to 315 million
kilometers/year or the distance to the sun and back from Earth! Here is some of the mathematics, in a highly
simplified form that will take you through the basic ideas behind these exciting rocket technologies!
1. Charged particles gain speed in an electric field - The kinetic energy of a particle is given by K.E. = 1/2
mv2. The energy a charged particle gains from falling through a potential difference of V volts is given
by E = qV. The NSTAR ion engine developed for the Deep Space 1 satellite uses xenon atoms with a
mass of 2.2 x 10-25 kg, and a charge of q = 1.6 x 10-19 coulombs. What will be the speed of the atom,
in kilometers/hour, if the voltage grid of the ion engine is 1,300 volts?
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2. The smaller the grid separation, the higher the acceleration - The NSTAR engine has a grid separation
of 0.7 mm. From your answer to Problem 1, A) what is the average acceleration of the ions as the leave
the grid? B) What is the force they experience, in Newtons?
3. The thrust depends on particle flow rate - How many particles have to be ejected in the time it takes to
cross the grid, to create a thrust of 0.90 Newtons? (Express the answer in particles per second).
4. Charged particle flows produce electrical currents - If each particle carries exactly one unit of charge,
and 1 Ampere = 6.25 x 1018 particles/sec, what is the current needed in the beam to give the thrust in
Problem 3?
5. Currents require power to maintain them - What is the beam power, in watts, defined by Power =
Voltage x Amperage?

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Page 4 of 13

Chemistry Assignment #1: Due by May 30, 2014. (2 marks each question 10 marks total).

The Chemistry of Bone Loss

On Earth, human populations lose bone mass density at different rates. For example, the rate of bone loss for
elderly men and women ranges from 1%1.5% per year, whereas the rate of bone loss for an early
postmenopausal woman could be as much as 23% per year.
Bone loss increases significantly when the human body is in a reduced gravity environment. Male and female
astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS), or on future long-duration missions, can lose an average
of 12% of their pre-flight bone mineral density each month they are in space, regardless of their age. This loss
of bone calcium has been the focus of much research. While many factors seem to contribute to bone loss, a
clear solution has not yet been determined. In this activity, you will analyze just one of the potential factors
associated with bone loss.
A persons blood can become slightly acidic by consuming a diet high in animal protein and low in fruits and
vegetables. Animal protein has a high level of amino acids. These amino acids contain sulfur which breaks
down, forming sulfuric acid and influencing blood pH. Small decreases in blood pH make the blood more acidic
and can activate the process of bone resorption (breakdown). To help neutralize this acid and slow the rate of
bone resorption, calcium carbonate is mobilized.
Researchers at NASA recognize that there are many factors that affect the loss of calcium in bones. As you
answer the following questions, assume that the amount of sulfuric acid in the blood is the only contributing
factor.
1. Answer the following questions that relate to chemical reactions.
a. Write a complete balanced equation for the reaction between sulfuric acid and calcium
carbonate.

b. Write the net ionic equation for the reaction.

2. While in space, the average astronaut loses approximately 200 mg of calcium carbonate per day.
Assume all the calcium carbonate is used to neutralize the amount of sulfuric acid resulting from the
breakdown of sulfur-containing amino acids.
a. Determine the mass of sulfuric acid used in the process.
b. How much of this mass (in grams) is accounted for by the sulfur?
3. Carbonic acid, a by-product of the reaction between calcium carbonate and sulfuric acid, breaks down
further to water and carbon dioxide. Based on the amount of calcium carbonate present:
a. What is the mass of carbon dioxide produced in the process?
b. Calculate the percentage of carbon dioxide attributed to bone loss? (Assume the average
person exhales 1 kg of carbon dioxide per day.)
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4. A visit to Mars may be on the forefront of space exploration. One of NASAs major concerns is the
duration of time required for a Mars mission. Currently, astronauts spend an average of 6 months on an
ISS mission. A trip to Mars, however, would require 9 months to arrive, 26 months to study the planet,
and 9 months to return to Earth. It is currently projected that an astronaut would lose 1.50% of his or
her pre-flight bone mineral density per month while on a Mars mission.
a. Assume that there are 1500 grams of calcium in an astronauts bones pre-flight. Predict the
mass of calcium that would remain after 1 year on a Mars mission.
b. Assume the astronaut referred to in part I had a bone loss rate on Earth of 0.450% before going
into space. Predict the mass of calcium that would have remained in the astronauts bones after
the same 1-year period on Earth.
5. Based on the above information, how might astronauts dietary decisions minimize their bone loss in

Chemistry Assignment #2: Due by May 30, 2014. (3 marks each question 9 marks total).

Ice or Water?
There are no known terrestrial organisms that can exist at a temperature lower than the freezing temperature
of water. It is also believed that liquid water is a crucial ingredient to the chemistry that leads to the origin of
life. To change water-ice to liquid water requires energy.
First, you need energy to raise the ice from wherever temperature it is, to 0 Celsius. This is called the Specific
Heat and is 2.04 kiloJoules/kilogram-C.
Then you need enough energy added to the ice near 0 C to actually melt the ice by increasing the kinetic
energy of the water molecules so that their hydrogen bonds weaken, and the water stops acting like a solid.
This is called the Latent Heat of Fusion and is 333 kiloJoules/kilogram.
Let's see how this works!
Example 1: You have a 3 kilogram block of ice at a temperature of -20 C. The energy needed to raise it
by 20 C to a new temperature of 0 C is Eh = 2.04 kiloJoules/kg-C x 3 kilograms x 20 C = 2.04 x 3 x 20 =
122 kiloJoules.
Example 2: You have a 3 kilogram block of ice at 0 C and you want to melt it completely into liquid
water. This requires Em = 333 kiloJoules/kg x 3 kilograms = 999 kiloJoules.
Example 3: The total energy needed to melt a 3 kilogram block of ice from -20 C to 0C is E = Eh + Em =
122 kiloJoules + 999 kiloJoules = 1,121 kiloJoules.
Problems:

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1. On the surface of the satellite Europa (see the NASA Galileo image below), the temperature of ice is 220 C. What total energy in kiloJoules is required to melt a 100 kilogram block of water ice on its
surface? (Note: Calculate Eh and Em separately then combine them to get the total energy.)
2. To a depth of 1 meter, the total mass of ice on the surface of Europa is 2.8 x 1016 kilograms. How
many Joules would be required to melt the entire surface of Europa to this depth? (Note: Calculate Eh
and Em separately then combine them to get the total energy. Then convert kiloJoules to Joules)
3. The sun produces 4.0 x 1026 Joules every second of heat energy. How long would it take to melt
Europa to a depth of 1 meter if all of the Sun's energy could be used? (Note: The numbers are BIG, but
don't panic!)

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Page 7 of 13

Physics Assignment #1: Due by June 13, 2014. (2 marks each question 6 marks total).

Having a Hot Time on Mars!

Mars has virtually no atmosphere leaving its surface unprotected from solar and cosmic radiation.
This figure, created with the NASA MARIE instrument on the Odyssey spacecraft orbiting Mars, shows the

Color
Brown
Orange
Yellow
Light blue
Dark blue

Rem/yr
20
18
16
13
10

Astronauts landing on Mars will want to minimize their total radiation exposure during the 540 days they will
stay on the surface. Assume that the Mars astronauts used improved post-Apollo spacesuit technology
providing a shielding reduction of 1/8 and that the Mars Habitat provided a 1/20 radiation reduction.
Problems:
1. The typical, unshielded radiation dose on the surface of Earth for cosmic rays is about 0.040 Rems/yr.
By what factor is the unshielded, minimum radiation exposure for Mars astronauts in excess of the
normal terrestrial rates?
2. The Mars explorers would like to spend 2 hours in spacesuits and the remaining 24-hours inside the
Mars Habitat during each of the 540-days of exploration on Mars. What would be the approximate total
dose for the astronauts in the 'dark blue' polar regions at the end of A) a single day? B) 1 Earth-year?
C) the entire Mars visit?
3. The total background+lifestyle dose on Earth at ground-level is about 360 milliRem/yr. How many extra
years of radiation exposure will an astronaut accumulate exploring the surface of Mars rather than
'staying home'?

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Page 8 of 13

Physics Assignment #2: Due by June 13, 2014. (2 marks each question 4 marks total).

Total Dose (Rem)
5000

500
400
200

100

50

40

30

29

25

20
15
10

5.0

3.0

2.0
1.0
1.0
0.8
0.3
0.01

Medical Impact
2
Superstorm in a spacesuit (1 gm/cm
shielding) in deep space
100% lethal dose for humans in 30 days.
Predicted radiation from the August 1972
flare in a spacesuit.
2
Superstorm with 10 gm/cm shielding in
deep space
About 5 out of every 100 people will
experience a fatal cancer at this level if
delivered over a short time (minutes to
hours)
astronauts from January 15, 2005 solar
flare
Predicted one-year cosmic ray dosage in
interplanetary space during sunspot
minimum with shielding
Estimated dosage from February 1956
solar proton event with 20
2
gm/cm shielding
2
Superstorm with 20 gm/cm shielding at
ISS altitudes (400km)
dosage for person living on the surface of
Earth.
dosage per year on the surface of Mars
Estimated dosage from August 1972 solar
2
proton event with 20 gm/cm shielding
Predicted one-year cosmic ray dosage in
interplanetary space during sunspot
maximum with shielding
Lowest annual dosage for which no
increases average human cancer rates
have been detected.
Radiation exposure for a 90-day stay in
the International Space Station during
average space weather conditions
visiting the moon and returning to Earth
from January 15, 2005 solar flare
Maximum allowed for uranium miners
inhaling rock dust each year
14-day stay inside Space Shuttle during
solar maximum and highest orbit elevation
Average cosmic ray and natural
background exposure each year
One flight across the North Pole from New
York to Tokyo

The radiation dosages encountered by astronauts

in space in properly shielded spacecraft rarely
exceed the 'nuisance' level. There are no known
examples of deaths directly attributable to excess
radiation exposure among the over 300 astronauts
that have worked in space for prolonged periods of
time.
Nevertheless, there are believed to be risks
exposure. Radiation is measured in two ways:
Total absorbed dose (Rems)
Dosage rate (milliRems/hour)
A solar flare delivers a lot of radiation in a small
amount of time, while cosmic rays deliver small
amounts of radiation for a long period of time.
Although the dosage rates are very different, their
total absorbed dose can be similar over a lifetime.
The table to the left gives the various levels of
radiation total dosage from a variety of sources.
Suppose that a round trip to Mars took 1.0 years
through space, with an additional 0.5-year stay on
the surface.
Problems:
1. What would be the total radiation exposure
in rems if the trip occurred during sunspot
minimum and shielded astronauts encountered 2
flares like the one on January 15, 2005?
2. How many times more radiation would
these astronauts absorb in a year than if they had
stayed on Earth?

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Mission Assessment: Due by June 13, 2014. (10 marks total).

Depending on your area of interest, write a one-page report on either a robotic Mars mission or a
commercial space venture. Your response will be used to help determine your team assignment.
Below is a list of some of the successful robotic missions to Mars:
Mariner 3 (USA)
Mariner 7 (USA)
Mariner 4 (USA)
Mariner 9 (USA)
Mariner 6 (USA)
Mars Global Surveyor (USA)
Viking 1 (USA)
Viking 2 (USA)
Mars 3 - Orbiter (Russia)
Mars 5 Orbiter (Russia)
Mars Express (ESA)
Rosetta (ESA)
Mars Exploration Rovers (USA)
Curiosity (USA)
Remember to include information relating to the highlights of the mission, when the mission took place, what
scientific research it carried out, and lessons for future Mars missions.
OR
Below is a list of some of emerging commercial space ventures that exist today:
Masten Space Systems (USA)
XCOR Aerospace (USA)
Virgin Galactic (USA)
SpaceX (USA)
Planetary Resources (USA)
Deep Space Industries (USA)
Shackleton Energy Company (USA)
Bigelow Aerospace (USA)
NanoRacks (USA)
Blue Origin (USA)
Golden Spike (USA)
Swiss Space Systems (Switzerland)
Mars One (Netherlands)
Inspiration Mars (USA)
Reaction Engines (UK)
Excalibur Almaz (Isle of Man)
NanoSatisfi (USA)
Remember to include information relating to the objectives of the venture, the products and/or capabilities
offered, the status of the venture, and possible applications to a Mars mission. Consider whether the venture
is technically and/or economically feasible or not.
TASK: Choose one of these missions or ventures and write a one-page report.
Format:
Arial, 12-point font
Double-spaced paragraphs
2.5cm/1 inch margins
Header to include: Student Last name, Student First name, Country, Date of report (dd/mm/2014)

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Page 10 of 13

Respiration in Space Flight

Air is circulated in spacecraft using fans that force the air through cabin air loops where the air is conditioned.
Conditioning the air involves a series of processes that remove dust particles, heat, humidity, and carbon
dioxide (CO2). Lithium hydroxide (LiOH) is an attractive choice for removing CO2 in space flight because of its
high absorption capacity for carbon dioxide and the small amount of heat produced in the reaction.
The below figure is a graph that depicts the concentrations of CO2 over a 4 day period. During each 24 hour
period, an estimated 3.5 canisters of LiOH are required to remove the CO2 produced by the crew (this number
is based on a crew of 7 people). Each peak and valley in the graph represents a LiOH changeout. The peak
represents the installation of the canister(s) and the valley represents the canister(s) being saturated with CO2.
Each LiOH changeout could include either one or two canisters being replaced.
The larger peaks represent the replacement of two canisters while the smaller peaks represent only one
canister replacement. If a high level of metabolic oxygen consumption is predicted, a LiOH canister would be
installed prior to the high metabolic rates in order to preclude reaching a high level of partial pressure of CO2.
In the graph, periods of high metabolic consumption are represented by the slope of increase in CO2.

1.

Name two methods for measuring cellular respiration. Which method is the figure depicting?

2. Using the figure, describe the metabolic events represented in each region. Explain your answer in
terms of cellular respiratory function, physiological respiratory function and activity, and environmental
gas balance and pressures.
a. Region 1
b. Region 2
c. Region 3
d. Region 4
3. Suppose convection currents (air flow due to temperature and pressure changes) were not forced using
fans as described in the provided background. List the symptoms (with causes) that the crew members
might exhibit as a result.
4. Suppose in an emergency situation there is an unexpected drop in oxygen (O2) partial pressure
detected by the flight controllers. Crewmembers begin to exhibit symptoms similar to those of high
altitude mountain climbers that could be from one or a combination of gas factors. Identify how the gas
levels cause the physiological symptoms in two of the four systems: circulatory, respiratory, nervous,
and muscular.

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Partial pressures of CO2 in the space shuttle cabin during a four day period.
Note that this is a replicated graph using data from previous space shuttle missions.

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Experiment Design: Due by June 27, 2014. (10 marks total).

In 500 words or less, please describe a small-scale experiment that could be conducted in a NanoRacks 1U
NanoLab (http://nanoracks.com/products/nanolabs/) or a NanoRacks MixStix tube
(http://nanoracks.com/products/mixstix/).
Your experiment should cover one of the following areas and be applicable to a Mars mission.

Technology Demonstration (Air, Water, Surface Monitoring; Radiation Measurement; Communication &
Navigation; Satellite Technologies; Spacecraft Materials; Robotics & Imaging; Orbital Environment;
Avionics & Software)

Review the NanoRacks Documents page (http://nanoracks.com/resources/documents/) for hardware

explanations and their Videos page (http://nanoracks.com/resources/videos/) for descriptions of how to build
Format:
Arial 12-point font
Double-spaced paragraphs
(2.5cm/1inch margins)
Header to include: Student Last name, Student First name, Country, Date of report (dd/mm/2014)