UPDATE # 1 - November 10, 1997
Welcome to the "Aerospace Team Online" project!
Although this is designed principally as a project for pre-college classrooms, everybody is welcome. In addition to this maillist, a rich web site is available at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero Please visit! Over the next seven months, you will receive a unique perspective on the Aeronautics Design and Research. We have recruited 25 people, so far, who work in Aeronautics. These folks have a fascinating story to tell. Aerospace Team Online will bring you into flight simulators and wind tunnels to see NASA employees doing aerodynamic design research. You will hear from the engineers, technicians, mechanics and designers working to make tomorrow's planes safer, more efficient, quieter, and faster. We'll look over their shoulders as they operate flight simulations, prepare models for wind tunnel tests, run tests, analyze data, compute fluid dynamic models and more. The biographies are like puzzle pieces, together with the background section on the Web site and the email Question and Answers you will gain an understanding of the big picture of Aeronautics Design. Through this mailing list, you'll receive a series of Field Journals which will describe in detail the work areas above. The format will vary, and may include "what I did today" or "a problem I recently solved" or a "problem I wish I could solve" or "my goals for the next month." Regardless of the style, the stories should help you and your students understand the diversity of skills and people needed for Aeronautics Design and Research. Think of the journals as clues on how to fit the puzzle pieces together. These Field Journals will be delivered via this updates-aero mailing list about once per week. This mailing list will also include information about the Aerospace Team Online project. For example we'll begin hosting a series of live events like Web chats with the Aerospace Team folks. Announcements about these events and other similar opportunities will be shared via this mailing list. In addition, curriculum supplements about aerodynamics will be available to help teachers incorporate the lessons of aero design into their classrooms. Student-to-student interactions will be facilitated through an email debate about design competition entries. We hope a lively debate will ensue about the various ideas and towards the end, real NASA experts will share their thoughts about the suggested designs. Finally, an area on the Web will be reserved to display student work relating to aerodynamics. Stay tuned to this maillist and the Aerospace Team Online web site for further information about these activities. Throughout the Aerospace Team Online project, our team is interested in receiving your ideas and feedback. Send any comments to email@example.com A solid group of people have helped to make Aerospace Team Online a reality. We are grateful to our dedicated online teammates for their contributions. Credit details can be found on the web, but for now we'd like to especially acknowledge the following people: NASA Ames Aeronautics Directorate: George and Leslie Ames Research Center : Liza, Tom, Herb, Jeff, all the team members, Keith, Chris and Ernest. We hope that this will prove to be an exciting learning resource for you and your students. We think it will be a great ride. So fasten your seat belts. Aerospace Team Online has been cleared for take off! Sincerely, Susan Lee NASA K-12 Internet Initiative
WEB CHAT WITH NASA EXPERT
A series of online chats with NASA experts is being planned. These chats will let students connect live with interesting aeronautics design people. To chat, we'll be using a system called Web chat which lets you type brief thoughts while others are doing the same thing. To participate, you need only have access to a modern web browser (like Netscape or Internet Explorer). Our first Web chat with NASA expert Chris Sweeney is scheduled for November 11 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Pacific. Chris is a flight simulation engineer at the Vertical Motion Simulator at Ames Research Center. He says "It's like playing a giant video game with real aircraft and you get to program what can happen." If you plan to chat, you must register for the event. Sign up now by filling out the form from the link at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/chats/ This registration is very important, since it will allow us to ensure that the chat room does not become too crowded. For more details, and for the future schedule, please visit: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/chats/
[Editor's note: Chris is a flight simulation engineer at the Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS) at Ames Research Center. It is the world's largest motion simulator. Chris programs the simulations and then tests them to make sure they work.]
HOW TO BUILD A FLIGHT SIMULATION
http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/team/sweeney.html October 17, 1997 My job involves putting different pieces of an aircraft together on a computer. If we are working with an aircraft that has not been simulated at the Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS), a brand new architecture, we receive a mathematical description of the model. This includes an aerodynamic database from wind tunnel tests, block diagrams describing the flight control system, equations describing the guidance and navigation system of the aircraft, and models of whatever means of propulsion the aircraft has, an engine for an airplane, or a rotor in the case of a helicopter. We take all the information and write, in FORTRAN computer language, the software code to describe the aircraft, flight controls, guidance system, navigation systems, and propulsion system. We reformat the aerodynamic data to read out during the real-time simulation. We check the correctness of each separate system first, then integrate the code of all the systems for the aircraft. We do a full closed-loop test of the entire aircraft to make sure the computer model works the way the real aircraft or the potential aircraft is designed to work. This part of the project can take 6-8 months for a new aircraft and 2-3 months for an aircraft we have already simulated. Next, we integrate the model into the lab and the cab, the VMS "cockpit" or flight deck, of our aircraft making sure the controls the pilot will use work correctly in our model, so when the pilot moves the stick, the aircraft responds correctly. We make sure we have simulated the sound the pilots would hear and the out-the-window scene the pilots would see if they were looking into the real world. We check the displays the pilot looks at in the flight deck and the Head Up Display (HUD) if the aircraft has one. When all of these parts of the simulation have been integrated, we run some more flight checks, then the pilots come in and fly. They check the model to ensure it represents the real aircraft, and then for six weeks we run the simulation itself. Pilots and researchers come and fly various tasks depending on the research goals for the project, and we collect data for the researchers to analyze. Post simulation documentation is the next step. This includes report writing and collecting all the pertinent information on how and why we did certain things in the model. This documentation fills a couple of binders and is available in case the same aircraft needs to be simulated again. Another flight simulation engineer can then reuse the applicable parts of the model.
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