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Release No. 96-014

For Release: Immediately

NASA Langley Story Opportunities - March

Understanding the Effects of Space Debris: The Mir Environmental Effects Payload (MEEP) will be attached to the Russian space station Mir during STS-76 in late March. MEEP will study the frequency and effects of space debris striking the Mir space station. MEEP will be attached to the Mir shuttle docking module during a spacewalk by mission specialists Godwin and Clifford. MEEP will remain attached to Mir until late 1997, when the four experiment containers will be retrieved by another space shuttle crew (STS-86) and returned to Earth for study. Photos, video, fact sheets and interviews are available.

PUBLIC AFFAIRS CONTACT: Catherine E. Watson (757) 864-6122

Aircraft Flow Images Available Via Internet. The first schlieren photographs to show shock waves around supersonic aircraft in flight are now available on the Internet. The two images show the shock waves - very strong sound waves - being generated by the aircraft flying at a distance of several miles. The schlieren technique uses a bright edged source of light - in this case, the edge of the sun - to detect regions of varying refraction to trace otherwise invisible pressure waves. The photos were taken with a ground telescope equipped with a special optical system. The technology will be useful for sonic boom and high-speed aerodynamic studies. Interview also available.

PUBLIC AFFAIRS CONTACT: Keith Henry (757) 864-6120

Lightweight Fuel Tank for Space Shuttle. NASA Langley researchers are conducting novel mechanical testing on a new lightweight aluminum alloy for the space shuttle's external tank. The engineers hope to develop a new material that will reduce the weight of the external tank by 8,000 pounds. Engineers are simulating flight loads on the lightweight tank to help designers better understand how the new lightweight aluminum alloy will perform during an actual shuttle flight. Interviews available.

PUBLIC AFFAIRS CONTACT: Ron Harvey (757) 864-6527

The Success of the Clementine Mission to the Moon. Air Force Colonel Pedro "Pete" Rustan, Director of the Small Satellite Development Office in the National Reconnaissance Office, will discuss the 1994 Clementine mission to the moon at 2 p.m. March 18 at the NASA Langley H.J.E. Reid Conference Center, Hampton, Va. Rustan, the Clementine mission director, will discuss why the Clementine program was started, how it was managed and the implications for future small satellite projects. Interviews are available.

PUBLIC AFFAIRS CONTACT: Catherine E. Watson (757) 864-6122

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