UNL team will fly with NASA Microgravity University in July

UNL team will fly with NASA Microgravity University in July

Calendar Icon Jan 03, 2013      Person Bust Icon By Carole Wilbeck | Engineering     RSS Feed RSS

Front row (left-to-right): Eli Van Boening, Blake Stewart, Christian Laney, Shawn Schumacher, Maggie Clay, Caleb Berggren, Nicholas Goeser, Jake Reher (team captain), Eric Fritz, Brad Steiner. Back row (left-to-right): Ryan Wood, Hunter Severin, Ethan Monhollon, Tricia Foley, Effie Greene, Carl Nelson (adviser), Dustin Dam (adviser). Not pictured: Ellie Ahlquist, Brendan Byal, Peng Liu, Timothy Mastny, Taylor Noel, Parise Reynolds, Kyle Wroblewsi and Joan Yule.
Front row (left-to-right): Eli Van Boening, Blake Stewart, Christian Laney, Shawn Schumacher, Maggie Clay, Caleb Berggren, Nicholas Goeser, Jake Reher (team captain), Eric Fritz, Brad Steiner. Back row (left-to-right): Ryan Wood, Hunter Severin, Ethan Monhollon, Tricia Foley, Effie Greene, Carl Nelson (adviser), Dustin Dam (adviser). Not pictured: Ellie Ahlquist, Brendan Byal, Peng Liu, Timothy Mastny, Taylor Noel, Parise Reynolds, Kyle Wroblewsi and Joan Yule.

            This year, a team of University of Nebraska-Lincoln engineering students will pilot a free-flying vehicle--like the radio-controlled helicopters popular as holiday gifts--not to escape their courses, but to help NASA research.

            Selected university teams will perform experiments on reduced gravity missions flying from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, July 26-Aug. 3, during the 2013 NASA SEED Microgravity University.

            It's the sixth consecutive year that UNL has been selected for the program. NASA Microgravity University conducts scientific research that helps the U.S. space program advance its efforts. Projects are prepared by students with mentoring from NASA and industry representatives, then conducted during "Flight Week" aboard a series of parabolic flights in specially-equipped aircraft that reach 35,000 feet in altitude.

            UNL's 2013 assigned project, ARGOS and Microgravity Free Flyer Evaluation, will explore the ability of the Active Response Gravity Offload System to provide a microgravity environment for a free-flying vehicle.

            ARGOS is a robotic system that provides reduced gravity environments through a large motion-based platform at JSC that has been used for human and robotic testing over the past three years, said JSC's ARGOS lead representative, Larry K. Dungan. ARGOS has not been used for testing free flyers and the evaluation of the ARGOS control system to maintain a microgravity environment for a free flyer is a unique area of research.

            According to UNL's confirmation letter from NASA, the Nebraska team will need to develop a free flyer (likely a quad or hexa-copter) that will fly a specific set of motion patterns in both ARGOS and plane- induced microgravity environments.

            The UNL team is also tasked with devising a data collection method for comparing performance in the environments, via motion capture camera systems and inertial guidance units. This data will help refine ARGOS and its control systems in further study of free flyer performance in reduced gravity settings.

            The 2013 UNL microgravity team's student captain, Jake Reher, said the team is "extremely excited to get started on our research project which we will fly in July." Reher, a senior mechanical and materials engineering major from Omaha, said the UNL team has been growing in numbers each year, particularly with underclassmen. He added that the team is eager to promote interest in research and discovery within the community and among aspiring engineers as the students work with NASA and the JSC ARGOS Lab group in coming months.

            The team's advisers are Carl Nelson, associate professor of mechanical and materials engineering, and Dustin Dam, a 2008 UNL electrical engineering graduate and captain of UNL's 2008 microgravity team.

            For more about the UNL Microgravity Team, visit www.microgravity.unl.edu. For more information about the ARGOS and Microgravity Free Flyer Evaluation, visit http://go.unl.edu/h9p. Following is a list by hometown of team members with their academic year and major. An asterisk after a student's name indicates a junior or senior who is a potential "travel team" member who will represent UNL at 2013 Flight Week with NASA JSC.

NEBRASKA

            Atkinson: Eric Fritz*, team leader, senior, mechanical and materials engineering.

            Bellevue: Hunter Severin, junior, chemical and biomolecular engineering; Blake Stewart, sophomore, mechanical and materials engineering.

            Blair: Caleb Berggren*, senior, mechanical and materials engineering; Tricia Foley*, junior, electrical engineering.

            Bloomfield: Joan Yule*, team leader, senior, mechanical and materials engineering.

            Blue Hill: Eli Van Boening, freshman, mechanical and materials engineering.

            Columbus: Shawn Schumacher*, junior mechanical and materials engineering; Brad Stiner, freshman, electrical engineering.

            Kearney: Kyle Wroblewski*, senior, civil engineering.

            Lincoln: Effie Green*, junior, mechanical and materials engineering; Taylor Noel*, junior, chemical and biomolecular engineering.

            Norfolk: Timothy Mastny, sophomore, electrical engineering.

            Omaha: Ellie Ahlquist, freshman, biological systems engineering; Brendan Byal, sophomore, mechanical and materials engineering; Nicholas Goeser*, senior, mechanical and materials engineering; Jake Reher*, team captain, senior, mechanical and materials engineering.

            Papillion: Christian Laney, freshman, electrical engineering.

            Roca: Ethan Monhollon*, junior, chemical and biomolecular engineering.

            Schuyler: Peng Liu*, senior, civil engineering.

ELSEWHERE

            Birmingham, Ala.: Parise Reynolds, sophomore, mechanical and materials engineering.

            Fort Collins, Colo.: Maggie Clay, sophomore, biological systems engineering.

            Sioux Falls, S.D.: Ryan Wood, sophomore, chemical and biomolecular engineering.