NASA began its Systems Engineering Educational Discovery Program, or SEED, five years ago. Carthage College is one of just two schools in the country selected to participate in the program all five years. Following is a list of the Carthage Microgravity Team’s previous collaborations with NASA engineers, and a look at where those projects stand today.
2008: Inertial Filtration of Lunar Dust
This project investigated a promising new technology for use in removing toxic lunar dust from cabin air in future lunar habitats and spacecraft. The Carthage team designed and built an experiment that demonstrated the viability of this technology under lunar gravity conditions. These results were published in peer-reviewed journals and in NASA technical reports, and were presented at national conferences. Researchers at NASA Glenn Research Center are currently using the Carthage apparatus in the development of air handling equipment for lunar habitats.
2009: Repose Angles of Lunar Regolith Simulants
Repose angle is the natural slope angle formed by granular materials such as soil. An important measure of stability for engineering operations like excavation and construction, a material’s repose angle depends on gravity and inter-particle chemical interactions. Repose angle had never been measured under both actual lunar gravity and the hard vacuum of the lunar surface. The Carthage team built an apparatus to measure repose angles of lunar soil simulants under hard vacuum conditions. The first experiment of its kind, the data from these experiments were published in NASA technical reports and presented at national research conferences.
2010: Propellant Slosh in the Orion Service Module Downstream Propellant Tanks
Carthage students worked with an engineer at Lockheed Martin to build a scale model of a propellant tank in the Orion Service Module (next generation crew transport rocket) to study propellant slosh in zero-gravity. Some results from these experiments are proprietary to Lockheed Martin. Others were published and presented at national research conferences. On the basis of these results, a Carthage student was invited to present experimental data at an international space conference in Bremen, Germany.
2011 & 2012: Propellant Gauging in Microgravity
Carthage students designed and built an experiment (the first of its kind) to evaluate fluid volume in the reduced gravity environment of space where gravity-based fuel level sensors do not work. The experiment showed the viability of a proposed technique to accurately measure fluid volumes in a spacecraft propellant tank under arbitrary gravitational fields. The results from this experiment were presented to NASA space flight directors at Johnson Space Center in Houston, who are moving this concept forward for further investigation and development. Preliminary results were published in a proceedings paper.