AEROSPACE TEAM ONLINE
ATO #113 - July 7, 2000
Beat the Heat: Thermal Protection Chats! We will be chatting and with researchers from the Space Technology Division at NASA Ames Research Center. I think you will find this fascinating and a worthwhile topic. This will introduce you to the topic of materials for thermal protection and the use of computer models for predicting the heat generated by vehicles entering different planetary atmospheres. This is a very important topic for those of you who plan to travel in space in the near future. Tuesday, July 11, 2000 10 AM Pacific Christine Johnson, Researcher, Christine has been doing tests on thermal protection materials that can be made into flexible materials which can be made into thermal blankets, not the kind you sleep with but the kind they wrap over the top of shuttle. How's that for cool? Read her bio at http://quest.nasa.gov/aero/team/cjohnson.html Tuesday, July 25, 2000, 1:00 - 2:00 PM Pacific Aerospace Team Online QuestChat with Grant Palmer When an aerospace vehicle like the Space Shuttle returns to Earth from space, the friction caused by the air rushing past the surface of the vehilcle causes it to heat up. Grant Palmer writes computer programs that predict how hot these vehicle surfaces will get. Read his bio at http://quest.nasa.gov/aero/team/palmer.html Tuesday, August 8, 2000, 10 - 11 AM Pacific Aerospace Team Online QuestChat with Chuck Cornelison Chuck Cornelison, Ballistics Range Manager The ballistics range is the opposite of a wind tunnel. Instead of blowing air over an object, objects are fired by guns through still air. Learn all about it!
NEW PROJECTS FOR FALL
Virtual Skies is an air traffic management project for students and teachers in Grades 9-12. It will be a "project based learning activity" with hands on multimedia to enhance student decision making and problem solving skills. Topics to be covered include Aviation Navigation, Aviation Weather, Communication Air Traffic Management, Airport Design, and Air Traffic Research. Materials will be tied to the National Standards in Mathematics, Science, Technology, Geography and Language Arts. Stay tuned for more news as we crank up over the summer! Planetary Flight is an aerospace project for Grades 4-8. (more reason to attend summer chats). We know how to fly on Earth but what will it take to fly on Mars. This will be an inquiry based learning project to design an airplane to fly on Mars. The stuff dreams are made of!! We will also be keeping you posted on this one this summer.
WORKING WITH COOL MATERIALS
By Christine Johnson July 7, 2000 I work in the Thermal Protection Materials and Systems Branch at NASA Ames Research Center. I primarily work in two areas - ablator and felt Thermal Protection Systems (TPS). A TPS material protects a spacecraft from the intense heat when it enters another planet's atmosphere or when the spacecraft returns into earth'9s atmosphere. Ablator materials can withstand very high heating environments as they dissipate the heat by actually losing some of the material. We have developed very lightweight ablator TPS materials that have been used on recent missions. One material was used on Mars Pathfinder and another is on the Stardust spacecraft, which is currently collecting dust from a comet and will bring it back to earth in 2006. My daily work with these materials includes building test models to test in NASA Ames arc jet test facilities. Arc jet test facilities can simulate the intense heating environment these materials will experience. We test a lot of models to get a sense of how the material will behave and if we need to do some additional development work. They are several upcoming Mars missions in the planning stages, so I support those efforts by helping in designing the TPS for that particular mission and conducting the arc jet tests. Felt TPS materials are currently used on the Space Shuttle and almost resemble a carpet in some ways. You can roll it out, cut it to shape, and even walk on it. It is lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to maintain. These are all great qualities for a TPS, so we are currently working on developing a felt TPS that can withstand much higher temperatures than the one used on the Space Shuttle. This way, it can be used in a lot more places on the vehicle. We are currently working in the laboratory on small pieces of these materials and will be arc jet testing them soon to see how well they perform.