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Shuttle launch Will be Center Stage at UND open house Friday

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is scheduled to launch Space Shuttle Endeavour—STS-126—Friday at 6:55 p.m. Central Standard Time. The Shuttle will be carrying the UND-designed and -built Agricultural Camera (AgCam) for delivery to the International Space Station. AgCam is a high-tech specialty camera designed, built, and delivered to NASA by a team of UND students and faculty from several departments, including UMAC, Space Studies, and the School of Engineering and Mines. This is Shuttle mission number STS-126. This will be the third UND-connected space mission this year. (See AgCam background below. Web link: AgCam background and missionAgCam-designed and crafted to exacting NASA space flight standards by students from several UND departments, including space studies, engineering, and earth system science-will capture on-demand images of land and other topographic features across the upper Midwest. These images will be used as a decision support system resource by farmers, ranchers, tribal resource managers, and researchers. Among many other uses, AgCam multispectral images can be used to analyze crops, forest resources, and other plants. Educators also will have access to these images for in-classroom use as part of environmental, geography, and related curricula. The Agricultural Camera (AgCam) will take frequent images, in visible and infrared light, of vegetated areas on the Earth, principally of growing crops, rangeland, grasslands, forests, and wetlands in the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountain regions of the United States. Images will be delivered within two days directly to requesting farmers, ranchers, foresters, natural resource managers and tribal officials to help improve their environmental stewardship of the land for which they are responsible. Images will also be shared with educators for classroom use. The Agricultural Camera was built and will be operated primarily by UND students and faculty. AgCam has been in the making since 2001. When the multispectral camera is installed aboard the International Space Station, it will relay high resolution images of Earth in near-real time for use in agricultural and geological applications at the request of farmers, ranchers, foresters, natural resource managers, and tribal officials in the Upper Midwest Region. The student-run UND Science Operations Center (SOC) has been set up and will become operational in the coming months. From there, students will send commands to AgCam aboard the International Space Station to take photos and then process and deliver the images taken from space. The AgCam system will be operated from the UND Science Operations Center (SOC) in Clifford Hall (part of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences complex).

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