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UPDATE #48 - January 22, 1999

PART 1: Upcoming Chats
PART 2: Project News
PART 3: Say Bal Cal Lab ten times Fast!
PART 4: Subscribing & Unsubscribing: How to do it


QuestChats require pre-registration. Unless otherwise noted, registration
is at:  http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/chats

Tuesday, January 26, 1999, 10 AM Pacific Standard Time: Rabi Mehta, senior
research scientist

Rabi is interested in wind tunnel design and sports ball
aerodynamics. He has helped with the renovation of the Ames including the
12' wind tunnel renovation project. His interests have encouraged him to
study how baseballs, golf balls, and tennis balls fly, and what affects
them during flight. Currently, he is writing a book called "The
Aerodynamics of Cricket Ball," and is involved research in which special
paints are used to measure pressures on the surfaces of models.

Read Rabi Mehta's autobiography prior to joining this chat.

Plan ahead for February Black History Chats
February is Black History Month. To celebrate, NASA Quest will host a
series of chats with African American scientists and engineers who
contribute their work to the missions and goals of NASA. Below is the
current schedule which may be added to over time.  The chat sessions begin
on Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 2:30 p.m. EST with Dr. Aprille Ericsson-Jackson,
an aerospace engineer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt,

Thursday, February 4, 1999, 12:30 PM Pacific Standard Time: Anne
Corwin, engineering aide
In addition to being an intern and a full-time student, Anne assists the
staff of the 40x80- and 80x120-foot wind tunnels with anything they need
help with. So lately she's very busy getting ready for the Wright Flyer
Wind Tunnel Test.

Read Anne Corwin's autobiography prior to joining this chat.

Tuesday, February 9, 1999, 10 AM Pacific Standard Time: Chris Lockwood,
lead engineer, Balance Calibration Lab
 Chris works with a team of four engineers who meet with principal
investigators or test engineers responsible for conducting tests of models
in wind tunnels. Chris' team is responsible for ensuring that all the
loads going to wind  tunnel balances are measured accurately. They must
also make sure that data are processed and equations provided to
allow wind tunnel engineers to determine what is happening to a model.

Read Chris Lockwood's autobiography prior to joining this chat.


Wednesday, February 10, 1999, 10 AM Pacific Standard Time: Tom
Glasgow, materials scientist
For the past several years, Tom has helped design experiments and
equipment for space shuttle microgravity science experiments. He has also
helped develop new materials for jet engines and rocket motors, and
invented a new rocket engine material that stands up to 6000 degree F
combustion temperature.

Read Tom Glasgow's autobiography prior to joining this chat.


Collaborative Events!

Several new aeronautics projects have students working collaboratively
online. One activity is targeted for elementary and middle school classes.
Two others will be for high school or junior high school kids. These
higher end activities might not be done as an entire class; other users
may include science clubs, GATE kids or science fair folk. 

The ELEMENTARY / MIDDLE SCHOOL - Right Flying: students improve glider
designs. Next session starts in February. 

The HIGH SCHOOL / JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL - Free Flight Analysis:students
analyze glider flight with imaging techniques. Next session starts in

and HIGH SCHOOL / JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL - Wind Tunnel Online Design students
work together to design small wind tunnels. Session has begun but late
comers are welcome. 

For more detailed summaries of these three activities, go to 

- - - - - - - 

Teacher Chat on Wind Tunnel Data Lessons

Recognizing that some teachers might have some questions about the Wind
Tunnel Data Lessons, 
we are planning a chat with Suzanne Ashby, Curriculum Specialist who has
written some of the data lessons. We are asking for your suggestions as to
what time of day would work for you. The chat is currently planned for
February 23, 1999. We would also be interested in any particular questions
you want answered during the event. Send your time suggestions and topic
questions to slee@mail.arc.nasa.gov We'll try to get your questions

- - - - - - 

January Art Contest for Grades 1-8
Looking for an outlet for your (students) artistic talents?
Start with a line drawing of the Wright Flyer and create a drawing in the
style of Wassily Kandinsky, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, or Andy Warhol.
We can't wait to see what you come up with!!!

For details go to


- - - - - - -

1903 Wright Flyer Model Status

Actuators, Dust, Rollstop and the Press

No this is not the latest rock and roll band,it's just some of the
test preparations being made!!

Actuators are devices designed to create motion. Last weekend the AIAA
Wright Flyer Team came to NASA Ames Research Center to work the
actuators that will move the canard, the rudder and make the wings move or
twist. These will be controlled remotely in the "Control Room" of the Wind
Tunnel using a control panel built by the AIAA members.

Marilyn Ramsey shared this news:
"I am not sure it has sunk in as yet, as to how close we are to the test!

On  2/13, we have scheduled our final power test before going into the
tunnel.  That will be a loooooong day.  The last time, I think everyone
came in at 8:00 am, and we finally sent out for pizza at about 2:00 p.m.!
think we finished at around 4:30 p.m..

I vacuumed the airplane (for the first time since the trip from Los
Angeles) last weekend, and it is white again!  I just have to finish up
the one side of the top wing.  I was kidding with one of the guys.
(Picture the airplane wind tunnel test tape playing back on a TV news
station.  The commentator says, "We are now going to see the Wright Flyer
wind tunnel test........  Uhhh, we seem to be experiencing a little fog,
and it should be clearing momentarily".......)  That's how dusty it was!
Turn those fans on and we would have a white out!  ;-)"

The rollstop design was finalized and sent to the metals shop to be
fabricated. This will prevent the model from rolling too far.

The public affairs office it beginning to plan for a day when the press
can come see the Wright Flyer. Look for it on you local news in early

[Editor's Note: This is one of my journals. Everyone else is too busy to jot one down this week.]


by Susan Lee

January 22, 1999

Just before Christmas I went over to the Balance Calibration Laboratory
with my two high school interns in tow. See their version of this visit at
http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/wright/tunnels/balcallab.html  We wanted
to see if we could get some video tape of the laboratory and the automatic
calibration machine.  One of the students was interested in video on the
Internet and this was her chance.

Most people say that the balance works like the bathroom scales.  It's a
little bit more complicated than that. Scott Lijon showed us some of the
strain gages that will be used for the Wright Flyer Test.  These looked
like little metal tubes with tiny multi-colored metal wires coming
out of them. Phil Luan explained to us that one of the gages measures
normal forces, and another measures axial force. These will be translated
into lift and drag of the airplane.  This information is relayed as an
electrical signal that gets translated by software into pounds (lbs.) of
lift and drag.  Altogether the 6 gages in the balance will measure lift,
drag, and side forces as well as pitch, yaw and roll. Basically if you
make these measurements you will know if the plane will fly and when it
will stall and how to operate it safely, like whether it has enough lift
to carry elephants or just people.

They had lots of different balances there; each is designed to work within
different ranges of measurement. Think of this as the difference between a
baby's scale and a grown-up's scale.

So what's all this about calibration? Phil explained that they
want to make sure that the measurements made by the balance are accurate
and repeatable. That means they can trust the results they get in the wind

How can they be sure that the balance measures 100 lbs. of weight  as 100
lbs. of weight?
They have metal disks that they hang from the balance. They know how much
each disk weighs and then they check the measurement the balance makes.

Well if that wasn't exciting enough, they have built a new machine that
uses actuators (a device designed to create motion, "little
push-and-pullers" if you will) to test the balance. This is one of the new
wonders of modern science. They won't have to hang weights from the
balance they will be able to just put it in the automatic calibration
machine and test away!!

The good news is: we expect to get accurate measurements for the Wright
Flyer test when we turn on the wind in the wind tunnel.  I wonder how the
model will hold up. Here's hoping it comes through with flying colors!!


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