CARIBOU, Maine — Caribou students will have an opportunity to ask Caribou native and NASA Astronaut Jessica Meir questions via in-flight education downlink on Oct. 29 at the Caribou Performing Arts Center.
The event is not open to the public because there is limited seating, however the Caribou Wellness and Recreation Center plans to host a stream of the downlink, which can be viewed via NASA’s YouTube channel.
Out of more than 200 downlink proposals, NASA approved Caribou and only nine others in the country.
Caribou High School Principal Travis Barnes said the process began about a year ago when he first discovered Meir would have a chance to go to the space station. Barnes said he had communicated with Meir via email and that she was “very interested” in speaking with Caribou students via the uplink.
From there, Barnes learned that a lengthy proposal needed to be prepared in order for students to have this opportunity and, after attending a webinar on the topic, he quickly realized that the task was far too daunting for just one or two people and subsequently formed a committee.
This committee, which later grew in size to help coordinate events leading up to the Oct. 29 downlink, first consisted of eight members all tasked with handling different sections of the proposal including the outreach plan, coordination of community events, and an impact statement summarizing why the downlink is important for students and the community as a whole.
According to Caribou’s impact statement, an important aspect of the downlink is to inspire students to reach for their dreams. Meir, in her Caribou High School yearbook, wrote that her future goal was to “go on a spacewalk,” and one theme highlighted for students in the coming weeks will be to ask them “What is your spacewalk?”
Several community events are planned leading up to the downlink. The recreation center will host a sun observation event at 3 p.m. Oct. 3, a “Galactic LEGO Night” at 6 p.m. Oct. 11 and an “I Love You to the Moon & Back” rustic sign creation event at 6 p.m. Oct. 14. The Nylander Museum is also planning a series of space-related events in October.
Numerous activities will be held for Caribou students on Oct. 28 and 29, focusing on goal-setting and allowing students to experience myriad opportunities to help them create their own goals and learn how to achieve them.
As of Sept. 30, a specific time has not been set for the downlink, but NASA indicated that it will be between 9 and 11 a.m. A specific time will be provided to the city Oct. 17.