2015/16 VSSEC NASA Australian Space Prize

VSSEC is proud to announce that Jessica Orr, of the University of Queensland, is the winner of the 2015/16 Space Prize. She is both the recipient of the Engineering Category prize and the overall prize.
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Connect With Maths

VSSEC is pleased to support Connect with Maths Day. Join us at the venue or ONLINE for a full day of exciting mathematics professional learning.
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Discover Engineering

Discover a career in Engineering at VSSEC

VSSEC-NASA Australian Space Prize Winner Announced

VSSEC is pleased to announce that Jiro Funamoto of Sydney University is the winner of the 2013 VSSEC-NASA Australian Space Prize.
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Space School 2014

CALLING ALL ASPIRING SPACE SCIENTISTS! VSSEC is hosting a 2014 Space School to introduce Year 9 & 10 students to the cutting edge of space science. If you are a student interested in science and space then this might be the holiday program for you!
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Teacher Earth Science Education Program

TESEP presents Professional Development Workshop 7 - 'Our Place in Space': Thursday 5th December 2013 at VSSEC.
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VSSEC in China

VSSEC conducted a one day workshop for teachers at the Youth Science and Technology Centre of Xicheng, Beijing as part of the International Space Education Board (ISEB) Teacher Development Workshop.
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As of the 14th October the VSSEC-NASA Australian Space Prize is open to Australian Honours and 4th year project submissions!

2012 VSSEC-NASA Australian Space Prize

VSSEC is proud to announce that the 2012 VSSEC-NASA Australian Space Prize is open!

As of the 26th September 2012 the VSSEC-NASA Australian Space Prize is open to Australian Honours and 4th year project submissions!

This is the fourth annual VSSEC-NASA Australian Space Prize, previous Space Prize winners included Elizabeth Blaber, a Biologist from UNSW, Emily Bathgate, a Geologist from University of Technology Sydney and Lyle Roberts, an Engineer from ANU!  The quality of submissions in past years has been very high and we are excited to see what this year's Honors and 4th year students have been working on.

The VSSEC-NASA Australian Space Prize offers an Australian university student the opportunity to attend the NASA Academy programs at NASA Ames Research Center, and work with a lead scientist or engineer on a current NASA project. The NASA Academy is an  intensive select entry program that provides recent graduates with access to advanced science and engineering R&D, and an awareness of the complex managerial, political, financial, social, and human issues faced by the current and future aerospace programs.

Through the awarding of this prize, an Australian university student will:

  • participate in a ten week academy program
  • work directly with scientists and engineers on a current NASA project related to their thesis topic
  • visit JPL, Space X, Virgin Galactic, Kennedy Space Center and more
  • create a network for future collaboration and become part of the Academy Alumni

The prize includes:

  • the Academy program
  • flights and local transport
  • meals and accommodation
  • visa expenses

Please visit the VSSEC website http://www.vssec.vic.edu.au/tertiary/vssec-nasa-australian-space-prize/ for more information including competition guidelines and submission instructions.  Submissions for the Space Prize close midnight on the 3rd of December 2012. Good Luck!

Fresh Science 2012

Fresh Science 2012

Come and hear young scientists reveal their discoveries at a free one-hour forum for secondary school students at Melbourne Museum on Thursday 18 October.

Last year we heard about smart bandages, the sawfish saw, printable solar cells, wallabies immune tricks, ocean arteries, backward planets, designer roots to combat drought and what a little lupin in your diet can do and more.

Fresh Science is a national competition that selects top young scientists from around Australia to present their work to the media and public. The scientists work in a range of fields from botany and zoology to biotechnology, medicine and engineering.

At these free one-hour forums, students will hear from a team of young scientists and have a chance to ask questions. Each scientist will talk for three minutes about their discoveries in a way that is understandable, interesting and relevant. The session will be chaired by 3AW reporter, Donna Demaio.

Book your students into the Fresh Science forum and continue the great engagement with science at the museum, combine it with a movie at IMAX Melbourne; or one of the many self-guided programs through the Science and Life galleries: Dynamic Earth, 600 Million Years, Wild and Dinosaur Walk as well as favourites such as Bugs Alive! Marine Life, The Mind and Human Body and the Forest Gallery.

For more information go to http://museumvictoria.com.au/melbournemuseum/education/.

Where:               Melbourne Museum Theatre, Melbourne Museum

When:                Thursday 18 October 2012 10-11am and 11:30–12:30pm

Cost:                  The Fresh Science forums are free, but bookings essential.

Charges may apply for additional Melbourne Museum education programs and IMAX – enquire when booking.

For bookings, contact the Melbourne Museum: 

  • 8:30am - 5:00pm, Monday to Friday.

  • 1300 130 152 (regional callers)

  • 03 8341 7767 (metro callers)

  • IMAX online www.imaxmelbourne.com.au

Share the stage with a Nobel Laureate

Share the stage with a Nobel Laureate

Year 7 to 11 students from around Australia have the chance to present their work at the 2012 Australian Institute of Physics Congress in Sydney on the final day of the congress, 13th December.

As the Australian Institute of Physics Congress approaches, they have launched a competition for Australian high school students that will allow the winner to talk at the Congress, and collect $1,000.

Student Experiment Competition—Share the stage with a Nobel Laureate, and win $1,000.

Students will investigate a physical phenomenon of their choice and write up their research for evaluation by a panel of judges. The overall winner will get a prize of $1000 and will be invited to present their research as the warm-up act to 2011 Nobel Laureate Professor Brian Schmidt’s public lecture at the Congress. All accepted entries will feature in a UNSW poster session and up to 10 runners-up will have their posters displayed at the national conference, with the two best posters receiving $500.

Suggested Experiments:
• Original Research, if you can think of a good question
or, experiments to answer an interesting question of their own choosing. The following list is just to suggest that there are many such questions:
• Why is the sky blue? (model experiments would be fine)
• Why are the front brakes on cars bigger than the rear brakes? (model experiments would be fine)
• What gain can be achieved with a simple acoustic telescope?
• How much has the visible face of the moon changed/moved since Galileo? (Your observations)
• How does a plane (or a bird or a bee) fly? (model experiments fine in all cases)
• How does rotating a magnet about various axes, including that of symmetry, affect its field and the Faraday emfs produced?

Up to five students can be in a team, but only one person from the winning team will be invited to give the talk.
Students must register their interest by 15th October with submission due by 15th November. For more information, tips, an experiment report template and other information visit:


Amelia Earhart Fellowships for Women

Amelia Earhart Fellowships for Women

In 2013, Zonta International are offering 35 Fellowships for women pursuing aerospace-related sciences and aerospace engineering.

The Fellowships memorialize famed air pioneer and Zontian, Amelia Earhart, who disappeared over the Pacific in 1937. By remembering Amelia Earhart through this fellowship, Zonta International encourages and supports women to expand their horizons by pursuing aerospace-related sciences and aerospace engineering. There have been 1,368 Amelia Earhart Fellowships totaling over US$8 million awarded to 959 fellows worldwide. It is anticipated that 35 Fellowships will be awarded in 2013.


Women of any nationality are eligible. To apply for the fellowship, you must meet the following minimum requirements:
1. Be registered in a full-time Ph.D./doctoral program in a qualifying area of science or engineering closely related to advanced studies in aerospace-related science or aerospace-related engineering. A letter of acceptance or verification of enrollment must be submitted with the application.
2. Demonstrate a superior academic record at a recognized university or college with accredited courses in aerospace-related studies as verified by official transcripts and recommendations. In programs where graduate transcripts are not provided as a matter of institution policy, please provide a statement of that policy from the registrar or other school official. Please note that electronic transcripts will not be accepted.
3. Provide evidence of a well-defined research program in aerospace-related science or aerospace-related engineering as described in the application essay (in general scientific terms), the academic documents and publications.
4. Clearly demonstrate the relationship of the research to aerospace and furnish verification of research program through at least one of the reference letters required with the application [i.e. research supervisor or advisor must be one of the referees].
Applicant must be registered in a full-time Ph.D./doctorate program when funds are received in September and will not graduate before April 2014.


The application can also be downloaded from Zonta International. The application, recommendations, official transcripts, and verification of enrollment for 2013 Amelia Earhart Fellowships must be received or post-marked by 15 November 2012 to be considered.


NASA's Curiosity Rover Lands!

Curiosity Rover Touches Down Safely!

At 3:31pm AEST NASA's Curiosity Rover touched down on the surface of Mars!

 After a breathless 7 minutes and 45 seconds, signal came back from Curiosity confirming that not only had she survived her Entry Descent Landing (EDL), but had landed exactly where she was supposed to. Landing Curiosity (or MSL) was no small feat: the landing sequence required six vehicle configurations, an enormous supersonic parachute, 76 pyrotechnic devices and over half a million lines of code.At each stage of the Landing sequence Curiosity emitted a tone that could be read by the team at Pasadena indicating successful transition to the next stage.  While telemetry was a little slow coming online it eventually did start to return information - much to everyone's relief!  4 minutes 35 seconds after receiving telemetry the supersonic parachute was successfully deployed, then 1 minute and 25 seconds later was jettisoned and the Rover then shifted from stowed flight configuration (all folded up in the descent module) to landing configuration (wheels deployed for landing as the Sky Crane began to lower it down. 32 seconds after Sky Crane began the lowering sequence Curiosity successfully touched down!
The very first image Curiosity sent back to an
ecstatic Mission Control at JPL

Congratulations to the NASA MSL team for a stupendous job and good luck to Curiosity as she embarks on her exploration of Gale Crater.

Curiosity'sheat shield as seen
by the Descent Imager.
Curiosity's supersonic parachute
spotted by Mars Reconnaissance
Looking toward Mt Sharp.
Curiosity's mission objective:
to look at the layers in the
mountain and look for evidence
of potential habitation.
Curiosity's first colour image.
Looking over the wall of Gale
Crater, to the north of the
rover's position.

Would you like to drive your own Mars rover?

Meet MASL (Mars Autonomous Science Laboratory), the world's only 'Mars' rover made exclusively for secondary education.  The MASL program is designed for year 9 and 10 students, taking them behind the scenes of an unmanned mission where they take on the roles of mission controllers and guide the MASLrover on it's mission exploring the Red Planet.This mission can be carried out in your own school or in our Centre.  Students coming to the Centre will undertake a full day program including Mission Training, Laboratory Experiments and of course, driving MASL.Students undertaking the MASL mission will choose the landing site of their Rover via site selection, where they will study the 'final four' potential sites and make their case for the best landing site.  As students wait for MASL to land on Mars they will choose and qualify for a Mission Control role, then use their knowledge and skills to unlock Mar's secrets.


Mission Idea Contest Finalists Announced

Finalists Announced

The finalists for the 2nd Mission Idea Contest have been announced. Finalist receive funding to present their concepts at the UN/Japan Nanosatellites Conference in Nagoya, Japan 10th - 13th October, 2012. Congratulations to all the finalists and to the Australians who submitted applications. Final results will be announces in October.

Category 1: Mission Idea and Satellite Design





Abstract Title

Jared Bottoms


University of Alberta


Marcello Valdatta


University of Bologna - Second Faculty of Engineering - Space Robotic Laboratory

ADR Mission with small Satellite

Mary Knapp


Massachusetts Institute of Technology

SOLARA/SARA: Solar Observing Low-frequency Array for Radio Astronomy/Separated Antennas Reconfigurable Array

Masashi Kamogawa


Tokyo Gakugei University and Keio University

Project of Micro-Satellite Constellation for Earthquake Precursor Study

Mike-Alec Kearney

South Africa

University of Stellenbosch

The OuterNet: A novel satellite communication relay constellation

Nil Angli


Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd

SWIMS - Short Wave Infrared Maritime Surveillance

Vu Bui


Nanyang Technological University

Nano-satellite constellation collecting global pre-earthquake signals for space-borne early earthquake detection





Abstract Title

Akira Doi


Space Systems Dynamics Laboratory, Kyushu University

IDEA(In-situ Debris Environment Awareness)

Dirk Van Merode


Lessius University College

LeSTAR ; Lessius Satellite for Teaching and Autonomous Research

J. Alonso


ETSIA Universidad Politecnica de Madrid

ASAT. "Ad Solis, Ad Terram"

Plamen Dankov


Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski," member of CASTRA


Ravit Sachasiri


Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency

Laser-Assisted Rain Control Constellation

Thomas Joslyn


United States Air Force Academy

Orbital Debris Mitigation

Category 2: Mission Idea and Business Model




Abstract Title

Ayokunle Ayeleso

South Africa

Cape Peninsula Univeresity of Technology

Underground and surface water detection and monitoring using a microsatellite.

Edgardo Macatulad


University of Philippines

Thermal Infrared Remote Sensing Using Nano-Satellites for Multiple Environmental Applications

Ragy Ismail



Global Tracking System





Abstract Title

Bhagyashri Telsang


Manipal Institute of Technology

Commercializing Weather Prediction

Mohamed Ibrahim


Kyushu Institute of Technology

Integrated Rescue Service Satellite (IRS-Sat)

Nader Gallah


University of Monastir

Satellite real time monitoring of water flood and quality in Tunisia

AIAA Regional Student Conference Call for Papers Open

AIAA Regional Student Conference Call for Papers Open

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) sponsors student conferences in each AIAA Region as a means to encourage students in aerospace related fields to discuss research, exchange knowledge, and generate interest in the field of aerospace engineering.

The 2012 conference will be held at the University of Adelaide 26th - 27th November. Students who are unable to present their paper in person have the opportunity to present their paper via video link. You must inform the conference organisers in advance if you want to make use of this option.

The AIAA Australian Regional Student Conference is an undergraduate competition with the following prizes sponsored by AIAA:

First place: $500 (USD) and a trip to the 50th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit January 2012, Nashville, TN USA (for one author)
Second Place: $300 (USD)
Third Place: $250 (USD)

Important dates:

Abstracts due: 26th October 2012
Papers due: 26th October 2012
Registration deadline: 26th October 2012
Conference date: 26th - 27th November 2012

For more information, competition guidelines and paper sublission visit the conference website. Please download a flyer and circulate this information to interested students.

I'm a Scientist Get me Out of Here! Registrations Close 27th July

Registrations for August Event Close 27th July

I'm a Scientist Get me Out of Here is on again! The allocation of scientists and schools for the next event which runs from 27th August - 7th September is in the final stages. This event will include a General zone, a Disease zone and an Agriculture zone. There's only two more days for schools to sign up and there are only a few spots available!

Register now by filling in the web form or clicking through to the information available at http://imascientist.org.au/teachers/.

Registrations close Friday 27th July.

The Australian Innovation Challenge

The Australian Innovation Challenge awards 2012 are now open for submissions. You can enter whether you’re a professional scientist or engineer, an educator or a creative genius inventing in your shed. Submit your innovation for an opportunity to be recognised in the nation’s leading newspaper and website, and for an opportunity to win a share of $70,000 in prize money.

Entries close August 12, 2012, so enter now* to inspire, invent and create. Visit the Innovation Challenge website for more information, guidelines and on-line submissions.

Professional categories (1–7)

1. Environment (Prize $5,000)
The environment category covers innovation, including clean energy technology, to help Australia reduce its carbon footprint and adapt to natural climate variability and global climate change. It also covers technology tackling problems in pollution control, biodiversity conservation, land degradation, and water conservation and quality. It includes breakthroughs in enabling technology such as nanotechnology and biotechnology.

2. Health (Prize $5,000)
The health category covers innovation in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, and in the improvement of Australians’ quality of life through good health. It includes breakthroughs in genetics, genomics, proteomics, biotechnology and nanotechnology, and the development of new drugs and medical devices.

3. Agriculture and food (Prize $5,000)
The agriculture and food category covers breakthroughs in food production and processing and in ways to safeguard the industry from invasive pests and exotic plant and animal diseases. It also covers biotechnology and nanotechnology.

4. Minerals and energy (Prize $5,000)
The minerals and energy category covers innovation in minerals and energy exploration, extraction and processing. It includes advances in biotechnology and nanotechnology.

5. Manufacturing and hi-tech design (Prize $5,000)
The manufacturing and high-tech design category covers innovation with the potential to make Australia’s manufacturing sector more efficient and competitive, to transform existing industries and to stimulate the creation of new industries and products. It also covers high-tech designs, either taken up in Australia or exported. It includes breakthroughs in textiles and in enabling technology such as nanotechnology and advanced materials.

6. ICT (Prize $5,000)
The ICT category covers innovation in digital technology, including systems with the potential to transform sectors such as data processing, communications, health, commerce, manufacturing and environmental protection.

7. Education (Prize $5,000)
The education category covers advances promising to strengthen Australia’s skills base, to ensure equity in education and to consolidate our position in the global education market. It includes new technology in teaching and learning.

Overall winner (Prize $25,000)

8. Backyard Innovation (Prize $10,000)
The backyard innovation category covers inventions by the general public that are not yet on the market but are at an advanced stage, with a prototype, if relevant. It includes inventions with the potential to make a difference to our lifestyles, environment, work and play, ranging from better domestic appliances to clever agricultural or construction technology.

Swinburne University: State of the Universe II

Swinburne University Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing
State of the Universe II

Join your host, Dr Christopher Fluke and astronomers from Swinburne's Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing in a fun evening as they as they take stock of the State of the Universe after another big year for astronomy.

We've seen the last transit of Venus until 2117, celebrated Australia's role in the Nobel Prize in Physics, and heard where the Square Kilometre Array will be built. You can be sure they will be discussing some Dark Matters with plenty of Dark Energy – with prizes to give away!

Just how many new discoveries can they fit into one evening?

When: Monday 13 Aug 2012 6:30pm - 7:30pm

Where: Advanced Technologies Centre, 427- 451 Burwood Road (corner of John St) 

Cost: Free (Registration is essential. Please use the online form)