UTEP students prepare for flight aboard NASA's aircraft

Tuesday, July 8, 2014 - 11:11am

Five University of Texas at El Paso students will travel to Ellington Field at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston July 10-11 to conduct experiments aboard a reduced gravity aircraft.

The Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program gives undergraduate students the opportunity to propose, design, build and fly experiments in reduced gravity.

Thirteen teams were selected from across the United States to test their science experiments in microgravity conditions as part of NASA's Minority University Research and Education Project.

Students and their NASA mentors will perform these experiments aboard a microgravity aircraft that 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 gather data in the unique environment that mimics space.
UTEP’s opportunity to participate is the result of the hard work and commitment of students Sergio Cordova, Miriam Paez, Gabriel Garay, Edgardo Flores and Sara Soto.

The team was selected for the flight program based on scientific merit and educational outreach potential.

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.

“We are excited that our program provides once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for aspiring scientists and engineers to study and understand their craft,” said Frank Prochaska, manager of the Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program.

“The students gain real-world skills by participating in the program through collaborative planning and teamwork.”

The UTEP student team will arrive at Ellington Field on July 8. They will then go through required training and safety briefs before flying.

Their experiment will help determine the effectiveness of a lunar dust-cleaning device that takes advantage of the fact that lunar regolith is magnetic.

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



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