NASA passes on Palm Beach Gardens’ students asteroid chipper

The Palm Beach State College Astrocats describe their rock chip sampling device, which they dubbed the Panther Claw, in the BioScience Technology Complex at their Palm Beach Gardens campus Friday, Dec. 4, 2015. They find out Wednesday if they’ll be invited to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to test it. (Sarah Peters/The Palm Beach Post)

The Palm Beach State College Astrocats describe their rock chip sampling device, which they dubbed the Panther Claw, in the BioScience Technology Complex at their Palm Beach Gardens campus Friday, Dec. 4, 2015. (Sarah Peters/The Palm Beach Post)

NASA said, “No, thanks” on testing the device Palm Beach State College students made to chip asteroids, but it’s unlikely that’s the last you’ll see of them.

Students at the college’s Eissey campus from a variety of engineering disciplines took on the monumental task of creating the rock chipper in a few weeks for NASA’s Micro-g NExT challenge. They were competing with colleges and universities from across the country to score an invite to test the device at the Johnson Space Center this summer.

They found out Wednesday the didn’t make the cut. But the experience gave them the opportunity to learn to work as a team and collaborate with local aerospace professionals.

The tool they designed is an attachment to an air chisel that an astronaut in space could use to chip and contain dime-sized samples from asteroids.

Reviewers provided feedback on the six-person team’s proposal and encouraged them to submit a proposal next year.

Read more about their efforts here.

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