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For Release: July 27, 2000

Barbara L. Kakiris/Lori J. Rachul
Media Relations Office
(216) 433-2513/(216) 433-8806

Robert D. Allen
NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA
(757) 864-6176

Jerry Berg
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL
(256) 544-6540

Patricia K. Hunt
Hathaway Brown School, Cleveland, OH
(216) 397-0799

Susan Mather
Air Force Material Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH
(937) 255-1103

Beverly A. Weiss
Boeing Phantom Works, Seattle, WA
(253) 773-0923

Local All Girls' High School Students "Suit Up" with NASA Glenn for Space Station Experiment

A group of high school girls wearing lab coats in a clean room works on an experiment to board the International Space Station (ISS)-sound like science fiction? It's not, thanks to the first-ever collaboration between NASA Glenn Research Center and the local all girls' Hathaway Brown School, Shaker Heights, OH, who are conducting an experiment to fly aboard the ISS in June 2001.

The girls are working closely with Glenn researchers to finalize 41 samples for the Project Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE). In the experiment, different polymer materials will be exposed to atomic oxygen and solar radiation (ultraviolet and x-ray radiation) for a year and then returned to the project team for analysis to carefully determine their atomic oxygen durability.

The students were invited to participate in project MISSE as an extension of the original Glenn/Hathaway Brown collaboration in the Polymer Erosion And Contamination Experiment (PEACE), which is a space shuttle Get Away Special can experiment that intends to measure the atomic oxygen durability of a wide variety of polymers with potential space applications, and to validate a method for identifying sources of silicone contamination that occur on spacecraft in low Earth orbit.

"I was thrilled to invite the Hathaway Brown girls to work with me on the Space Station experiment because it gives them hands-on experience with flight samples," said Kim K. de Groh, principal investigator for the PEACE polymers experiment on Project MISSE. "Flying the same polymers as our PEACE shuttle flight experiment on Project MISSE provides a unique opportunity for long-term space-flight data. The science is truly of interest to the space community."

The group chose the same 41 materials planned for use in the PEACE experiment for Project MISSE so that both short-term and long-term exposure tests, respectively, will be available for the same materials. These polymers have wide chemical structure variation and the data to be generated is already of interest to a group of Canadian researchers who are modeling polymers' atomic oxygen durability.

Since the spring of 1998, eight Hathaway Brown students on the team combined have spent over 80 weeks at Glenn doing labwork and working out project details assigned by de Groh as well as Glenn team members Bruce A. Banks, PEACE project scientist and Edward A. Sechkar, project engineer. The team (comprised of girls in grades 9-12) conducts work year-round. As team members leave for college, they are replaced by underclassmen. Activities completed include characterizing, with extreme precision and accuracy, the different materials selected for flight and preparing actual flight samples. Their work develops or improves characterization techniques for sample evaluation.

"The professionals at NASA Glenn have been amazingly generous with their time and knowledge. They treat the students as true professionals in this long-term collaborative experiment, which will probably last seven years," said Patricia K. Hunt, director, Hathaway Brown Student Research Program and PEACE team member. "They agree with Hathaway Brown that the best way to prepare bright young people to become the leaders of the future in science and technology is to give them experiences like these today."

Project MISSE is a materials flight experiment sponsored by the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate of the Air Force Research Lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the NASA Space Environmental Effects Program at Marshall Space Flight Center. Project MISSE is a cooperative effort among the Air Force, NASA and industry that is currently undergoing initial integration at Boeing, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and NASA Langley Research Center. The girls' project is one of 28 submitted by students from Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky under Project MISSE.

Hathaway Brown is the fourth largest independent girls' school in the country. Its partnership with Glenn is part of its innovative Student Research Program, in which students conduct research on cutting-edge topics under the mentorship of supervising professionals at local research or academic institutions or businesses.

For more information on Hathaway Brown School, please visit:


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Editor's note: Photos related to this story are available at:


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