The week started like any other week. Teams spent the morning finishing a draft of their technical memorandums so they can be submitted for review before final submission. Both Academies were treated to lunch with Dr. Lei and Dr. Schmidt to discuss the past ten weeks. Everyone seemed to really enjoy their summer, especially all of the trips. Some suggestions for next summer were to improve the housing accommodations and organization of the schedule. Many students in the Aero Academy felt they were not well informed about when trips and tours were going to take place, which interfered with their research schedule. The day concluded with a tour of the Simulated Lunar OPErations (SLOPE) facility, also called the sandbox here at Glenn. This is a neat laboratory that consists of a large sandy floor with sections that can be raised to create different terrain. Most of the work that is currently being done involves analyzing various tire designs.
Today was full of tours and lectures. We first visited the Aerogel lab. The lab technicians showed us how Aerogel is made and demonstrated its amazing insulation capabilities. However, one problem with the gel is that it is very brittle. Researchers are currently looking into ways the gel can added to heat resistant felt to make it more flexible. After the Aerogel tour, the team took a tour of the icing tunnel. The Glenn icing tunnel is the oldest and largest icing tunnel in the world. We also learned that icing tunnel is in very demand because icing continues to be a significant problem for aircraft.
We then headed to a lecture by Dr. George Schmidt about the HERRO program which stands for Human Exploration Using Real-Time Robotic Operations. The talk was very informative and it was nice to get another opinion about the direction of NASA. One interesting thing he discussed if NASA decides to design a new launch vehicle is to keep the public interested by having frequent demonstrations. During the Apollo the era there were launches every few months that tested some new aspect of the mission to the moon. This kept the public very interested in what NASA was doing.
Most of the morning was taken up by a poster presentation by all of the summer interns. We all enjoyed showing off our work to the various NASA employees that came to look at our research. It was also nice to wander around and learn about what all of the other interns have been doing for the past 10 weeks. The rest of day was spent fine-tuning our reports to prepare them for submission.
One of the tours we all had been looking forward to was the drop tower tour, but we were never able to find a time when tower operators could show us around. Even though nothing was scheduled, we decided to press our luck and show up unannounced. Fortunately the test engineers were able to give us a tour. The drop tower is 510 feet deep and provides 5.18 seconds of zero gravity for the experiment.