Wednesday, July 10, 2013

ISAS 2013 Academy 1: Day 3

The ISAS students got out of bed very early this morning to catch a 7:30 am flight to San Jose, California. From there they traveled to the location of the NASA Ames Research Center. This is where the students will be able to tour many of the testing facilities and scientific labs that have played a large role in bringing us the technology and scientific exploration known to us today. This is also one of the best opportunity in the academy to gain information in regards to their mission planning with many chances to speak with NASA professionals.

NASA Ames Research Center

The Vertical Motion Simulator has the benefit of testing many different flight scenarios, such as Space Shuttles, Fighter Jets, Moon Landers and 747s. Guided by Lisa Grant the students learned that this particular simulator not only gave pilots and astronauts all of the buttons and view screens of the actual vehicle, but it also simulated vehicle movement and depth perception. This simulator is the only one in the world of its kind.

Students view and step inside a Vertical Motion Simulator.

Next there was a tour of the Biosciences Lab with Tra-My J. Richardson. Students were able to see efforts to recycle air, water and solid waste. They learned about osmosis based membranes that changes sea or waste water into drinkable water. They also had the opportunity to see a compressing approach to recycling solid waste for water and radiation protection.

Tra-My J. Richardson speaking to the students on recycling air. 

Students were able to listen to a very intriguing presentation on the moon by Brian Day. He brought up various moon exploration spacecrafts such as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS). Both of these spacecrafts were looking for more evidence of water on the moon based on theories that the poles of the moon contain frozen water.

Brian Day talking to students about developments in moon exploration.

NASA Ames Research Center is home to the 80 by 120 wind tunnel, the largest wind tunnel in the world. Bill Warmbrodt presented the students with a very fascinating presentation on this scientific apparatus. Students appreciated his approach of engaging them with questions and amusing stories. This wind tunnel uses the amount of electricity that it would take to power two cities of 225,000 people and can produce wind at 115 miles per hour. It uses hydro-electricity that comes from dams in Big Creek of Nevada and the Snake River of Idaho.

Students walking the length of the world's largest wind tunnel.

The final event of the day was a great time for the teams to take advantage of the fact they were on the site of a NASA center walking among elite scientists, engineers and other professionals. A panel of experts including Pascal Lee, Brian Day, Maria Bualat and Jake Forsberg brought a ninety minute question and answer session to the students. Questions were asked such as, "What is a reasonable budget for the mission to Mars?" And, "Between the VASIMR engine and NERVA engine, which is the best in regards to fuel efficiency and safety?" To find out about the answers to these questions and to find out what decisions the teams made on the specifics of their missions, be sure to join us for the banquet on Saturday where the teams will present their final reports.

Pascal Lee talking with ISAS students. 
Not only are these students bright, they are confident. Students did very well interacting with the expert scientists and engineers during dinner before the formal question and answer session began. And their questions were exceptionally strong and in depth.Well done students!

Please take some time to visit the ISAS Facebook and Twitter page for more pictures and updates. #isas


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