BY BRUCE BRANUM
The Greenville Standard
Laura Smith Solomans was named earlier this year to the 2019 class of SETI Institute’s NASA Airborne Astronomical Infrared Observatory S.O.F.I.A.
Founded in 1984, SETI is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit scientific research institute which is headquartered in Mountaview, Cali., and a key research contractor to NASA and the Nation Science Foundation.
The SETI Institute partnered with 14 school districts in eight states for the 2019 NASA Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors (AAA) program.
The AAA program is a professional development opportunity for high school science teachers designed to improve science teaching & learning and increase student STEM engagement.
The SETI Institute is anchored by three centers: the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe (research), the Center for Education and the Center for Outreach.
SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and German Aerospace Center to develop and maintain the world’s largest airborne astronomical observatory where a modified Boeing 747SP airliner carries four to 17 ton telescopes depending on the mission with the potential to unravel fundamental questions about the creation and evolution of the universe, including star and planet formation, and the nature of the Black Hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.
Solomans was one of the 28 teachers selected from participating districts and teaches at Columbus High School in Columbus, GA.
She received experience and training in earth science, astrophysics, planetary, and heliophysics science at NASA’s Flight and Research Center in Las Vega, N.V., earlier this summer.
She participated in 10 hour overnight flight missions aboard NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).
Solomans is from Greenville and is a graduate of Auburn University with a Master from Columbus State University.
She is the daughter of the late E.B. and Anne Smith. She is married to Ken Solomons and the mother of Platt and Katherine Anne Solomons.
She is the daughter in law of Kenneth and Catherine Solomons.