Engineering at Nebraska Fall09
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Accomplishments
Microgravity

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln sent its fourth team in three years to NASA’s prestigious Microgravity University for April missions at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The UNL team, nicknamed "Red Moon," included eight Nebraska Engineering students:

  • Team leader Kevin Watts, Ansley, Neb., is a senior who majors in mechanical engineering.
  • Khoa Chu, Lincoln, is a senior who majors in mechanical engineering.
  • DerekFierstein,Grand Island,is a senior who majors in mechanical engineering.
  • Andrea Gilkey, Overland Park, Kan., is a senior who majors in biological systems engineering.
  • Andrew Kelley, Lincoln, is a senior who majors in mechanical engineering.
  • Eldon Summerson, North Platte, is a junior who majors in mechanical engineering.
  • Kyrik Weidman, Windsor, Vt., is a junior who majors in mechanical engineering.

Microgravity2

Nebraska Engineering students Andrew Kelley and Andi Gilkey work on the cryocooler experiment while Assistant Professor Carl Nelson observes during a NASA reduced-gravity flight.

The team’s faculty co-advisers were Carl Nelson, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Zhaoyan Zhang, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

According to NASA, Team Red Moon studied cryocooler validation fortheVariableSpecificImpulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) VF- 200 for missions with the International Space Station starting in 2012-13.

Cryocooling is required to keep the High-Temperature Superconducting (HTS) magnet assemblies at or below 40 degrees Kelvin, or 40 degrees above absolute zero, for the VF-200’s plasma exhaust technologies at Low Earth Orbit. UNL students tested the cryocooling in super-gravity (1.8g) and microgravity (<0.1g) conditions.

Microgravity University missions fly on NASA’s specially-equipped aircraft with parabolic maneuvers on 1.5-hour flights over the Gulf of Mexico to simulate varying conditions of gravity.

UNLUNL© 2010 University of Nebraska-Lincoln | College of Engineering


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