UPDATE #62 - April 30, 1999
QuestChats require pre-registration. Unless otherwise noted, registration is at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/chats/#chatting Quest celebrates SPACE DAY with SPECIAL CHAT SERIES!! May 6, 1999 8-1PM Take advantage of this unusual opportunity to chat with different classes and different times during the day. Thursday, May 6, 1999, 8 AM Pacific Daylight Time: Space Team Online/Female Frontiers QuestChat with Laura Hoppe Laura ensures that all instrumentation and communication officers (INCOs) fully prepare an orbiter's communication systems before another mission. Read Laura's profile prior to the chat: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/team/hoppe.html Thursday, May 6, 1999, 9 AM Pacific Daylight Time: Aerospace Team Online QuestChat with Grant Palmer, computational fluid dynamics engineer When a spacecraft such as the space shuttle returns to Earth from space, the friction caused by the air rushing past the surface of a vehicle causes it to heat up. Grant writes computer programs that predict how hot the vehicle surface will get. Grant's work is part of a larger process called computational fluid dynamics (CFD). His work is important because without CFD, spacecraft designers would have to guess how hot a vehicle would get. If their guesses are wrong, a vehicle would either be heavier than it had to be or get damaged when it returned to Earth. Read Grant Palmer's profile prior to joining this chat at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/team/palmer.html Thursday, May 6, 1999, 10 AM Pacific Daylight Time: Women of NASA/Female Frontiers QuestChat with Julie Mikula. Julie manages the Flight Simulation Laboratories (SimLab) Facility, which includes the world's largest motion base simulator -- the Vertical Motion Simulator. Read Julie's profile prior to the chat: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/frontiers/mikula.html Thursday, May 6, 1999, 11 AM Pacific Daylight Time: Space Scientists Online QuestChat with Sten Odenwald As a radio astronomer, Sten Odenwald enjoys sharing his research and love of space with kids from 9 to 99! Read Sten's profile prior to the chat: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/sso/team/odenwald.html Wednesday, May 12, 1999, 10 AM Pacific Daylight Time: Brent Nowlin, electrical operations engineer Brent works in a facility that tests the performance of medium- and large-scale gas turbines (like those used on commercial airliners). Brent is responsible for ensuring that instruments and control systems work properly in the turbine facility. He leads a team that is responsible for overseeing and conducting research testing on the facility. The goal of the testing is to increase the efficiency of the turbines. Read Brent Nowlin's profile prior to joining this chat at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/team/nowlin.html
Please return your survey! Please take a minute to complete the Aerospace Team Online Customer Survey and send it back as a reply, or if you prefer you may complete it online at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/customer.html Thanks for your help! - - - - - - - Congratulations to the Wright Flyer Online March Contest Winners! 1st - Robin Sloan, Cypress, CA 7th grade 2nd - David MacNaughton, Seattle, WA 6th grade 3rd - Mark Doering, 7th grade 1st place (K-3 division) Marie Cook, Misawa, Japan, Kindergarten Honorable mention Alison Colvin, Fillmore, Indiana, 6th grade Brittany Claveran, Sonora Elementary School, CA 6th grade Great Technical Writing- Morgan Carlise, Springville, TN 6th grade Most interesting use of simile - Minami Minami, Kobe, Japan, 4th grade Most interesting use of onomatopoeia - Phillipe Han, Kobe, Japan, 4th grade Most interesting use of figurative language - Cecil Lee, Kobe, Japan, 4th grade Best picture book - Danielle Cook, Misawa, Japan, 4th grade - - - - - - - Right Flying Colaborative Projects Several classes have shared their glider flight test results which are Online at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/events/collaborative/gliders/index.html Look for their final results which are beginning to appear at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/events/collaborative/final/ !
[Editor's Note: Grant Palmer uses computers to see how hot spacecraft get when the travel very fast back to earth. Read his profile at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/team/palmer.html ]
The Design of the Mars Airplane
by Grant Palmer
April 23, 1999 The idea for a Mars Airplane has been around since the 1960's. The purpose of it would be to explore the Mars countryside over a much wider range than a rover could and much closer up than from an orbiting satellite. Someone had the idea of flying a Mars Airplane to commenorate the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight on Earth, the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk. The NASA Administrator embraced the idea. This set off a frenzy of activity with several NASA centers trying to come up with the best idea for the Mars Airplane. Here at NASA Ames, there were three separate concepts that were analyzed. The first two were low-speed vehicles that would be flown to Mars inside a conventional space capsule. The capsule would enter the Martian atmosphere and when it had decelerated enough, the airplane would deploy. The third concept was for a supersonic airplane, meaning one that would fly faster than the speed of sound. The supersonic Mars Airplane would enter the atmosphere itself using advanced materials to keep the outer skin cool. This is the concept that I was asked to help analyze. I work in computational fluid dynamics. I write computer programs that calculate how the air, or in this case Martian atmosphere, flows over the body when it enters the atmosphere. Friction between the atmosphere and the surface of the vehicle causes the outer temperature of the vehicle to heat up. Part of my job is to see if the temperature will exceed the maximum temperature of the vehicle. The first thing I do is to generate a grid. The surface of the vehicle is broken up into individual squares. The computer program will compute the pressure and temperature in the center of each one of these squares. What I really is to generate a 3-D grid, meaning that the Mars Airplane is surrounded by cubes. Once I have my grid, I'm ready to run the program. I get the atmospheric conditions, velocity, density, temperature, from a trajectory expert. I set up the input parameters and start to run the computation. It takes a lot of computer time. The solution will require about 50 hours on the Cray C90 computer. The C90 is the world's largest supercomputer. In the old days, airplanes were built based on experiments and flight tests. With futuristic concepts such as the Supersonic Mars Airplane, you can't design it that way. There's no way to test the vehicle by experiment and you can't flight test it since Mars is so far away. The design of this type of vehicle will largely be done on computer.
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