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Aerospace Team ONLINE

UPDATE # 2 - November 26, 1997

PART 1: Biographies and Field Journals
PART 2: Email Questions Which Get Personally Answered
PART 3: Web Chat with Estela Hernandez
PART 4: Building a new Radar Altimeter Model
PART 5: Subscribing and Unsubscribing


Aerospace Team Online provides a lot of reading material which will

bring to life the real world excitement of America's aerodynamic design
and research program.

Almost 25 biographies of the people involved are available, so far. Each
person tells a bit about their day-to-day responsibilities and their
(often convoluted) career path which led them to their present
position. Many articles include personal information like family
facts and hobbies. Others have details about the NASA person as a
youngster. This material puts a personal face on the action, and
tries to help your students visualize a path they might take to one
day work at NASA themselves.

Also, every week we will publish one or more so called "Field
Journals." These stories will describe in detail the work it takes to
make the shuttle and space station come to life. 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
NASA's aerodynamics design and research.

These materials are written at middle school or older reading levels.
We hope that these snippets of NASA's world will be useful as
reading exercises and to illustrate related topics within your


The opportunity to send email questions to the men and women of

NASA's Aerospace Team is available. In most cases, you will receive a
direct reply within 10 days to two weeks.

K-12 students and teachers can email questions to engineers,
scientists and support staff. This interaction will be supported by
a "Smart Filter" which protects the professional from Internet
overload by acting as a buffer. The actual email addresses of these
experts will remain unlisted. Also, repetitive questions will be
answered from an accumulating database of replies; thus the
valued interaction with the experts will be saved for original

We believe that the email Q&A service is a good compliment to
the bios, Field Journals and other materials. Students have an
opportunity to follow-up on any Aerospace Team Online information,
or they can pursue their own lines of interest.


We've had one chat already, and although it wasn't heavily attended,

we had some terrific questions asked and got some insightful answers. The
archive of past chats is now in place, and will be kept up to date.

The best part of chats, though, is being in touch LIVE with the expert, so
join us for an exciting hour of give and take about aeronautics and
related subjects.  Our upcoming chat will feature:

Tuesday, December 2, 10:00-11:00 a.m. Pacific Time:
Estela Hernandez, Flight Simulation Engineer,
Estela is works at the world's largest motion simulator.  Right now she's
working on a simulation for the Space Shuttle which the astronauts will
try flying in February. Read her bio at

To participate (ask questions), you will need to pre-register for the
individual chats. Go to:  http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/chats


by Estela Hernandez

November 24, 1997

The radar altimeter measures the altitude of an aircraft by measuring the
echo of a radio wave to return and the direction from which it returns.
The radar altimeter provides an accurate indication of altitude of the
Space Shuttle from 5,000 ft. to touchdown. We are trying to update the
Space Shuttle model to make the radar altimeter more accurate. Currently,
I am looking at the math model and trying to compare it to our Space
Shuttle simulation. This is being done at the same time as the
implementation of global positioning system (GPS).
Eventually, with both of these instruments working accurately the
astronauts will have more precise information.

The math required for the implementation of the model is basic calculus
and physics. This is how the model simulates the changes in altitude.

The scientists are NASA employees as well as contractors from Houston and
Los Angeles. The scientists design and check the model. Then, they send us
the model with their checks so we can match them with ours. This will
allow us to make sure that it is accurately modeled. This simulation will
take place in February when the astronauts will fly the new radar
altimeter model at the Vertical Motion Simulator. The astronauts will fly
approach and land usually starting at about 10,000 ft. As a simulation
engineer, one of my responsibility is to fly the simulator to make sure
everything is working property.

While the project is challenging it is also very interesting. If I run
into problems there is always someone who I can turn to for help.


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