June 04, 2012

ASU students prepare for flight aboard NASA'S 'Weightless Wonder'

Posted: June 04, 2012
dust devils
The Dust Devils Microgravity team prepares for their flight aboard NASA's "Weightless Wonder". The team will leave for Houston this Wednesday. Front row (left to right): Emily McBryan, Pye Pye Zaw, and Dani Hoots. Back row: Steve Desch, Amy Kaczmarowski, Jacob Higgins, and Chris Groppi.
Photo by: Tom Story
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Six Arizona State University students will travel to NASA Johnson Space Center’s Ellington Field in Houston to conduct experiments aboard the “Weightless Wonder” aircraft the week of June 11.

The Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program gives undergraduate students the opportunity to propose, build and fly experiments in reduced gravity. The teams will perform the experiments aboard a microgravity aircraft which produces periods of weightlessness for up to 25 seconds at a time by executing a series of approximately 30 roller coaster-like parabolas over the Gulf of Mexico. During the free falls, the students will to gather data in the unique environment that mimics space.

The ASU team’s opportunity to participate is the result of the hard work and commitment of Jacob Higgins, Danielle Hoots, Craig Hoots, Amy Kaczmarowski, Emily McBryan, and Pye Pye Zaw. The team, known as the Dust Devils Microgravity team, was selected based on scientific merit and educational outreach potential from more than 60 proposals. They have put many hours into researching and building their experiment. They are also taking time to reach out to other students and the community to share their unique experiences and discoveries.

The Dust Devils will arrive at Ellington Field, where astronauts do their T-38 training, on June 8. They will then go through physiological training and fly their experiment during the week of June 11. This experiment will test the mechanisms in which dust coagulates in a microgravity environment to provide insight on creation of planets from the proto planetary disk. Following their flight, the team will evaluate findings, draw conclusions and provide the results to NASA.

For more information about the Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program, visit: http://reducedgravity.jsc.nasa.gov/.

Nikki Cassis, ncassis@asu.edu
School of Earth and Space Exploration