The Association of Space Explorers (ASE) is an international nonprofit professional and educational organization of over 395 individuals from 35 nations who have flown in space. Founded in 1985, ASE's mission is to provide a forum for professional dialogue among individuals who have flown in space, support space science and exploration for the benefit of all, promote education in science and engineering, foster greater environmental awareness, and encourage international cooperation in the human exploration of space.
Mission: to provide a forum for professional development and for the exchange of technical information among space flight professionals; to advocate international cooperation and operational compatibility in current and future space exploration endeavors:
ASE organizes a Planetary Congress to serve as a forum where members interact professionally and develop ASE programs. The week-long event generates communication on issues of common interest to the international space community, government agencies and the public. Members exchange information about their national space programs, make technical presentations on selected topics relevant to human space flight operations and visit with media and local communities to promote expanded awareness of the benefits of human space exploration.
ASE Near Earth Objects Committee
Human society faces a long-term hazard from asteroid and comet impacts on Earth. The chances are 100% that our planet will be struck again by a large near-Earth object (NEO), and we have discovered only a tiny fraction of the million or so objects capable of destroying a city. Recognizing the threat posed by hazardous NEOs, the ASE is active in promoting global discussions aimed at a near-term capability to prevent a future damaging impact.
The Association formed its Committee on Near Earth Objects at its Congress in Salt Lake City in October 2005. The Committee is charged with bringing to the attention of world leaders and key international institutions the threat of asteroid impacts to life on Earth. In an Open Letter of October 14, 2005, the ASE said, in part:
“Due to advances in both the discovery of these objects and in space technology we are aware of the unique fact that these infrequent cosmic collisions are, using advanced space technology, both predictable and preventable. This distinctive and providential characteristic of NEO impacts allows the prevention of these largest of natural disasters, if, and only if, national governments and relevant international institutions understand these inevitable events and act together to prevent their occurrence.”
Through its international expert Panel on Asteroid Threat Mitigation, the ASE quickly produced a decision-making proposal and a set of recommendations to help the international community address the impact threat. The plan went to the United Nations in 2008.
ASE recommended that the UN support Asteroid Warning and Information Sharing, Mission Operations Planning, and effective Authorization and Oversight functions. During the last five years, ASE and the United Nations discussed and refined these proposals. In October, 2013, the UN Committee On Peaceful Uses of Outer Space approved specific language authorizing and endorsing all three of these functions; the recommendations were also subsequently approved by the UN General Assembly.
Today, the Committee promotes inter-space agency planning for NEO deflection, and is active in United Nations discussions aimed at implementation of the ASE recommendations.
Mission: to inspire students to excellence in science, mathematics and engineering; to promote greater public awareness of the significant benefits of space science and exploration:
Inspiring & Enabling the Next Generation: A key component of ASE’s mission is to encourage and grow a technically knowledgeable and proficient future workforce, which is part of a new national education imperative to ensure our nation’s future economic and scientific prosperity.
ASE General and Legacy Scholarships: ASE offers scholarship programs to support undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and environmental-related fields. ASE Legacy Scholarships are established and funded by individual ASE members to support education in fields related to their personal and professional interests. ASE General Scholarships are established and funded by ASE in cooperation with accredited universities, other professional associations, and institutions of higher-learning world-wide.
ASE awarded its first international scholarship in 2013 to aerospace-engineering student Emmanuelle David for the International Space University Summer Space Studies Program. Also in 2013, ASE awarded its first US scholarship to senior mechanical engineering student David Sexton at the University of Alabama - Huntsville, in cooperation with the Marshall Spaceflight Center Retirees’ Association. ASE will continue to expand its scholarship offerings at additional US and international universities in 2014 and beyond.
ASE members visit schools, universities and youth groups world-wide and interact with thousands of teachers, parents and students each year. ASE continuously explores creative ways to engage and inspire the next generation of scientists, astronauts and engineers.
In 2014, ASE will partner with NanoSatisfi, Inc. to provide opportunities for high-school aged students to control a satellite experiment in space. Participants will engage with focused online course content, and will design and build their own programs to monitor any of the 20 sensors onboard, using a variety of real-time, online resources. This unique program is intended to drive students toward STEM education and careers and to give them hands on, project-based learning experience in multiple formats – in the classroom, through independent study, or via science clubs and other after-school activities.
Also in 2014, ASE will partner with the Virtual High School Collaborative (www.thevhscollaborative.org) to develop a virtual Space Station Academy. Using Windows on Earth as a conduit for citizen scientists to interact with astronaut Earth photography, the Space Station Academy will offer participants online training and virtual missions to the International Space Station, with learning about Earth systems and science as the core curriculum objective.
Windows on Earth
Windows on Earth is a revolutionary Earth observations software program developed in collaboration between ASE and the Technical Education Research Center (TERC). Launched to the International Space Station in September 2013, Windows on Earth has completed its on-orbit crew checkout and is now operational as one of the primary Earth observation tools in use by the astronauts.
The software displays Earth views matching the view from any window on the International Space Station. Astronaut-selected targets and daily updates for NASA’s Crew Earth Observation program are uplinked automatically via the Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Windows on Earth not only supports astronaut earth observations and photography, but will also provide a unique outreach tool for public engagement using Earth images to generate opportunities for students to engage in citizen science. It also contributes to the success of the earth observations goals of NASA, the astronauts and the international space station partnership.
Citizen Science: Windows on Earth will serve as a mechanism for citizen scientists to interact with astronaut Earth photography. All astronaut-generated imagery over the 50 year history of human spaceflight will be made available via web sites for students and the public. Special tools will be available enabling interested participants to assist with geo-referencing, annotating and submitting the images to a global database of earth photographs.
The four learning goals for the Windows on Earth Citizen Science program are 1) Earth literacy – learning about Earth’s processes and understanding Earth as a dynamic, integrated system; 2) Visual literacy – learning to work with visual information (Earth imagery) as a source of data; 3) Spirit of exploration – learning about the human experience in space; 4) Planetary stewardship – embracing and internalizing our connections with our home planet Earth and our collective role in preserving it.
Windows on Earth will also support the ASE/Virtual High School Collaborative Space Station Academy, offering participants online training and virtual missions to the International Space Station, with learning about Earth systems and science as the core curriculum objective.
Astronaut School Visits: It is a time-tested fact that astronauts are heroes to generations of Americans, adults and children alike. It is also true that many young people are inspired to excellence, in many subjects including science and math, because of the excitement generated by human space exploration. Astronaut visits, particularly when complemented by supporting classroom studies or curricula can serve as a mechanism to enhance student interest in science and math. NASA receives thousands of requests annually for astronaut appearances and is able to fulfill only a small fraction of them. Many of these unfulfilled requests are schools which do not have the resources to pay for an astronaut to visit. ASE–USA, in cooperation with the Astronaut Office, endeavors to fill as many of these requests as possible
United Nations: ASE maintains observer status with the U.N. Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and contributes the space travelers’ perspective to the Committee’s policy formulations and recommendations.
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