Team Chosen for NASA Microgravity Research Program
A student team from the College of Engineering will conduct scientific research experiments while flying in a reduced gravity environment as part of NASA's Microgravity University--Systems Engineering Educational Discovery.
The UNL team is one of 10 college and university teams chosen to participate in the NASA discovery project. NASA has identified ongoing projects related to systems engineering and reduced gravity, and the UNL team will work on research concerning the "effects of 0G or 1/6G on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) data accuracy." The team will test the effects of 1/6G and/or 0G on the read rate/accuracy of RFID capabilities of items contained in cargo transfer bags (CTBs) via portable readers, as well as the accuracy of read rates of CTBs and tagged items translating through a vehicle using stationary readers. NASA is currently investigating Surface Acoustic Wave RFID technology to augment its current barcode-based inventory system, but no testing has yet been performed in a reduced gravity environment.
Team members include Stephen Brogan, West Point, NE; Lee Redden, Kearney; Dustin Dam, Sidney; Olia Dzenis, Lincoln; Tyler Golberg, Alexandria, Minn.; and Dana Valish, Columbus. Lance Pérez, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Graduate Programs, is the faculty adviser.
The overall experience, which begins in January and culminates in the reduced gravity flight in April, will feature hands-on investigational design, test operations, and educational/public outreach activities. These student investigations will follow the same stringent guidelines governing NASA research and test flights, allowing the students to gain insight into NASA and its programs.
During the project, the team and a NASA mentor will collaborate on the flight experiment. Several videoconferences will be conducted with NASA and other engineering organizations concerning the research.
Each investigation is scheduled for two flights if conditions permit, to replicate the investigation and correct any problems encountered during the first flight.
NASA creates the reduced gravity environment through specialized aircraft, which includes flying a series of parabolic maneuvers, similar to a roller coaster ride. Normal missions consist of approximately 1.7 flight hours and are flown over the Gulf of Mexico.