Bitterroot College Celebrates Space Programs

February 10, 2017

MISSOULA – Bitterroot College of the University of Montana will host “Introducing MSGC, the Eclipse Ballooning Project and How You Can Get Involved!” at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16.

The event will celebrate new student opportunities with NASA programs and will take place in Room 119 at Bitterroot College UM, located at 103 S. Ninth St. in Hamilton. Bitterroot College students, faculty and staff, as well as any business, industry, nonprofit and private mentors in STEM fields are encouraged to attend.

Established in 1991, NASA’s Montana Space Grant Consortium comprises higher education, business, industry and nonprofit organizations that promote a strong science, math and technology base in the state. MSGC awards fellowships, stipends and scholarships to students pursuing aeronautical or space-related studies at all member campuses and has a yearly competition for research initiation, as well as educational enhancement grants for faculty. The consortium carries out additional undergraduate research, K-12 teacher enhancement, and pre-college and public outreach programs through its central office and affiliate campuses.

Kate Stocker, a UM post-baccalaureate student in the physics program, initially became involved with MSGC as a sophomore studying the governing processes of solar flares at Montana State University. After she was introduced to MSU’s MSGC director Angela Des Jardins, she conducted additional student research and helped plan an upcoming eclipse project.

“I didn’t know where I was going or how to get involved,” Stocker said. “Then I met Angela and the MSGC team, and everything else has been structured around that day."

One of MSGC’s current programs is the high altitude ballooning program, or the Balloon Outreach, Research, Exploration and Landscape Imaging System. Through BOREALIS, students from multiple disciplines work together to conceive, design and build scientific payloads that are flown up to 100,000 feet – the edge of space – using high altitude balloons. BOREALIS has two complete ballooning programs at UM and MSU.

On Aug. 21, Montana students associated with BOREALIS will take part in high altitude balloon flights with over 60 other teams at locations across the total solar eclipse path, from Oregon to South Carolina, and send live videos, images and atmospheric data from near space to the NASA website.

The event will bring together students from both the high altitude ballooning project and the radiosonde project.

For more information on MSGC, call Jennifer Fowler, MSGC assistant director, at 406-396-8085, email or visit


Contact: Jennifer Fowler, NASA Montana Space Grant Consortium assistant director, 406-396-8085,