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Robertsville Middle School's 'RamSat' lets students shoot for the stars

The satellite will study the foliage growth in the Gatlinburg area from the wildfires in 2016.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — Oak Ridge is a city founded on science and technology.

It should be no surprise that Robertsville Middle School is ahead of the curve when it comes to giving their students experiences early on.

Several years ago, the middle school applied for the CubeSat launch initiative. Getting the opportunity, students and teachers wasted no time getting started. 

Middle school students were introduced to the project while at Robertsville, but many continued to contribute when they went on to Oak Ridge High School. For one of those students, participating in the project was an opportunity that he couldn't pass up.

   

"Not every kid in America gets this opportunity. This is always something that I'm going to take with me throughout life," Adler Keehn said.

The group of students and faculty have worked with NASA to get their project ready over the past several years. 

The students have helped to build a satellite that will be launched via SpaceX in early June. 

Not only has RamSat helped a hard-working group of students learn about science and technology, but it will also help scientists learn more about East Tennessee.

"It is intended to study the foliage growth in the Gatlinburg area from the fires several years ago," said Patrick Hull, a former Oak Ridge student and current NASA aerospace engineer.

Equipped with two cameras, RamSat will look at the area around Gatlinburg using a two-camera approach. One camera will be able to see colors, while the other will use infrared technology.

"The infrared will be able to look at the different soil levels and how well vegetation is growing," Keehn said.

The project highlights the potential of local students while helping to ensure East Tennessee is well-represented in the science and technology fields going forward.

"Not only is it valuable for the kids, it's valuable for the scientific community," Hull said.

This isn't the only time Oak Ridge has had ties to space exploration. Check these out: