|Students getting organized in the San Jose airport|
Upon arriving at Ames Research Center, the students dropped their bags off at the Navy Lodge and hurriedly walked into the base. Although, by this point in the day, the expediency of the walk was motivated more by hunger than by the strict schedule. The students strolled down the sidewalks as they headed towards lunch, nudging one another and snapping as many pictures as their cameras would allow. The students were given a long and satisfying lunch at the MegaByte, the cafeteria located in the middle of Ames. Here they had the opportunity to eat a hearty meal, peruse through the gift shop, or simply sit outside in the warm California sunshine.
Leaving the peaceful cafeteria behind, the students were given a history lesson of Ames outside of the humongous structure known as the 80-by-120 Wind Tunnel; the largest wind tunnel in the world. After the entertaining history lesson, the students were given an inside tour of the wind tunnel and were allowed to roam freely across the cool gray tiles. Many students were stricken silent at this colossus of human innovation and listened intently as Bill Warmbrodt, a scientist from Ames, regailed them with stories of testing failures and successes. It was the highlight of the entire day.
|The 80-by-120 Wind Tunnel at NASA Ames|
From the command center, the students continued their trek and split up into two groups. One group went to the CVSRF and the other went to the Fluid Dynamics Lab. After a short tour, the groups then switched in order to allow the students to witness all of the interesting labs without being too overcrowded. The CVSRF is a building in which two flight simulation machines tower silently and mechanical sounds whir constantly. These simulation machines are intended to be used to test pilot endurance, pilot abilities, new planes, and other variables. While touring the facility, the students were allowed to go into one of the simulators and participate in a landing simulation. At one point during the simulation, the fog cleared from San Francisco Bay and the students all saw a runway suddenly materialize out of the haze. The simulation was so realistic that one student commented as he descended from the machine, that as the plane landed he had braced himself for the usual bump when the wheels touch the tarmac, but then remembered afterwards that they weren't really landing.
|A flight simulator in the CVSRF|
|Phosphorescent demonstration in the Fluid Dynamics Lab|
As evening began to nestle into the Silicon Valley, the students walked back into Ames in order to get a group shot in front of the monolithic Hangar One. To many of the students, it came as a surprise to tour so much of a NASA facility yet to have seen so few space projects. They learned that there is actually another purpose to NASA. Despite having a commitment to the exploration of space, NASA has an even greater commitment to improving the lives of people here on Earth. In the students' eyes, the world of NASA suddenly broadened, and so did their possible futures. With their remarkably gifted minds and NASA's limitless involvement in the world, these students have the opportunity to change Earth for the better.
These blogs will continue to be posted every evening. A more "live" version of the days' events are being uploaded onto the ISAS: Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars' facebook page.
--Andrew Schrader and Jaime Guevara--