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NASA Affiliation

NASA Balloon Launch


Each year, NASA funds 11 fellowships to Wesleyan students (priority to freshmen). Students receive $1000. Winners for 2017-18 are Richard Calo, Randy Corathers, Rebecca Davis, Emily Kearney, Mark Leadingham, Angela Meyer, Bobbi Mitchell, Jericho Norris, Ethan Randolph, Nathan Swalley, and Josh Tenney. The announcement was made by Wesleyan professor Dr. Joseph Wiest, who also serves as a member of the NASA Board.

Space Club balloon launch

Members launched tethered helium balloons at Wesleyan (photo above). The payload was a magnetic-field sensor, an accelerometer, and a Geiger counter. Dr. Steven Hard came from NASA Fairmont to advise.

NASA research at Wesleyan

Fall semester 2017

NASA provided funding for Ethan Randolph and Nathan Swalley to design and build catapults. Randy Corathers is designing and building a brushless DC motor. Jericho Norris is building an electromagnetic energy harvester.

Josh Tenney is building a temperature controller using a Raspberry Pi computer interface. Emily Kearney is building an infrared laser resonance detector using a Raspberry Pi.

Becca Davis and Bobbi Mitchell are building temperature sensors using a thermocouple and an Arduino computer interface, which will be launched in a NASA sounding rocket at Wallops Island next June in the Rock-Sat-X program.

Summer 2017

Jeremy Marsh worked on laser-induced fluorescence in our plasma physics lab.

Angela Meyer worked on a rocket payload to measure vibrations during flight.

Rocket launch

June 2017—Angela Meyer completed her payload at Wesleyan. Then she went to Wallops Island to install the payload, observe the launch on a Terrier Improved Orion sounding rocket, and analyze her data. Later that month, Angela presented her findings at NASA Fairmont. This is the fourth year in a row that our students have launched rocket payloads.

Space Club

The Space Club’s purpose is to promote space exploration for the benefit of humanity. SPACE established five initiatives—curriculum development, research, internships, financial support, and public outreach. NASA provides financial support, internships, and technical advice. Members are currently working on a rocket payload to provide power using solar panels, to be launched from NASA Wallops Island in June 2018. NASA Fairmont periodically reviews the project design, just like NASA requires for all projects.

Science Public Outreach Team

Our nine SPOT members are undergraduate student ambassadors who give science-based presentations to K-12 students in WV. Current topics are astronomy and water conservation. New members are completing training to become certified.

Space Day

April 1, 2017—The public was invited to attend Space Day in the Social Hall this afternoon. SPOT gave a presentation on the Solar System. We demonstrated drone-flying and cryptography. Kids competed for best paper airplane and best hydrofoil design.

NASA colloquia

NASA missions, Dr. Darrel Tenney—NASA was created to enable a manned space-flight program, with outcomes such as six manned Moon landings and the International Space Station. NASA is planning robotic space missions and putting humans on Mars. Dr. Tenney directed the Aerospace Vehicle Systems Technology Program at NASA Langley. He has a B.S. from Wesleyan and PhDs from Virginia Tech and Harvard.

Gravitational Waves, Dr. Sean McWilliams—Gravitational waves are ripples in space-time produced when a massive object suddenly changes velocity. Gravitational waves are a key prediction of Einstein’s 100-year-old theory of general relativity. In 2015, gravitational waves were finally detected at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). Dr. McWilliams is a gravitational-wave astrophysicist at WVU who works with the LIGO team.

Complex systems, Tony Lindeman—A small change occurs in a complex engineering system can produce far-reaching effects. Lindeman is a systems engineer at NASA-Marshall. He has degrees from Wesleyan and the Naval Postgraduate School.

NASA design process, Daniel Keenan—The NASA design process includes careful testing, integrity, and teamwork. He applies these principles to designing thermally protective outer shells of spacecraft. Keenan is an engineer at the Kennedy Space Center.

Internships at NASA

William George’s internship at NASA Langley—“I analyzed data from the Multi-Mission Earth Entry Vehicle. I tested results in Langley’s 20-foot wind tunnel. My research mentor was Wesleyan graduate Chris Kuhl.”

Katie Reid had an internship at NASA Fairmont—“I worked on the Orion spacecraft, which will take astronauts further into space than ever before, past the moon to possibly even Mars. We analyzed data from Orion’s first test flight using Python software.”

Josh Hiett’s internship at NASA Fairmont involved improvements to the user interface of the Rover-X, which is a four-wheeled all-terrain vehicle developed during the summer at NASA-Fairmont. His internship resulted in employment with TMC Technologies at NASA Fairmont. Josh writes software to simulate the hardware of the James Webb Space Telescope.

Corey Rhodes had an internship at NASA Langley. He improved a computer model of rocket flight characteristics using an Arduino circuit to record data from an accelerometer and a pressure altimeter. He will work at NASA Glenn when he finishes his M.S. at Virginia Tech.

Devon Miller’s internship at Goddard Space Flight Center—“I worked on the lunar dust mitigation project. Astronauts have difficulty breathing if too much dust enters their living areas.  We chose a low-power electron beam in an electric field.”

Cody O’Meara’s internship at NASA Langley—“I designed an improved a rotating diffuser, ordered supplies, built the diffuser, and tested it in the anechoic chamber. I met two sisters whose dad was a NASA pilot. They talked him into take us up in a plane and he let us fly it!”

Jacob Poldruhi’s summer internship at NASA Glenn: “I found a way to recycle plastic into useful materials such as water and fuel to support astronauts as they venture out to explore the Solar System. We visited the Boeing C-27 assembly line, Edwards Air Force Base, Jet Propulsion Lab, Space X, and Mission Control.”