Carthage Microgravity Team travels to Houston to conduct research aboard a zero-gravity aircraft
A team of Carthage students traveled to Houston April 19-28, 2012, to test promising new fuel gauge technology aboard NASA’s zero-gravity aircraft.
The students were members of the 2012 Carthage Microgravity Team, one of 10 college teams nationwide selected for NASA’s 2012 Systems Engineering Educational Discovery program, or SEED. The experiment they have designed and built may change how propellant volume is measured in space.
SEED pairs undergraduate student teams with NASA researchers to design and build experiments essential to NASA goals. Students travel to the Johnson Space Center in Houston to fly their experiments aboard G-Force One, a zero-gravity aircraft.
NASA began the SEED program five years ago. Carthage is one of just two schools in the country selected to participate in the program all five years.
About G-Force One
G-Force One is a modified Boeing 727 used by NASA for spacecraft hardware testing, astronaut training and microgravity research. The plane flies a series of rollercoaster-like dips and climbs over the Gulf of Mexico to produce periods of weightlessness. It climbs to 34,000 feet, then free-falls 10,000 feet before climbing again. During each parabola, passengers experience about 30 seconds of zero gravity; everything on the plane becomes weightless.
About the Experiment
The 2012 Carthage team continued a study started by the 2011 team, working again with Kennedy Space Center engineer Rudy Werlink on a novel method of gauging the amount of propellant in a spacecraft’s tanks. This problem has challenged engineers since the early years of the space age when it became clear that traditional methods of fuel gauging do not work in the weightless environment of space, said Prof. Kevin Crosby, faculty advisor for the Microgravity Team. Read more about the experiment.
The Carthage Microgravity Team was one of 10 teams nationwide chosen to participate in the 2012 SEED program. The other selected teams were:
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- Northwest Nazarene University
- Oklahoma State University
- University of Houston-Clear Lake & San Jacinto College
- University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln
- University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Washington University in St. Louis
- Yale University