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February 1, 2000
QuestChat with Gavin Botha

Aerospace Engineer
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA


Tue Feb 1 11:33:45 2000

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 5 - 10:06:13 ]
Hello to our early arriving chat participants. Today's Aerospace Team Online chat with Gavin Botha from NASA Ames Research Center will being in approximately 25 minutes. Be sure you have read Gavin's profile at http://quest.nasa.gov/aero/team/botha.html to prepare your questions.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 6 - 10:06:51 ]
Today's chat may be MODERATED to help Gavin keep up with our questions. This means we will post a few questions in the chat room at a time for Gavin to answer.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 7 - 10:07:30 ]
DON'T WORRY if you don't see your questions appear on your screen during moderation. We will post new questions as Gavin answers those already in the chat room.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 8 - 10:08:44 ]
At the conclusion of today's chat, we ask that you share thoughts with us. Be sure to visit our QuestChat Information Center at http://quest.nasa.gov/qchats and use our "Feedback" section to send your comments to us. We look forward to hearing from you!

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 9 - 10:29:59 ]
Hello and welcome to today's Aerospace Team Online chat with Gavin Botha from NASA Ames Research Center. Gavin Botha uses two of the world's largest wind tunnels to test full size aircraft. The wind tunnels are part of the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex, where Gavin is responsible for preparing existing aircraft, or specially built wind tunnel models, to be mounted inside the wind tunnels. He also monitors the testing and experimentation part of the program, to ensure everything functions properly.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 10 - 10:30:27 ]
And now, here is Gavin Botha to answer your questions.

[ GavinBotha/ARC - 14 - 10:37:47 ]
RE: [Bob] Hi! I wanted to ask you a question. I want to know hoe I can get a job in NASA when I grow up to adult. I also want to see VR image of the cockpit. P.S. VR=Virtual Reality
Good morning everyone, I am always pleased to have the chance to talk about our great full-scale wind tunnels here at NASA Ames. After all these are Government facilities, and belong to all of us. Thanks for your question Bob, NASA offers many different types of jobs that cover almost anything that you can think of, including virtual reality. The key to getting a job with NASA is to study hard in the field that you are interested in. NASA is always looking for smart, inventive minds with a good education. By the way Virtual Reality is a great field that is in big demand right now. Keep up the interest!

[ GavinBotha/ARC - 16 - 10:45:02 ]
RE: [Njuguna] Other than the Reynold number and mach number, what addditional parameters are important for the space shuttle upon return to earth from orbit? What are your comment as a user of both analogue and digital wind tunnels in terms of differences in the aquisation of data in regard to subsonic, transonic and hypersonic facilities?
Thanks Njuguna, In fact we have tested a 1/3 Scale model of the space shuttle in our Wind Tunnel. The space shuttle presents many challenging problems. During its initial re-entry, the primary issues are heating related. Thermodynamic testing is critical to make sure that the Space Shuttle survives the incredible heat. During the next phase the Space Shuttle is a very high-speed glider. Testing correct Mach numbers is important during this phase. The space shuttle does have to slow down to land, and during this phase testing at the correct Mach and Reynolds numbers together becomes important. Digital computations are still extremely difficult to model accurately. Wind Tunnels are very important to validate computational models in all flight regimes, especially low speed flight.

[ GavinBotha/ARC - 18 - 10:53:39 ]
If anyone has driven along hwy 101 through Mountain View, CA you probably have seen a very large strange looking structure over at Moffett Field. The structure I am referring to looks like a huge flat wall with a bell shaped curve behind it. This is the inlet for the works largest wind tunnel. We use this wind tunnel to test real aircraft. Can you imagine how big the wind tunnel fans must be to make enough wind to match a flying airplane?

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 20 - 10:56:53 ]
RE: [Kirsten] How many planes can you test at one time inside one of the big wind tunnels?
Welcome, Kirsten and Mrs. Choate's class. Gavin will answer your questions as soon as he can. Thank you for joining us today!

[ GavinBotha/ARC - 22 - 11:00:26 ]
Well, I will tell you a little about the fans that are needed to blow wind at over 300mph. There are a total of 6 fans. There are 2 rows each with 3 fans, stacked on top of each other. Each fan is about 40 feet tall! That's about the size of a 4 story building. Quite a bit bigger than the fans we use to keep ourselves cool during the summer:)

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 23 - 11:03:30 ]
As a reminder, please share your thoughts about today's chat, as well as learn about our upcoming chats, at http://quest.nasa.gov/qchats.

[ GavinBotha/ARC - 24 - 11:05:19 ]
RE: [Kirsten] How many planes can you test at one time inside one of the big wind tunnels?
Great question Kirsten, Normally we test only one thing at a time. But sometimes we need to know how 2 things interact with each other and that is when we would put more than one plane in the wind tunnel at a time. For example we have done testing to see what affects a big airliner has on a smaller airplane that follows in its air turbulence. For this test we had a model of a airliner and a smaller airplane behind, to measure the turbulence of the wings of the airliner.

[ GavinBotha/ARC - 26 - 11:09:57 ]
RE: [Dylan] Have you ever been hurt while working in a wind tunnel?
Ahhh, a future safety engineer:) Thanks Dylan, fortunately I have never been hurt. Safety is very important and we have very strict rules and procedures to keep everyone safe. The wind tunnel is designed so that we cannot turn on the air if someone is inside, and before we test anything in the wind tunnel, we have safety reviews to make sure we are being careful.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 28 - 11:14:14 ]
Mrs. Choate's class, we would like to invite you to participate in our two special chat series occurring this month: Black History Month and National Engineers' Week. Please check the QuestChat Information Center at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats for more information about these special events. We hope you can join us!

[ GavinBotha/ARC - 29 - 11:15:05 ]
There are a lot of really "cool" things we do here at Ames, and we love to show them off. If you are interested in learning more about what we do, you should find out about getting a tour of NASA Ames. If you are really interested in something specific like wind tunnels, virtual reality, or even simulators, you can arrange for special tours. Anyone can contact me directly at any time if you would to arrange a visit to the full scale wind tunnels.

[ GavinBotha/ARC - 30 - 11:20:24 ]
RE: [Kyle] What is the fastest speed the wind can go in a wind tunnel?
Hi Kyle, Wind tunnels come in all different sizes and speeds. We have some very fast wind tunnels that can go over 5 times the speed of sound. These are used for testing very fast airplanes, and missiles, and things like the space shuttle. But even the fastest planes need to land and take off, which happens at slow speeds. Landing and take off is very important so low speed wind tunnels are used for these conditions. The maximum speed of the world's largest wind tunnel here at Ames is about 100mph, and the speed of the slightly smaller wind tunnel is 300mph. This is perfect for testing slower speed airplanes and helicopters.

[ GavinBotha/ARC - 33 - 11:23:13 ]
RE: [Cheston] Do you ever put snow inside a wind tunnel to do experiements?
Hi Cheston, Interesting question. While we have never actually tested snow, we have done some experiments with icing. We needed to know what happens when ice forms on an airplane wing, so we did some experimenting to see the differences of a clean wing, and then one with ice on it. Snow does seem like fun though!

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 35 - 11:29:23 ]
This concludes today's Aerospace Team Online chat with Gavin Botha from NASA Ames Research Center. We would like to thank everyone for joining us today, and offer our special thanks to Gavin Botha for sharing his time and career experience with us online today. Thank you, Gavin!

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 36 - 11:29:49 ]
As a final reminder, please send your feedback to us at http://quest.nasa.gov/qchats.

[ GavinBotha/ARC - 37 - 11:30:30 ]
Thanks for all the great questions, If you are interested in seeing some photos of the wind tunnels and some of our test vehicles, then take a look at the URL I have listed

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 38 - 11:30:50 ]
Be sure to join us for our upcoming Black History Month and National Engineers' Week chats this month. More information about these special series of chats is available on the QuestChat Information Center, at http://quest.nasa.gov/qchats.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 39 - 11:33:29 ]
Once again, thank you for joining us today, and have a good day.

 
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