Each crew member is assigned a partner on one of eight teams.
Communications Team (COM)
"Mission Control, this is the space station. Do you copy? Over?" COM Officers facilitate verbal communication between the two locations. They are skilled in reading and oral communications, and have the ability to work in high stress situations while remaining focused on specific tasks.
Data Team (DATA)
DATA Officers transfer all electronic messages between Mission Control and the space station, and access the research video library on demand. It sounds stress free until you realize that DATA Officers are transferring (and receiving!) messages from six other teams. DATA Officers rely on strong reading and oral communications and good organization skills.
Navigation Team (NAV)
Are we there yet? Navigation Officers can easily answer this one because they're responsible for navigating the spacecraft on its journey. They also coordinate launches and/or landings as the scenario requires. Navigation Officers have strong mathematics and reading skills, basic knowledge of coordinate geometry, basic knowledge of angle measurements, and an interest in astronomy.
Probe Team (PROBE)
As a member of the Probe Team, students assemble, deploy, and monitor one or more space probes launched during a mission. The position requires strong mechanical skills, proficiency in mathematics and reading, analytical problem solving, and deduction skills.
Medical Team (MED)
How does living in space affect the human body? Medical Officers are tasked with monitoring all spacecraft astronauts for auditory and visual response time, respiration rate, skin temperature, and heart rate. Skills required for this position include a strong interest in biology and proficiency in mathematics.
Remote Team (REM)
As members of the Remote Team, students work in a glovebox environment to analyze rock, mineral, and soil samples. Depending upon the mission, the REM Team also operates a robotic arm to collect rock samples for analysis.
Life Support Team (LS)
Life Support Team members take thermometer, barometer, and hygrometer readings. They also perform pH tests and TDS tests on the spacecraft water supply. The position requires strong problem solving skills and interest in environmental science and chemistry.
Isolation Team (ISO)
Isolation Team members use robotic arms to conduct research related to radioactivity, meteoroids, and hazardous materials.
The group is divided into two, with half of the students assigned to Mission Control while the others are transported to the space station. At the mission's midpoint, the partners exchange places so every student can experience both learning environments.
During the mission, students must accomplish specific tasks in order for the mission to be a success. Astronauts on board the space station build space probes, monitor life support functions, conduct experiments on items taken from the surfaces of Mars or the Moon, and plot navigation courses for the spacecraft.
Engineers at Mission Control support these endeavors by answering the astronauts' questions and providing necessary research. For the Navigation and Probe Teams, astronauts rely completely on the engineers' instructions and data necessary for them to complete their tasks.
When the mission is at full throttle, there is a flurry of messages between Mission Control and the space station heard over loud speakers. Electronic messages are sent back and forth. At any moment, emergency alarms and flashing lights may signal hazardous conditions for the astronauts that need to be fixed. Meanwhile, everyone must continue working toward to ensure that the mission's goal is accomplished.
The simulation provides students with numerous opportunities to apply the skills they've learned in the classroom. Even when they aren't necessarily aware that they're doing so, students are using principles of science and mathematics, as well as reading and communications skills to complete their mission.