Debbie V. Nguyen
Johnson Space Center, Houston
Oct. 5, 2006
NASA Seeks Undergrads to Experiment in Lunar and Zero Gravity
NASA is calling on college undergraduates interested in performing reduced gravity experiments onboard the agency's "Weightless Wonder" aircraft to submit their proposals by Monday, Oct. 30.
The Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, has given undergraduate teams the chance to research, design, fabricate, fly and evaluate reduced gravity experiments annually since 1995. This will be the first time students can design their experiment for lunar gravity, which is one-sixth of Earth's.
NASA's modified McDonnell Douglas DC-9 jet aircraft will give flyers the feel of space, as it performs a series of steep climbs and freefalls over the Gulf of Mexico, creating multiple periods of reduced gravity. Each parabolic maneuver produces about 25 seconds of weightlessness, and by changing its flight path, the jet can produce periods of lunar gravity.
"These students will be the ones helping to design our trips back to the moon and beyond," said Donn Sickorez, university affairs officer at Johnson. "By putting them through the same procedures as our space research scientists and providing them with a three-dimensional reduced gravity laboratory, we're better preparing students for these future missions."
Each proposal will be evaluated for technical merit, safety and an outreach plan. The selected proposals will be announced Dec. 11 and flown in 2007. Selected teams may also invite a full-time, accredited journalist to participate with them to document the experience.
With this project, NASA continues the agency's tradition of investing in the nation's education programs. It is directly tied the agency's major education goal of strengthening NASA and the nation's future workforce. Through this and other college and university programs, NASA will identify and develop the critical skills and capabilities needed to achieve the Vision for Space Exploration.
For more information about the Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program or submitting a proposal, contact Mat Bartley at: 281-483-7185; or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
; or visit: http://microgravityuniversity.jsc.nasa.gov
For information about NASA and agency programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/home
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