NASA Ames hosts event focusing on research and innovations
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. — NASA’s Ames Research Center recently hosted a public event, titled “Silicon Valley Innovations: From the Earth to the Moon and Mars,” that focused on the center’s research contributions to the space agency’s exploration missions.
The July 13, 2018, event focused on the center’s research contributions to the space agency’s exploration missions. It was attended by about 1,200 members of the public and included exhibits, demonstrations and talks by NASA researchers.
Among the exhibits at the event included displays of small spacecraft, a foldable heat shield called the Adaptive Deployable Entry system Project (ADEPT) and a full-scale prototype of the Mars Helicopter, which is scheduled to fly with NASA’s Mars 2020 rover.
The helicopter technology demonstrator is being designed to climb up to 10 feet (three meters), hover for up to 30 seconds, and incrementally travel farther and farther distances.
NASA’s Human Systems Integration Division displayed Astroskin, a lightweight garment containing sensors than track and astronauts vital signs and activity levels and air traffic control systems under development for the safe low-altitude flight of drones.
Another display was dedicated to the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), which is a Boeing 747SP aircraft that has been extensively modified to carry a 8.8-foot (2.7 meter) reflecting telescope. The display included a scale model of the SOFIA aircraft and an infrared camera demonstration.
SOFIA flight planner Kenneth Bower gave a talk about the 747SP’s history and how it was modified to carry the telescope. Bower also discussed the process of planning a typical 10-hour flight, avoiding bad weather and restricted airspace while packing in as many scientific observations as possible.
Flying at an altitude on 40,000 feet (12,200 meters) puts SOFIA above 99 percent of the water vapor in the Earth’s atmosphere, giving the telescope a much clearer view of the cosmos than that of ground-based observatories.
SOFIA is based at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, and the program, science and mission operations are managed by Ames. The aircraft is currently flying a series of missions out of Christchurch, New Zealand, where it is studying celestial objects best viewed from the Southern Hemisphere.
Jim Sharkey is a lab assistant, writer and general science enthusiast who grew up in Enid, Oklahoma, the hometown of Skylab and Shuttle astronaut Owen K. Garriott. As a young Star Trek fan he participated in the letter-writing campaign which resulted in the space shuttle prototype being named Enterprise. While his academic studies have ranged from psychology and archaeology to biology, he has never lost his passion for space exploration. Jim began blogging about science, science fiction and futurism in 2004. Jim resides in the San Francisco Bay area and has attended NASA Socials for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover landing and the NASA LADEE lunar orbiter launch.