Status Report

Code UG Weekly Notes 2-20-02

By SpaceRef Editor
February 20, 2002
Filed under , ,

Physical Sciences Division
Weekly Highlights for Week Ending 2/20/2002

*** Indicates item is appropriate for the HQ senior staff and may appear
on the OBPR Web site:


PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN NASA GLENN AND CLEVELAND CLINIC FOUNDATION: NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF) recently signed a Space Act Agreement to share expertise and jointly test, characterize, and potentially fabricate new optically based oxygen sensors for use in new applications. GRC’s Microgravity Science Division has extensive experience and test data with these and other types of oxygen sensors in support of its microgravity combustion science program, and plans to fly them in the ‘Candle Flames in Microgravity’ experiment and in the Fluids and Combustion Facility racks on ISS. The CCF now needs to implant these sensors in animals in support of some of their bone growth/loss research studies, and asked for collaboration with GRC in using these optically based oxygen sensors for their application. The optical sensors are smaller and less intrusive than their predecessors and often offer better spatial resolution. (Point of Contact: Howard Ross, 216-433-2562)

MICROGRAVITY PUBLICATION/CITATION DATABASE: At the request of the Physical Science Division of the Office of Biological and Physical Research at NASA Headquarters, construction of the Microgravity Research Program (MRP) publication/citation database continues. The Science Citation Index is being used as the source for identifying citations of published articles. Inputs of flight investigation data into the database are complete, and inputs of ground investigation data are underway. Current work in progress, includes: (1) elimination of duplications (i.e. same article listed in the Task Book in more than one Edition); (2) gathering needed data for entries that are incomplete; (3) correcting publication dates and names of journals; (4) distinguishing among articles published in peer reviewed journals vs. selected presentations vs. other written material/documents (as listed in the Task Book); and, (5) making necessary corrections and updates to investigation/investigator data. Formats and relationships created among investigations/investigators, publications, and citations data can be used to produce various metrical reports.


DEFINING MICROGRAVITY: Dennis Stocker, a GRC Microgravity Combustion Science researcher, wrote a short explanation of the concept of microgravity, in part because of the inconsistent way that the term is explained within NASA’s public resources. This explanatory note has been shared with responsible web site officials and/or curators at GRC, JSC, and MSFC. Stocker’s explanation was also shared with IMAX in support of their upcoming movie "Space Station 3D." In addition to the explanation, Stocker has also developed a 1-page microgravity quiz, which is geared primarily for grades 9-12.

"SMOKE SIGNALS" AT ISS EDUCATORS CONFERENCE: Dennis Stocker, a GRC Microgravity Combustion Science researcher, and Kathy Welch-Martin, a teacher in Indiana, presented a session on microgravity and its importance on combustion in a session titled "Smoke Signals" at the International Space Station Educators Conference, at Space Center Houston, on Feb. 1-2, 2002. The Smoke Signals classroom activity was developed by Stocker and Welch-Martin in 1998. Stocker later developed an algebra supplement to the activity, which was revised for distribution at ISSEC.

PBS SHOWCASES NASA STUDENT GLOVEBOX EDUCATION PRODUCT: The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) website is now showcasing the NASA Student Glovebox that Carla Rosenberg co-wrote with PBS staff and NASA headquarters staff. The Microgravity Program has the distinction of being the first NASA educational product to be highlighted there. See the website for information:

NEW MUSEUM WORKSHOPS AT MSFC: On February 4, 2002, Marshall Space Flight Center’s (MSFC) Dan Woodard and Twila Schneider made microgravity presentations to the NASA Education Workshop (NEW) for science museum educators. The 21 workshop participants were from science museums from across the country.

* 16th Annual AIAA Microgravity Science and Space Processing Symposium

The 16th Annual Microgravity Science and Space Processing Symposium was held as part of the 40th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit in Reno, NV from January 14-17, 2002; over 1,700 attendees participated in this meeting. The Microgravity Symposium was made up of 13 sessions with a total of over 90 separate papers and panel discussions. The symposium was sponsored by the AIAA Microgravity Science and Space Processes Technical Committee and chaired by Afina Lupulescu, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and David Chato, NASA GRC. Session topics ranged from a programmatic overview of the various national programs, to emerging science and technologies, to ISRU, materials science, fluid physics, combustion science, containerless processing, the microgravity environment, and space exploration and colonization. The 17th Annual Symposium is scheduled for January 6-9, 2003.

* GRC Exhibit at the AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting Features the OBPR/Physical Sciences Program

NASA’s OBPR/Physical Sciences Research Program was featured as part of the large GRC exhibit at the 40th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting in Reno, NV from January 14-17, 2002. A new large panel display with the theme "Office of Biological and Physical Research, Space Research and You" highlighted the research themes of Fundamental Space Biology, Physical Sciences Research, Space Research Integration, Bioastronautics, Space Product Development, and Educational Outreach. Microgravity Science and Space Product Development Program literature and posters were distributed to the attendees at the exhibit. The exhibit was assembled and staffed by personnel from GRC and MSFC. Photos of the exhibit activities are available at:

PICTURES: Contents of the OBPR/PSR Panel Display; RenoExhibit.pdf. MSFC’s Twila Schneider and the OBPR Exhibit at the AIAA 40th Aerospace Sciences Meeting; OBPREx.jif

BEST PAPER/BEST PRESENTATION AWARDS MADE AT AIAA MEETING: The Microgravity Science and Space Processes Technical Committee (MSPTC) of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has awarded its Best Paper Award from the 15th Annual Microgravity Science and Space Processing Symposium to John A. Pojman, Yuri Chekanov, Jonathan Masere, Vitaly Volpert, Thierry Dumont, and Hermann Wilke for their paper AIAA-2001-0764, "Effective interfacial Tension Induced Convection (EITIC) in Miscible Fluids". This paper was presented by Prof. Pojman, University of Southern Mississippi, at the annual symposium which was part of the 39th Aerospace Sciences Meeting held in Reno, NV on January 8-11, 2001. The award consists of a plaque, a copy of which is presented to each co-author, signed by the chair of the AIAA MSPTC, Dr. Henry K. Nahra. The MSPTC Best Presentation Award was presented to Susan M. Motil, NASA GRC, for her presentation of paper AIAA-2001-0770, "Testing Microgravity Flight Hardware Concepts on the NASA KC-135". Her paper was also presented at the 39th Aerospace Sciences meeting. The award consists of a plaque signed by the chair of the AIAA MSPTC, Dr. Henry K. Nahra.

AIAA 2002 SPACE PROCESSING AWARD PRESENTED TO WILLIAM J. MASICA: The prestigious AIAA 2002 Space Processing Award was presented to William J. Masica on January 15, 2002, at the annual Awards Luncheon at the 40th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting in Reno, NV. The award is presented for significant contributions in space processing or in furthering the use of microgravity for space processing. Mr. Masica’s citation read: "For his pioneering efforts in microgravity research and outstanding technical and programmatic leadership of the NASA Lewis/Glenn Research Center Microgravity Science Program during the Spacelab missions and pre-Space Station Era." This award is presented biennially; past recipients include Robert C. Rhome, Martin E. Glicksman, Lawrence DeLucas, Simon Ostrach and August F. Witt. Mr. Masica began research on the behavior of fluids in low gravity in the early 1960’s and was the principal investigator for experiments on sounding rockets and early space missions. He was responsible for successfully directing technological development of reduced-gravity fluid and thermal systems for Apollo, Centaur, and Shuttle spacecraft systems. Mr. Masica spent 35 years at the Lewis/Glenn Research Center and served as Chief of the GRC Space Experiments/Microgravity Science Division from 1985 to 1997. The award was presented by the AIAA Honors and Awards Chair, L. S. "Skip" Fletcher, NASA Ames; in attendance were former NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin and AIAA Executive Director Cort Durocher.

CUB SCOUTS LEARN ABOUT THE ISS AND MICROGRAVITY SCIENCE: On February 9, 2002, Cleveland, OH Cub Scout Pack #777 and their families (about 30 children and 15 adults) were provided a tour of Glenn Research Center to see why and how world-class science and world-class technology meet each other. The tour was conducted courtesy of MSD’s Mike Doherty. The scouts toured the ISS U.S. Laboratory Mockup and the Telescience Support Center in Building 333. The scouts heard about GRC’s current and future microgravity efforts aboard the International Space Station. They participated in a table top experiment which produced a polystyrene fractal gel from the combination of two separate constituents, colloid and salt; they learned of the potential positive impacts to life on Earth by the research that is being conducted by the Physics of Colloids in Space experiment currently operational on ISS — exotic photonic crystals for future computers, colloids and food, and fractal gels and materials. They enjoyed the life-size ISS US Lab mockup, and witnessed computers talking to an experiment that is busily circling the world. The tour concluded with a visit to the Visitor’s Center for a lecture and slide presentation by Lois Morningstar, a Visitor’s Center docent. The feedback on the entire event was very positive.

ISS EDUCATOR’S CONFERENCE: On Saturday February 2, 2002, Marshall Space Flight Center’s (MSFC) Dave Dooling and Twila Schneider made microgravity presentations at the NASA ISS Educators Conference at Space Center Houston, in Houston, TX. The new wireless microgravity demonstrator (drop tower) was debuted at this education event. Glenn Research Center’s (GRC) Dennis Stocker and Indiana teacher Kathy Welch-Martin presented a session on microgravity and its importance on combustion in a session titled "Smoke Signals" at the International Space Station Educators Conference.

DROPPING IN A MICROGRAVITY ENVIRONMENT (DIME) STUDENT COMPETITION: The DIME high school student team competition for science experiments in the NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) 2.2 Second Drop Tower has selected four teams for design and fabrication of their experiments to be operated in the drop tower. Five representatives from each team will receive an expenses-paid trip to visit NASA Glenn in late-April to operate their experiment in the drop tower. The selected teams and their experiment titles are:

Effects of Microgravity on Density Based Fluid Flow
Sycamore High School
Cincinnati, Ohio

Fluid Current in a Microgravity Environment
Bay High School
Bay Village, Ohio

Magnetic Fluids vs. Gravity
COSI Academy
Columbus, Ohio

Combustion of 75 g/m^2 Office Paper in Microgravity
Sycamore High School
Cincinnati, Ohio


SMOLDERING COMBUSTION GASCAN (MSC) REFLIGHT ON STS-108 SUCCESSFUL: After the successful STS-105 mission of the first reflight Get-Away Special (GAScan) payload of the MSC experiment (payload G-774), the second MSC payload G-775 had also successfully flown aboard the STS-108 and returned in good condition. All indications are that the hardware functioned as designed. G-774 had two polyurethane foam test sections; one had forward flow of the oxidizer gas (in the direction of burn), the other opposed. G-775 on STS-108 also had two chambers, but this time, one with forward flow and one quiescent, i.e., no flow. So far, it’s known that the foam test samples in both chambers were ignited, and the ultrasonic imaging system (UIS), which tracks the smolder front, worked as expected. This was the second successful test of the UIS system, the first being on the STS-105 mission. The performance of the UIS system has been especially gratifying. This was key to judging experiment success of the reflights, as it was a new concept which replaced a video system tried on previous GAS flights. Additional data on the combustion process was gained through a series of thermocouples which measured foam temperatures axially and radially. The P.I., Professor Carlos Fernandez-Pello of UC Berkeley, is at Glenn this week of February 11, 2002 to view the opening of the test sections from the STS-108 mission. More on the MSC experiment, including shortly data from the STS-108 flight, is posted on:

The investigation on Microgravity Smoldering Combustion (MSC), led by Prof. A. Carlos Fernandez-Pello of UC, Berkeley, has the objective of validating the model for theoretical predictions of smolder propagation in order to enhance our understanding of the smolder hazard. Smoldering combustion is the initiation mode for many accidental fires and consequently, is responsible for the loss of many lives. The NASA PAO commented on the fact that some forty per cent of all household fires are started by smoldering furniture. The possibility of a smoldering fire on a spacecraft is of particular concern because the smolder fire could go undetected for a considerable time.

MECHANICS OF GRANULAR MATERIALS (MGM III): The MGM Twin Double Locker Assemblies (TDLA’s) and associated support equipment were shipped from MSFC to the SPACEHAB Payload Processing Facility by BAX Constant Surveillance Service overnight, 1/24-25/02. The MGM team and Boeing/SPACEHAB personnel prepared MGM’s TDLA for installation, performed the required turnover inspections and measurements, mated the TDLA to the SPACEHAB module aft bulkhead, and performed a post-installation full functional checkout. With the successful completion of the installation and IVT, the MGM TDLA is ready for launch. The significant remaining work for MGM is the preparation of the flight test cells, which will begin three months prior to launch, with flight test cell delivery occurring three weeks prior to launch. This third flight of MGM will utilize a sample reforming process for the first time, which will enable the investigator to perform multiple experiments on the same sample.


MICROGRAVITY RESEARCH PROGRAM OFFICE (MRPO) PAYLOAD OPERATIONS STATUS ON THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS) UF1 STAGE: Payload operations for Week 9 (02/10-16/02) of Increment 4 (UF1 Stage) are continuing with no major problems or interruptions. MRPO payloads dealing with experiments on cell science and structural biology are active and functioning nominally. The study of colloids and their behavior in space is continuing and the acceleration measurements are progressing normally. The zeolite hardware was checked out successfully and a staggered activation process was initiated on the structural biology samples. The study of plant growth will begin during the week of 02/11/02 and continue to the end of the stage.


SOLID INFLAMMABILITY BOUNDARY AT LOW SPEED (SIBAL): The objective of this investigation, led by Prof. J. T’ien of CWRU, is to enhance the understanding of flame spread and determine the mechanisms that induce flammability limits over solid surfaces in low-speed flows. Fundamental understanding of the effects of flow environment and fuel geometry on flammability and flame spread has direct applications to spacecraft fire safety. The research is to be conducted in a continuous feed fuel dispensing device that will establish a spreading flame that is also stationary with respect to the laboratory, providing time for diagnostic probing of the flames. It is important to use a solid fuel with consistent properties for the intended study and with suitable characteristics for the continuous feed apparatus. The engineering team is examining the cotton-fiberglass fuel burning and mechanical characteristics to make sure they will be compatible with the hardware. Once they are confident that the fuel can meet their requirements, a large amount will be ordered from the supplier which will be enough for all ground tests and the flight experiment. Recently, more experiments have been performed to examine the cotton-spun fiberglass fabric combustion properties. These tests were carried out using the GIFFTS chamber where the pressure and oxygen percentage can be varied. Both upward and downward tests were conducted. Due to the long flame length in normal gravity for upward spread, steady state could be obtained only for the downward case. Extensive IR imaging has been employed since this is an important proposed diagnostic for the SIBAL experiment. In addition to an approximate flammability boundary in the oxygen vs. pressure coordinates, several interesting flame spread characteristics have been found. First, this material, although very thin, can support one-sided flame spread. It appears that the fabric structure, in particular the inert fiberglass weave pattern, is serving as the flame arrester preventing the flame from propagating to the other side. This is verified by a making a large-enough hole in the sample through which the one-sided flame develops into a two-sided flame. In addition to scientific interest, this study can be important if a laser igniter is employed in the space experiment which is likely to yield a one-sided flame, in which case a flame transfer method will be needed for the flame to become two-sided.

ANALYSIS OF THERMODIFFUSIVE AND HYDRODYNAMIC INSTABILTIES IN NEAR-EXTINCTION ATMOSPHERES (ATHINA): The purpose of this project, led by Prof. I. Wichman of Michigan State University (MSU), is to determine why and how flames that spread over combustible surfaces of solid fuels break up into smaller flames, called "flamelets." These flamelets either continue spreading toward as-yet-unburned virgin fuel, or hover over the burned fuel surface, merging, separating, re-merging, in a seemingly random way. The goal is partly to determine whether these processes are indeed random or whether there are some underlying physics that dictate the flame-to-flamelet transition. The approach is to conduct flame spread experiments to map out the region of parameters, such as flow and heat loss, where such flame instabilities occur, then to probe those regions of parameter space in order to determine what the influences of the thermodiffusive instability mechanisms and hydrodynamic mechanisms are. Recent experiments in the Zero Gravity Facility utilized both paper and PMMA as fuel samples. Flamelets were obtained in many of the drops, but the repeatability has been lacking. A major issue facing this project is whether flow should be on one or on both sides of the fuel sample. Initial drops with paper had the rear sealed off to flow, but large U-shaped flame fronts were observed after the 1g ignition. Opening the rear to the flow seemed to prevent that. However, the model and the 1g Hele Shaw cell tests at MSU have flow only on one side. Experiments are under way to examine the flow on both sides. It should be noted that this decision has a major impact on when and in what insert this experiment will fly. Evaluation of a concept for seeding the solid fuel with small particles that would be released when the fuel burned is completed. At normal gravity the tests were unsuccessful at achieving the seeding density necessary for PIV. The concept will be tested also in a couple of drops, but PIV is dropped from the list of required in-flight diagnostics.



FUNDAMENTAL PHYSICS RESEARCHER WINS PRIZE FROM APS: The American Physical Society annually awards the Aneesur Rahman prize to recognize and encourage outstanding achievement in computational physics research. The 2002 recipient is David Landau of the University of Georgia, an investigator in the Fundamental Physics program. The citation for the award reads as follows:

"For the development of accurate Monte Carlo sampling and Renormalization Group Techniques, the study of the kinetics of aggregation and gelation in polymer systems, and for numerous contributions to the development and application of molecular dynamics and kinetic Monte Carlo methods."

Landau, who is director of the Center for Simulational Physics at the University of Georgia, was also recently selected as a Senior Teaching Fellow (for excellence in teaching) by the University of Georgia. As well, his vita shows earlier awards for his experimental research.

The APS web site for this announcement is at .

WOLFGANG KETTERLE DESCRIBES ROUTE TO BEC IN HIS NOBEL LECTURE: 2001 Nobel laureate Wolfgang Ketterle, an investigator in the Fundamental Physics program, reviewed in his Nobel lecture how techniques were developed for creating and studying the Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) state of clouds of atoms. One graph he showed in his lecture pointed out that the diurnal cycle of data gathering in a period of a year shows a peak just before midnight, with substantial data obtained between midnight and 4 A.M.. More details of this lecture can be obtained from his lecture slides at .


SOLIDIFICATION USING A BAFFLE IN SEALED AMPOULES (SUBSA) AND TOWARD UNDERSTANDING PORE AND MOBILITY DURING DIRECTIONAL SOLIDIFICATION IN A MICROGRAVITY ENVIRONMENT INVESTIGATION (PFMI): The Pre-Shipment Review for the SUBSA and PFMI payloads was held on 2/1/2002. SUBSA and PFMI are Microgavity Science Glovebox (MSG) Investigations manifested for their first flight on UF-2 (STS-111), currently scheduled for a 5/2/2002 launch. The Pre-Shipment Review Board examined the readiness of these payloads for shipment of their hardware to Kennedy Space Center (KSC). The review was successful, and the payloads have arrived safely at KSC, where they will undergo integrated testing with the MSG facility during a two-week period beginning around 2/10/02.


Additional meetings and symposia can be found at:

The MRPO Program Calendar can be found at:

SpaceRef staff editor.