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Wyoming Space Grant Consortium Newsletter - PaSSWORD

Volume 7, April 26, 1996

(The PaSS Center is Funded by NASA Grant #NGT-40050)

Astronaut Jerry Ross Delivered Public Talk on April 18th

Jerry Ross

Jerry Ross has flown in 21 different types of aircraft, holds a private Pilot's license, and has logged over 2,400 flying hours, the majority in military aircraft. His NASA experience began in 1979 with assignment to the Payload Operations Division at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center as a payload officer and flight controller. In this capacity, he was responsible for the flight operations integration of payloads into the Space Shuttle. The following year (May, 1980), Jerry Ross was selected as an astronaut. He has had several technical assignments including member of the 1990 Astronaut Selection Board and acting Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office. A veteran of 5 space flights, Jerry has logged a total of 35 days, 9 hours, 55 minutes, and 34 seconds in space, including nearly 23 hours on four space walks.

On November 26, 1985, Jerry was a mission specialist on the crew of STS 61-B. The crew deployed three satellites, conducted two 6-hour space walks to demonstrate Space Station construction techniques, and operated numerous other experiments. The STS 61-B Atlantis returned on December 3, 1985, after completing 108 orbits of the Earth in just over 165 hours.

Jerry then flew twice as a mission specialist on board the Orbiter Atlantis. The STS-27 was launched on December 2, 1988. This four day mission carried a Department of Defense payload, as well as a number of secondary payloads. In about 105 hours, 68 orbits of the Earth were made. The STS-37 was launched on April 5, 1991, and was used to deploy the 35,000 pound Gamma Ray Observatory. Jerry performed two space walks totaling almost 11 hours to manually deploy the stuck Gamma Ray Observatory antenna and to test prototypes Space Station Freedom hardware. After 93 orbits and over 143 hours, the Atlantis returned on April 11, 1991.

From April 26, 1993 through May 6, 1993, Jerry flew as Payload Commander and Mission Specialist aboard the Orbiter Columbia. During the mission, 160 orbits of the Earth were made and almost 240 hours of space flight were logged. Nearly 90 experiments were conducted. The German sponsored Spacelab D-2 mission investigated life sciences, material sciences, physics, robotics, astronomy, and the Earth and its atmosphere.

Most recently, Jerry was a mission specialist on STS-74, NASA's second Space Shuttle mission to rendezvous and dock with the Russian Space Station Mir. During the 8 day flight, which began on November 12, 1995, the crew aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis successfully attached a permanent docking module to Mir in addition to conducting experiments on a number of secondary payloads. The STS-74 mission was accomplished in 129 orbits of the Earth, traveling 3.4 million miles in 196 hours and 44 seconds.

Astronaut Jerry Ross arrived at the Univerity of Wyoming and toured the campus before being interviewed by Jim Morgan at UW Public Radio. One of the questions asked in the interview was "Would you want to spend six months on the Mir Space Station?" to which Jerry Ross answered that he might consider spending three months on the station. However, Jerry commented that he would definitely go to Mars (which would take a minimum of 2 years travel time) if asked. At the afternoon Graduate and Undergraduate Q & A session, questions centered around, "How does one become an astronaut?" Students were informed that applicants from a variety of scientific and engineering disciplines are selected and training such as scuba (alternate environment training) and flying, while not required are very beneficial. Applications can be obtained from NASA's Johnson Space Center.

Details about the public appearance and photos are on the next page.

Astronaut Jerry Ross's Public Appearance

Pass2 Pass3

The public appearance began with a reception where kids of ALL ages gathered around to meet and talk with Astronaut Jerry Ross. The excitement of meeting an astronaut was portrayed in the faces of those who interacted with Jerry, who signed autographs and shook hands with everyone near him. Jerry began his presentation by describing the 5 missions he has flown. He also spoke directly to the young people telling them, "you can be anything you want to be if you work hard enough at it."

Jerry then narrated a video of his most recent mission, a docking with the Mir Space Station in November 1995. Activities on the space station included sharing ice cream with the Russian Astronauts, showing conservation of angular momentum by spinning an astronaut who alternatingly brought his arms and legs in and then put them out, and Jerry "jogging" around from floor to wall to ceiling to wall and around again.

After the video, Jerry seemed to enjoy the answering the many questions from the audience. Some of the questions included: "How do you go to the bathroom?", "Will you be flying another mission?", "Have you ever hit an alien?", and "What is it like to be out of the shuttle floating in space?" Questions lasted for nearly an hour.

We all appreciated the kindness and genuine enjoyment of being an astronaut that Jerry Ross exhibited. For many of the audience, it was a childhood dream come true to meet an astronaut. During informal discussions between events, it was learned that in addition to the excitement of space travel, astronauts are constantly learning about a variety of subjects in order to do the many experiments performed in space. Jerry also commented that taking off was quite a ride and said the initial thrust felt like someone took a baseball bat and hit the back of your chair rather smartly. Thank you, Jerry, for giving us a glimpse into the life of an astronaut.

Wyoming Space Grant Symposium Scheduled for October, 1996

The 1996 Wyoming Space Grant Symposium (WSGS) will be held October 11, 1996 (Homecoming Weekend), in the Memorial Union on the University of Wyoming Campus in Laramie. The Symposium will feature technical papers, poster sessions, exhibits, and discussion sessions on planetary and space science topics. The featured speaker at the Symposium will be Dr. William H. Paloski, a senior scientist from NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, who will speak on his experiences with the joint U.S.-Russian effort to explore space and create the International Space Station.

The goal of the Symposium is to promote the exchange of results, ideas, and interests in the area of planetary and space science among researchers, industry, educators, students, and the public. While the technical program has been set, there is still space available for exhibits or poster sessions to display student projects, work in progress, or research summaries for the Symposium attendees. Anyone interested in preparing an exhibit or poster session should send three copies of a brief proposal, including the name address, telephone, and e-mail of the presenter to:

      Dr. John McInroy
      WSGS Program Chair
      Electrical Engineering Dept.
      P.O. Box 3295
      Laramie, WY 82071

Details on the Symposium program and schedule will be distributed this summer. We encourage everyone with an interest in the planetary and space sciences to make plans to attend. For more information, contact the WSGS Symposium Chair:

      Dr. Rex Gantenbein
      Computer Science Department
      P.O. Box 3682
      Laramie, WY 82071
      voice: (307) 766-4226
      fax: (307) 766-4036

or visit the Wyoming Space Grant PaSS Center's World Wide Web homepage at:
We look forward to meeting all who are interested in planetary and space science in Wyoming.

FREE to Public & Educators

To receive any of the items listed below, contact Teresa Ciardi at (307) 766-2862 or via e-mail (


We still have several sets of software available from the Jackson and Tull's "PC's in Space" collection. The two options are:

  1. Exploring the Solar System
  2. Hubble Space Telescope First Servicing Mission

Both are available for either IBM or Macintosh computers.


We also have a few Wyoming CD ROMs. The Wyoming CD ROM is an image data base with several images of Wyoming and a few astronomical and geological images. There are slides, maps, remote sensing and satellite images. The CD ROM is formatted for both an IBM and a Macintosh.


There are several copies of the "NASA's Wyoming Space Grant Graduate & Undergraduate Fellowship Reports: 1994 Space Science Research" available. The bound publication is a non-refereed collection of final reports written by PaSS Center funded researchers.

We also have some materials available on loan, such as videos and an Astronomy Resource Book.

1995/1996 Graduate Students Fellowship Research Results

Graduate students awarded PaSS Center Fellowships in 1995 recently supplied us with progress reports for our annual reporting to NASA and additional information for their respective articles. Each year our Graduate Fellows (GF) contribute new and exciting research to the scientific community. The summaries provided by our Graduate Student Researchers follow with researchers presented in alphabetical order.

      Russell Ashenden, GF
       Atmospheric Science
      Dr. John Marwitz, Advisor
       Atmospheric Science
      Dr. William Lindberg, Advisor
       Mechanical Engineering

Two-Dimensional NACA 23012 Airfoil Performance Degradation by Super Cooled Cloud, Drizzle, and Rain Drop Icing
On the evening of 31 October 94, an American Eagle ATR-72 crashed near Roselawn Indiana killing all 68 people aboard. The cause of the accident was probably due to a, somewhat rare and unknown, icing condition caused by super cooled drizzle drops (SCDD). Researchers at Wyoming have been involved with aircraft icing for several years and participated in the ATR-72 accident investigation. This led to an interest in evaluating aircraft performance degradation due to various types of drops found in the atmosphere. A wind tunnel evaluation was initiated June 14, 1995, to determine the performance degradation of a NACA 23012 airfoil model (outboard wing section of the Wyoming King Air) due to various sizes of cloud, drizzle, and rain drops. Computer modeling was used to predict ice shapes using a NASA-Lewis ice accretion code. The ice shapes were dependent on the natural distributions obtained by the Wyoming King Air Research Aircraft for the cloud, drizzle, and rain drops. Data collection in the Wyoming Low Speed Wind Tunnel was completed August 24, 1995. The results demonstrated that airfoil icing due to cloud, drizzle, and rain drops increased drag, reduced lift, increased stall speed, and changed the aerodynamic pitching moment. However, the ice shape due to the drizzle drops resulted in the highest degradation in airfoil performance. This degradation was made worst by simulating a pneumatic boot activation, that is, the simulated ice was removed from the leading edge of the airfoil like a typical anti-icing system. The residual ice then caused a catastrophic flow separation from the airfoil resulting in the extreme performance degradation. These results do not support the current aircraft industry belief that the resulting icing condition in freezing rain is the most severe. On the contrary, aircraft encounters with super cooled drizzle drops may result in the most severe aircraft icing. The importance of these results are evident with the ATR-72 accident. Since the surface temperatures were around +7 degrees Celsius, freezing rain or drizzle were not present at the surface; however, not knowing the severity of the conditions, the pilots held their aircraft in super cooled drizzle drops. The pilots probably assumed that since they were not in "freezing rain" they would not encounter any problems. These SCDD conditions far exceeded the capabilities of the ice protection systems on this commuter aircraft which eventually contributed to the crash.

      Calli Daume, GF
       Geology and Geophysics
      Dr. Larry C. Munn, Advisor
       Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences

Comparison of Field and Satellite Spectra for Southeastern Wyoming Rangeland Soils
Following acquisition of a portable spectrometer, several spectral samples were taken of soils at the former McGuire Ranch. The spectral curves were broken down into reflectance values and subjected to statistical analysis to define the separability of closely related soils so that this may be applied to the interpretation of Landsat TM imagery.

It has been found that the difference between rangeland soils are more subtle than were expected in the 1300-2500 nm range. A second round of data collection has been completed using more detailed soil information. Application of this data to the use of remote sensing in natural resource inventory will be performed.

      Mark Garnich, GF
       Mechanical Engineering
      Dr. Andrew Hansen, Advisor
       Mechanical Engineering

Inelastic Structural Analysis of Composite Material Systems Incorporating Micromechanical Effects
A thermal elastic "Multicontinuum" theory was finalized in August, 1995, and an article was submitted to the Journal for Composite Materials. The theory has since been generalized for modeling composite materials consisting of a linear elastic reinforcing material embedded in a linear viscoelastic matrix material. The capability includes thermal loading and predicts stresses and strains in the constituents as well as the composite. The theory has been implemented in a finite element computer program.

      Steven Massei, GF
       Computer Science
      Dr. L. Karl Branting, Advisor
       Computer Science

Reuse of Hierarchical Problem Solving Episodes for Robotic Planning
A code was implemented to verify certain results on Hierarchical domains. Once complete, this will demonstrate or refute the applicability of case reuse in related search spaces and will permit verification of the applicability of case-reuse in a hierarchical search.

      Jason Miller, GF
       Electrical Engineering
      Dr. John McInroy, Advisor
       Electrical Engineering

Precise Calibration of the MPI Pointing System
In order to precisely aim the optics of an interferometer used for astronomy (the Micro-Precision Interferometer, MPI), a six legged platform, or hexapod, has been proposed. Due to the presence of six legs, the kinematic equations are extremely complex. In fact, current researchers have approximated the kinematic solution using 40th order polynomials.

Since the 40th order polynomials are quite cumbersome, this project has investigated the use of a newer approximation tool, neural networks. Neural networks are patterned after the functioning of the brain. Since even small brained creatures like spiders can easily manipulate multiple legs, a properly designed neural network should solve the kinematic problem with equal ease. The results demonstrate that a neural network can compensate for the many nonlinearities and quickly solve the kinematic equations.

      Gerard van Belle, GF
       Physics and Astronomy
      Dr. H. Melvin Dyck, Advisor
       Physics and Astronomy

An Interferometric Investigation into the Multiplicity of Young Stellar Objects
Young stellar objects (YSOs) known as Herbig Ae/Be stars are being studied, using the IOTA interferometer. This unique instrument allows us to examine these stars with resolution ten times greater than the Hubble Space Telescope. One of the goals is to discover close companions to these YSOs and characterize the occurrence of this phenomenon, and investigate the implications of such companionship upon planetary formation. Current results from the IOTA interferometer have produced two papers (two more are pending), and six invited colloquia from Berkeley to Berlin.

The Graduate Fellowship (GF) program continues to be one of the more successful avenues we have found for enhancing research infrastructure. The value of this research is such that we began "publishing" final reports in 1994. For a copy of the 1994 reports or more information on the GF program, call 766-2862.

FREE Teacher Workshops

Potentially, three teacher workshops will be held this Spring. We have finalized plans for a workshop at the Rawlins Middle School which is to be held April 26 and 27. Another workshop has been tentatively scheduled for the Rawlins District on May 17 and 18. Cody is next on the list for this Spring. For information or to schedule a workshop in your area, please contact Jim McClurg at (307) 766-2053 or write to us at the address on the front of the newsletter.

Project Coordinator at EYH Conference

Teresa M. Ciardi, Project Coordinator for the Wyoming Planetary and Space Science Center, was invited to present astronomy at an Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) Workshop in Chadron, Nebraska. Lora Pastwick, a graduate student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, planned and presented along with Teresa. EYH is designed to provide 5th through 12th grade girls with role models and experiences they might not otherwise have. Women in various fields are asked to volunteer their time for a day to display possible careers for the young girls to pursue.

The astronomy workshop was reported to be one of the best according to the EYH coordinator, Nancy Bradford, who read all 500 evaluations from the conference. Efforts such as hanging posters around the room and performing a demonstration of a Supernova explosion, were rewarded with a "thank-you" from many young girls and EYH volunteers. Thanks to the PaSS Center it was also possible to send a miniature telescope home with each of about 60 5th-12th graders. Both Teresa and Lora have been asked to stay in touch and have been invited to return. Teresa has also been invited to present at the 1996 EYH Conference in Casper, Wyoming after having presented successfully for the past three years. Teresa continually designs EYH workshops in both physics and astronomy incorporating several hands-on activities.

Director's Corner - Paul Johnson

We are pleased to announce that NASA has awarded the Wyoming Space Grant Consortium PaSS Center an additional $1.3 Million to continue operation for the next four years (1996-1999). This is an appropriate time to look back and review what we have done since our inception in 1991 as well as to look ahead and start planning for our next four years of operation. Our original goals included encouraging new interdisciplinary research among multiple departments and industry; fostering graduate, undergraduate, and faculty research (both at UW and at Wyoming Community Colleges); and promoting science and mathematics in education.

Over the first four years (1991-1994), the PaSS Center distributed approximately $250,000 in the form of Graduate Space Science Fellowships with a 26% match in funds from UW departments. In 1994, we added a program for undergraduates to provide them with the opportunity to perform "real" and meaningful research. Also in 1994, we added the Faculty Fellowship program and have awarded a total of $52,291 (during 1994 and 1995) with over 20% matched by supporting departments. The Faculty Fellowship program includes funding for new course development as well as new research. Other programs developed to enhance the research infrastructure at UW include: colloquia and public talks, the addition of academic and industrial affiliates, the Experimental Program for the Stimulation of Competitive Research (EPSCoR), and the Upper Midwest Aerospace Consortium (UMAC). The public lecture series has included Dr. Eugene Shoemaker, comet discoverer, Dr. Murray Gell-Mann, Nobel Laureate, and Astronaut Jerry Ross.

In 1995, we added US West and Sheridan College as affiliates and a $75,000 EPSCoR project to study remote sensing of semi-arid ecosystems was begun. Also in 1995, a $350,000 planning grant was awarded to develop UMAC, a new five state consortium that will accomplish cooperative research in agriculture and education via the internet.

Education Outreach has made great strides with the production and state-wide distribution of a Wyoming CD ROM, the development and execution of workshops for K-12 teachers, and the Earth Systems Science Internet project. A new software package has also been developed for K-12 teachers entitled, "Field Trip Software", enabling computer-guided tours of various sites in Wyoming. In order to reach the general public throughout Wyoming, the PaSS Center has created a homepage on the World Wide Web, ( and partially sponsors the Wyoming Public Radio program STARDATE. We also continue to distribute our newsletter twice a year throughout the state. All of these accomplishments have been made by heroic efforts from our staff, Co-Directors, UW and Community College faculty, and a number of Wyoming teachers. Thank you!

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

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