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NASA Glenn News in Brief

Second Quarter of 1999

Media inquiries should be direct to the Media Relations Office at 216/433-2901.

May 7, 1999, will be remembered as one of the defining moments in the history of NASA Lewis Research Center as employees, retirees and invited guests gathered to rededicate the facility as the John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field. Senator John Glenn and his wife, Annie Glenn, NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin, Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Senator Michael DeWine, who last year proposed the idea to honor the astronaut hero in this way, joined in the celebration that included a ceremony, a parade and a party in the streets.


NASA hopes to mark the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' historic first flight with a mission just as revolutionary-an airplane aloft over Mars. A team of researchers at NASA Glenn is part of a larger contingent of visionaries across the country working to bring the dream to life. The team is developing the propulsion, power and communication systems for the unpiloted "Mars Flyer" that could soar over the surface of the planet unlike any spacecraft. Although the plane's precise mission and design are yet to be decided, the proposed $90 million project is already inspiring people to ponder the possibilities of flight on another planet.


Cleveland's Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA) is taking the nation by storm. The 6-year-old program, a joint venture between Glenn and Cuyahoga Community College to excite underserved youth about high-tech careers, was most recently replicated at Fernbank Science Center, Atlanta, GA, and at Fenger Academy, Chicago, IL. The new SEMAA sites, and the five others across the country, provide a nurturing environment that fosters self-esteem and encourages discovery through age appropriate curricula using hands-on science, engineering and math activities.


The Glenn workforce is composed of talented individuals who strive for excellence in their professional and personal lives. Here are a few employees who were recently recognized for their outstanding achievements. John Hamley, Michael Patterson, Vince Rawlin and James Sovey received Discover magazine's Award for Technological Innovation for development of Deep Space 1's ion engine; John Hairston Jr., director of External Programs, received United Cerebral Palsy President's Humanitarian Award; Jo Ann Charleston, chief of the Office of Educational Programs, received the YWCA's 1999 Greater Cleveland Women of Achievement Award; Dr. Howard Pearlman, a resident researcher in the Microgravity Division, received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers; Nancy Rabel Hall, a research scientist in the Microgravity Fluid Physics Branch, received the 1999 National Society of Black Engineers Golden Torch Award for Pre-College Community Service; and Dr. Christos Chamis, Dr. Pappu Murthy and Dr. Subodh Mital received a 1999 Innovation Award from Enterprise Development Inc. for their Integrated Composite Analyzer software.


To keep pace with the technology-based global economy, Glenn's Lewis Incubator for Technology (LIFT) recently opened a satellite facility to nurture the start-up and growth of companies with the potential to incorporate NASA-developed technologies in the areas of software, electronics and communications (SEC). The SEC incubator provides office space, high-speed Internet access and a variety of shared support services to help select companies integrate NASA technology into products for market.


A space telemedicine demonstration held at the Center May 4 linked sites throughout the U.S. via a Glenn high-performance wide area network to create a virtual collaborative clinic. Doctors across the country, including the Cleveland Clinic's Dr. James Thomas, showed how they can diagnose patients on-line using 3-D medical images. The NASA system has potential for improving health care at remote locations by linking patients with the best doctors and medical facilities. Spacecraft crews will use this system during missions to Mars and other planets.


How well can different types of solar cells stand up to conditions on a cold and dusty Mars? Two Glenn experiments that will help answer that question are scheduled to fly aboard the Mars 2001 Lander mission. The Mars Array Technology Experiment will measure the solar spectra on the Red Planet and test seven types of solar cells. The Dust Accumulation and Repulsion Test will measure dust particle size, the rate of accumulation and the effects on solar cell output. It will also test two ways to avoid dust accumulation: by slanting the solar cells and by repelling dust with an electrical charge. Both experiments will provide data that will help scientists improve computer mathematical models of the Martian atmosphere. With those models, scientists will be able to pick the ideal solar cells for missions to particular regions of the planet.


Inside Glenn's aircraft hangar, a team of engineers and technicians are putting the final touches on two propellant densification units that promise to reduce the cost of access to space. The team developed the two 1,000-square-foot units that will create super-cooled liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellant to boost a next-generation reusable launch vehicle into Earth orbit for about one-tenth of today's costs. Densified propellants are so critical to lowering launch costs because they enable more propellant to be packed into a given volume, thus improving the performance of a launch vehicle. The units will be shipped in January 2000 to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and Stennis Space Center for further testing.

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