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Wyoming Space Grant Consortium Newsletter - PaSSWORD

Volume 8 - NOVEMBER 15, 1996

Virtual University Workshop

On December 1st of 1995 the Western Governor's Association met to "explore the promise of a regional virtual university, as well as opportunities for [the governors] to collaborate in its creation." This plan is endorsed by Governor Geringer who has committed $100,000 to the initial phase. The central ideas behind the Western Governor's [virtual] University can be found on the World Wide Web at: ( The essence of the plan is to build an independent regional university based on high-technology distance learning and networking that would compete with and supplement private initiatives such as National Technological University, Novell's network engineering training program, and the University of Phoenix. One of the assumptions of the WGA meeting was that "The higher education community -- especially the faculty and the accrediting organizations -- will vigorously oppose the creation of a 'next generation virtual university' but ultimately the large public universities, including the faculty, will respond to market pressures and the demands of consumers -- as represented by the governors."

The Virtual University is coming, and the institutions of higher education in Wyoming and their faculty can use it to their advantage. However education based on compressed video, public television, the internet, and other media is going through rapid development with the difficulties associated with educational experimentation. In the interest of minimizing the repetition of mistakes in developing web courses, the PaSS Center is sponsoring a statewide Virtual University Conference in April of 1997 (exact dates TBA). We have currently lined up invited speakers with significant experience in learning technologies including Dr. Lionel Baldwin, Head of National Technology University, Fort Collins, Colorado, Dr. Robert Lawrence, President, Northwest Indian College, Washington, Dr. Karen Sides-Gonzales, Educational Consultant, San Antonio, Texas and Dr. Charles Wood, Head, Department of Space Science, University of North Dakota Aerospace.

We are also soliciting contributed talks from educators and administrators within the State of Wyoming on topics related to the Virtual University, including (but not limited to), Web-based courses, distance learning technology and its use, the impact of the internet on economic development, and multimedia approaches to distance learning. To be included on our conference information list, please e-mail us at or call us at (307) 766-2862.

"Going to the End of the Earth to do Astronomy"

Dr. Adair Lane was invited by the PaSS Center to present both a technical colloquium and a public talk on October 3, 1996. Dr. Lane is the Project Manager for the Antarctic Submillimeter Telescope and Remote Observatory (AST/RO). She resides at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center For Astrophysics (CFA) in Massachusetts.

Dr. Lane discussed the initial scientific results that have been obtained from the South Pole, at the technical colloquium. In her public talk, Adair showed numerous slides and recounted how the telescope was built, and its trek to the South Pole. The story began at Boston University where the telescope was built over a period of about 4 years, beginning in 1989. The submillimeter telescope was then lifted by crane to the roof of the College of Liberal Arts building (7 stories high) and placed into a dome through a slit with only 1 cm of clearance. After initial testing of the telescope was completed, it was time to pack all of the equipment for the trip to the South Pole.

The trek to the South Pole was not without incident. On the initial leg of the trip, the truck carrying the telescope was involved in an automobile accident. At the Antarctic, the telescope incurred another impact when it was "dumped" out of the back of the plane. However, with only a month spent repairing the damage, the telescope was up and running. The AST/RO telescope is now providing the best submillimeter data obtainable from the surface of the Earth.

Antarctic Submillimeter Telescope and Remote Observatory

The South Pole is an interesting place to spend time. There are 26 people who winter-over to take care of the 3 telescopes located there. The winter-over staff is stranded at the Pole for a total of nine months. Even in the case of an emergency, it would not be possible to get help to the South Pole during that period of time. Living conditions are primitive; only two 2-minute showers are allowed per week. Living quarters are small and are encased under a dome for protection against the elements. The Antarctic is not a friendly place to live.

The 1st Wyoming Space Grant Symposium featured Dr. William Paloski

The 1st Wyoming Space Grant Symposium began with a keynote address from Dr. William Paloski, Deputy Director of the Life Sciences Research Laboratories at NASA's Johnson Space Center, on "The Joint US-Russian Space Effort". Dr. Paloski was a scientific Principal Investigator in the SMSP. He also served as Deputy Project Scientist during the Mir 19 mission, directing science payload activities from the Russian Mission Control Center in Kalingrad. Currently, Dr. Paloski is responsible for developing and coordinating research directed toward understanding postural stability, control, and performance before and after space flight, and for implementing countermeasures to offset the effects of neurosensory adaptation to microgravity. He also assists NASA and support personnel in developing personnel in developing new equipment, software, and techniques for performing, analyzing, and interpreting studies of interest to the laboratories at Johnson Space Center.

NASA recently completed the first phase of its new joint space program with Russia known as the Shuttle-Mir Science Program (SMSP). The SMSP brought together scientists from the U.S. and Russia to perform joint studies on the effects of long duration space flight on human beings. In the keynote address, Dr. Paloski reviewed priorities, goals, and the implementation and science accomplishments of the SMSP. The focus was on U.S.-Russian scientific and programmatic interactions, and included personal observations regarding the logistics of performing scientific experiments in remote laboratories and the influence of language and culture on cooperation in space. The first goal of the project was to learn how to work together and how to mesh two very different sets of procedures. The next problem was transporting equipment from the U.S. to Russia and modifying the power available so that the equipment would operate smoothly.

Dr. Paloski also discussed some of the physiological problems associated with long duration space travel. The cardiovascular system experiences a decline in the first few days (8-9 days) and then plateaus, thus, cardiovascular decline is not a major problem for long missions. Most people are aware of the problem of bone loss during space travel; however, Paloski informed us that the same chemicals responsible for this bone loss also cause kidney stones. In addition to bone loss, neurophysiological performance is a serious concern. Studies find that something as simple as turning to look at an object is difficult after space travel. With short duration space flight, it typically takes 2-4 hours for neurophysiological performance to begin to improve and about a week for neurophysiological performance to be at its original level. With long duration space flight, it can take a week or more to see initial improvement and 60 days before the astronaut is performing normally. The neurophysiological problem is of great concern, especially when considering the type of pilot performance necessary when reentering the Earth's atmosphere.

We wish to thank Rex Gantenbein and John McInroy for organizing the symposium.

Symposium Summary

The purpose of the 1st Wyoming Space Grant Symposium was to bring together Wyoming researchers and students interested in space science and engineering. The symposium included research presentations in five sessions, with many of the talks presented by graduate students. The five session headings were: Earth and Environmental Sciences, Computer Sciences, Remote Sensing, Astronomy, and Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering. Some of the topics were meteorite impacts, Earth system science, ozone loss, evaluating space probe missions, distributive computer systems, remote sensing of grasshoppers, field spectroscopy, hyperspectral imagery, orbital mechanics, tracking moving sources, and real-time biomedical data acquisition. Judging from the number of people who attended the sessions, there is definitely interest in the planetary and space sciences among people of various backgrounds. It is expected that the 2nd Wyoming Space Grant Symposium will be an even greater success.

Abstracts of 2-3 pages were submitted for publication in the symposium proceedings. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the proceedings contact us via e-mail (

PaSS Center Graduate Students Receive 20% Raise

In our attempt to attract more applicants, we have increased our Graduate Fellowship stipend by 20% or $1,127.00 per month for the 1996/1997 academic year. PaSS Center Graduate Fellowship recipients perform cutting edge research in the planetary and space sciences, and currently are located in seven departments on campus. Ten students were awarded funding for the 1996/1997 academic year.

  • Russell Ashenden
    Atmospheric Science
    Dr. John Marwitz, Advisor
  • Michael Bruch
    Electrical Engineering
    Dr. Jerry Hamann, Advisor
    Dr. John McInroy, Advisor
  • David Ciardi
    Physics & Astronomy
    Dr. Charles Woodward, Advisor
  • Thomas James
    Computer Science
    Dr. John R. Cowles, Advisor
  • Calli Jenkerson
    Geology & Geophysics
    Dr. Larry Munn, Advisor
  • Lane Middleton
    Geography & Recreation
    Dr. Richard Marston, Advisor
  • John O'Brien
    Electrical Engineering
    Dr. John McInroy, Advisor
  • Gerard van Belle
    Physics & Astronomy
    Dr. H. Mel Dyck, Advisor
  • Alecia Wawrzynski
    Geology & Geophysics
    Dr. E. Ray Hunt, Jr., Advisor
  • Steven White
    Dr. Daniel Buttry, Advisor

We congratulate all of the students who received a PaSS Center Graduate Fellowship. We also congratulate Calli Jenkerson who has several job opportunities and may be leaving for a postdoc shortly, John O'Brien who received alternate funding from DoD-EPSCoR, and Gerard van Belle who has been offered a job beginning November 1 at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

If you have a research project that falls under the heading of planetary and space science and is NASA related, you are eligible to apply for a PaSS Center Graduate Fellowship. The criteria used for selecting Graduate Fellowship recipients include: 1) quality of the research proposal, and the likelihood that publications and/or proposals to NASA will result; 2) academic and research track records of the student and advisor; 3) relevance of proposal to NASA (in a broad sense): proposals may involve, but are not limited to, aerospace engineering, astronomy, atmospheric science, computer science, education, engineering, remote sensing, and space medicine; 4) the contribution of any matching funds; and 5) the availability of all data and equipment to be used in the project. Contact Teresa at (307) 766-2862 or via e-mail ( for more information regarding applying.

"Taking Measure of the Universe"

Dr. Robert Kirshner

Dr. Robert Kirshner gave a PaSS Center sponsored public talk at the University of Wyoming October 21, 1996. Dr. Kirshner is chairman of the Astronomy Department at Harvard. His concentration has been working on the problems of Supernovae and extragalactic astronomy such as the "Big Bang" theory. Dr. Kirshner was the Principal Investigator for the observations of Supernova 1987A with the International Ultraviolet Explorer Satellite and is Principal Investigator for the Supernova Intensive Study with the Hubble Space Telescope.

Dr. Kirshner has refined a method for determining the age and the size of the Universe using supernovae. Initially, attempts to determine the size of the Universe were dependent upon finding a particular type of variable star of known intrinsic brightness called a Cephied variable. These stars were used to map a relatively small part of our Universe. Using the Hubble Space Telescope and supernovae, such as Supernova 1987a, the existing map of the Universe is much larger, and what we see is completely non-uniform structure. Also, by using supernovae, it is possible to determine a more precise age of the Universe. Prior to using supernovae, the age of the Universe was estimated to be 10-20 Billion years old, a very large range, even in astronomy. However, it is now estimated to be about 14 Billion years old.

How do we determine an age? The Universe is known to be expanding. By measuring the distance to galaxies (using supernovae) and their velocity, astronomers can determine the age of the Universe. This is much like estimating the required time to travel from Casper to Sheridan, knowing the distance between them and your driving speed.

Special thanks to Jim Verley, Cultural Outreach & Cultural Programs Coordinator for arranging this public appearance.

Suborbital Rocket Program

"The Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming Space Grant Consortia, in conjunction with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are proposing a sub-orbital rocket investigation to accurately measure the total atmospheric ozone over the rocket range. The Hands-on Educational Research Opportunity (HERO) is unique in that it will focus on the tropospheric component of the total ozone column. This project will be a follow-on payload to three previous Colorado Space Grant missions; the Colorado Student Ozone Atmospheric Rocket (CSOAR), the Cooperative Student High Altitude Research Payload (CSHARP), and the High-altitude Ozone Measuring and Educational Rocket (HOMER). These missions were all student developed payloads successfully launched from Wallops Island, Virginia in September of 1992, August of 1994, and August of 1996 respectively."

When NASA approves this project, the Wyoming Space Grant Consortium will be recruiting up to five undergraduate and graduate students to design, build, and integrate a polarimeter into the rocket payload. The polarimeter will be used study tropospheric aerosols. Students who work on this project can receive course credit. We will also competitively award up to 3 paid part-time positions to work for HERO. The HERO project will commence in late spring of 1997 and last for three years.

Students working on the project at the time of launch will have the opportunity to participate in the launch/recovery phase of the project at Wallops Island, Virginia. Students from all disciplines will be encouraged to participate. Involvement in HERO has tremendous positive implications for those interested in a career in the aerospace industry.

New Wyoming CD ROM

The third edition of the Wyoming Image Database CD ROM is near completion. It includes 500 historical images of Wyoming towns, the Wyoming geology maps by Sheila Roberts and the Wyoming Water Atlas by the Wyoming Water Development Commission. Also included on the CD ROM are astronomy and image processing software for both IBM compatible and Macintosh computers. The CD ROM is due to be released by the end of November.

The entire CD-ROM is written in HTML. Thus, any form-capable browser (such as Netscape Navigator 2.0 and above) will be able to correctly view the content of the CD-ROM independently of the operating system and type of computer used. This should make the CD ROM more usable.

The Wyoming Image Database CD ROM will be FREE to anyone who requests it, while supplies last. We especially encourage K-12 educators to take advantage of this unique resource. To order, contact Teresa Ciardi at (307) 766-2862 or via e-mail (

A PaSS Center LOGO

Rob Underwood designed the new PaSS Center Logo on the front page of this newsletter. Rob is an Art student here at the University of Wyoming. He will soon be adding finesse to our homepage and helping us to design a brochure outlining all of our programs. The logo has appeared on the 1995 publication of Graduate and Undergraduate Fellowship reports and on the cover of the 1st Wyoming Space Grant Symposium proceedings.

Educational Resources Available


We still have several sets of Jackson and Tull's "PC's in Space" software titled, "Exploring the Solar System" and "Hubble Space Telescope". Both are available in either IBM or Macintosh format. This software is FREE to anyone who requests it. CALL TODAY! There are also 3 additional software packages available - "Exploring the Earth", "Exploring the Sun" and "Exploring the Universe" which can be downloaded from our web site.


When Astronaut Jerry Ross visited last April, he presented a video of his most recent mission - docking with the MIR Space Station - at his public talk. Copies of this video may be borrowed for use in the classroom by any interested educator.


The Astronomical Society of the Pacific has produced a book titled, "Universe at Your Fingertips". This is an excellent resource for teaching astronomy. It includes introductory background material and great hands-on activities for every topic in astronomy. Some of the topics included are: Sun and Seasons, Comets and Meteors, Galaxies and the Universe, and Astronomy in Different Cultures. Call the PaSS Center and ask to borrow one!

Upcoming Events & Deadlines

March 1, 1997

All Proposals Due: for Undergraduate Research Seed Money, Graduate Fellowships, and Faculty Fellowships

Spring, 1997

Two (2) Public Speakers will be scheduled; dates should be available by January.


The Wyoming Space Grant Planetary and Space Science (PaSS) Center is funded by NASA Grant NGT-40050.

The PaSSWORD Newsletter is written and edited by both Teresa Ciardi and Paul Johnson. HTML version by Norbert Pirzkal (updated 2005 by Michele Stark).


This page was last updated Tuesday, October 26, 2010 12:14 PM

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