AEROSPACE TEAM ONLINE
ATO #106 - April 28, 2000
QuestChats require pre-registration. Unless otherwise noted, registration is at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/chats/ Tuesday, May 2, 2000 10 - 11 AM Pacific Chat with Carolyn Mercer Carolyn Mercer has and continues to find ways to use lasers and light to measure aircraft performance during testing. Read her bio at http://quest.nasa.gov/aero/team/mercer.html Tuesday, May 9, 2000 9 - 10 AM Pacific Chat with Mary Reveley Mary Reveley works with a propulsion systems analysis systems group to determine how aircraft and engine designs will perform. measure aircraft performance during testing. Read her bio at http://quest.nasa.gov/aero/team/reveley.html
"Regimes of Flight" Regimes of Flight Art Contest, Grades 4-8 The entries are coming in! For more information go to http://quest.nasa.gov/aero/events/regimes/contest.html#art
[Editor's Note: Carolyn Mercer is a manager of researchers at NASA Glenn Research Center, in Cleveland, Ohio. The research she oversees studies how lasers can be used to obtain data about air, like how it moves, and the pressure it has above and below wings. Read her bio at http://quest.nasa.gov/aero/team/mercer.html ]
The Job of a NASA Aerospace/Optical Engineer
by Carolyn Mercer
March, 1999 I am an aerospace engineer and an optical engineer. I studied both aeronautics and optical physics, and I've spent most of my career inventing new ways to use lasers and light to measure aerodynamic properties like gas temperature and density. This is important because new aircraft designs need to be tested to make sure they'll work, and with lasers we can measure flows without disrupting them. Imagine trying to measure the velocity of wind going by your car window. You could stick a special probe called a pitot probe out your window to measure the pressure and infer the velocity (the old way), or you could shine a laser beam out the window and detect changes to the light to determine the velocity (the new way). There are pros and cons to both ways, and my job was to improve the capability of optical measurement techniques to make them work better, last longer, and cost less. Specifically, I worked to 1) measure the flow inside of internal combustion engines (like in cars) to test designs for improving fuel economy, 2) I co-invented a way to use structured laser illumination to measure the shape of solid surfaces for manufacturing processes, and 3) I invented a liquid crystal/laser device to measure fluid temperature, density, or concentration for microgravity science. I currently manage a group of thirteen researchers who are all inventing new ways to measure things using optics. One person is inventing a way to measure the air velocity inside an aircraft engine compressor operating at very high speeds, one is trying to measure the surface pressure on ice shapes that grow on airplane wings, others are measuring the chemical properties of combustion gases inside jet engines, others are developing electro-optic sensors for use on Mars, and still others are inventing ways to use optical fibers to measure the health of aerospace engines. My job is to make sure that these people are working on the right things to satisfy NASA's needs, to make sure they're doing a good job and to reward them for it, to secure the resources that they need to do their job, and to provide career growth opportunities for them. This involves meeting with NASA program managers to make sure that I understand the current Agency needs, meeting with managers in industry so I understand their needs and capabilities, meeting with the researchers so I understand what they're doing, filling out paper work to let my senior management know what's going on and to give credit to the researchers, and serving on various review boards. I also get to make presentations to groups of people to let them know about what we're up to.