Aerospace Education

Welcome to Westover Composite Squardron  MA-015's Aerospace Education page!

Welcome to the electronic bulletin board for the Westover Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol! Here is where you'll find all the up-to-date information on current events in aerospace, aviation, weather, astronomy as well as current and past squadron activities.  Aerospace Education is one of the principle functions of the Civil Air Patrol.  Hope you enjoy and learn something.

April AE Current Events

posted Apr 2, 2019, 6:44 PM by Jay Reynolds

1. Successful first launch of Crew Dragon: SpaceX launched the Crew Dragon (although uncrewed for this
flight), and successfully docked it with the International Space Station. Crew Dragon contained a “dummy”
(which SpaceX called a “smartie”) that had sensors to show the effect of the launch on humans. SpaceX dubbed
the mock astronaut, “Ripley” after the lead character in the movie, “Alien.” The first crewed launch is expected
to take place this July.

2. Goodyear introduces a combination tire/rotor for flying cars: The Goodyear company displayed a concept for
a device that could work BOTH as a rotor (similar to what UAVs use) and a tire. Currently, flying cars require
separate systems. This concept is anticipated to be used in autonomous VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing)
flying cars.

3. Hopping water on the moon: NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has been studying the Moon for
nearly a decade, and already found evidence of water there. Now, one of its experiments has shown that the water
“hops” around the moon. At night the water molecules are frozen and are bound to the rocky surface. During the
day the molecules will sublime or evaporate into the lunar atmosphere (such as it is) and move about, then they’ll
settle down elsewhere at night.

4. Toyota working on new “car”: Toyota is developing a car – specifically, a self-driving rover – for the Japan
Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The rover will be able to carry two astronauts (and since it will be
pressurized, the astronauts won’t need to wear their spacesuits inside), and would have a range of 10,000 km
(about 6,000 miles). It would be powered by a combination of solar power and fuel cells.

5. F-16 nabbed for speeding: Well, not quite, but a low-flying F-16 over Bishop, CA, lit up a California
Highway Patrolman’s radar. CHP posted a video of the SECOND pass of the F-16 (probably the pilot was just
having fun with CHP at that point). No word on what speed the F-16 was clocked at.

6. Barking drones: Last month, an AE current event detailed information about an ornithopter (flapping-wing)
UAV that looked like a peregrine falcon to scare birds away from airports. Now, a New Zealand company has
developed a quadcopter that will act like a sheep dog (New Zealand has more sheep than people). The UAV can
project recorded barking sounds as it’s flying.

7. More uses for drones: Reno, NV may be using drones in the future to deliver AEDs (Automatic External
Defibrillators) for cardiac-arrest victims. The concept of operations is that upon receiving a 9-1-1 call for cardiac
arrest, the dispatcher will not only send an ambulance, but will also dispatch a drone (and the dispatcher will talk
the caller through how to use it).

8. Who needs matter-antimatter drive? Astrophysicists believe they have come up with a way to accelerate
spacecraft to near light speed, which would allow exploration beyond our solar system. The concept is to fire a
laser beam near a black hole; the light from the laser would boomerang around the black hole with additional
energy to “power” the spacecraft when it impacts “sails” on the spacecraft. Unfortunately, the spacecraft would
have to first travel to a black hole (about 5-50 times the black hole’s diameter away from it).

9. Northrup-Grumman names spacecraft after Chaffee: Northrup-Grumman’s Cygnus NG-11 unmanned cargo
ship has been dubbed, “S.S. Roger Chaffee” after one of the three Apollo-1 astronauts killed in the launch-pad fire
in January 1967. The Chaffee spacecraft is due to be launched 17 Apr aboard an Antares booster rocket, from the
NASA Wallops Island launch facility. Its mission is to bring supplies to the ISS.

Yet again, we wish to specially Thank Lt. Colonel ShellEy Rosenbaum-Lipman for her help aid and assistance.

Radio signals coming from deep space.

posted Jan 17, 2019, 4:56 PM by Jay Reynolds

Starstruck  I

Swarm of mysterious radio bursts seen coming from deep space

The bevy of high-speed flashes came from 1.5 billion light-years away, and they include one exceedingly rare repeating burst.

Astronomers have detected 13 high-speed bursts of radio waves coming from deep space—including one that regularly repeats. While the exact sources remain unknown, the new bevy of mysterious blasts does offer fresh clues to where and why such flashes appear across the cosmos.

Fast radio bursts, as they are known to scientists, are among the universe's most bizarre phenomena. Each burst lasts just thousandths of a second, and they all appear to be coming from far outside our home galaxy, the Milky Way.

Since these bursts were discovered in 2007, their cause has remained a puzzle. Based on estimations of the known range of their frequencies and an understanding of activity in the universe, scientists expect that nearly a thousand of them happen every day. But to date, only a handful have been found.

Now, a team using the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, or CHIME, has announced the additional 13 new detections, including an especially rare repeating burst. Until now, only one other repeating fast radio burst was known to exist.

“The repeater,” as it being called, and its 12 counterparts came from a region of space some 1.5 billion light-years away, the team reports today in the journal Nature. All 13 new bursts have the lowest radio frequency yet detected, but they were also brighter than previously seen fast radio bursts, leading the team to think the low frequency has something to do with the sources’ environment.

“It doesn't mean that they're traveling from further away,” says study author Shriharsh Tendulkar, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of physics at McGill University. “As light propagates through the hot gas and plasma in the intergalactic medium and the interstellar medium, it has a bunch of different effects on the signal.”

For instance, the radio waves get twisted as they travel through space and can scatter or be absorbed by gas and plasma. The team therefore thinks that all 13 bursts likely originated from dense, turbulent regions inside of their host galaxies, particularly areas with a lot of violent activity, such as near dense supernova remnants or close to black holes.

Deepening mystery

Tendulkar and the team also noticed that the structure of the new repeating burst is strikingly similar to the only other repeater ever found.

“The fact that we see these multiple structures in the burst was very similar to the first repeating fast radio burst. This is very uncommon,” he says. “Now there is this tantalizing evidence that these bursts’ structures are seen only in repeaters.” That suggests that if more fast radio bursts are found with that structure, they may be prime candidates for also being repeaters.

The new repeating burst is brighter than the previous detection, which might be due to the fact that it is 1.5 billion light-years closer, but the team can’t know that for sure. To draw more comparisons, they’ll have to search the skies for the new burst’s host galaxy, which is not a guaranteed find. In the meantime, the team is continuing to use CHIME to observe the region of the sky where these bursts came from, as well as using other radio telescopes to follow up on the finds.

“We are trying to build up clues and trying to understand whether the repeating fast radio bursts and single fast radio bursts are different populations,” Tendulkar says. “Do they come from different objects? Or are they related in some way to each other? We are trying to figure these things out, so that's really exciting.”

What’s more, when CHIME detected these new bursts, it was only running at a fraction of its capacity, and the team is excited to see how many more will appear in their data now that the instrument is fully up and running.

“The CHIME discovery points to a huge potential,” says Shami Chatterjee, a senior researcher at the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science who was not involved in the latest discoveries. “I’m intensely curious how many [fast radio bursts] they are sitting on now. They must have dozens or hundreds.”

Finding yet more bursts means that the odd occurrences could be effective tools for understanding the traces of gas, dust, and plasma that exist in the seemingly empty space between galaxies, called the intergalactic medium, Chatterjee adds.

“Everyone agrees that in the intergalactic medium, it's very hard to have a probe that can tell you about its makeup,” Chatterjee says. “It is orders of magnitude emptier than our own interstellar medium, but because of the [fast radio bursts] that we are now finding, it is going to be one of the few ways that we can probe this medium and understand those environments.”

And for now, Tendulkar notes that the mystery surrounding fast radio bursts remains part of their appeal.

“There is a lot of fun in the not knowing,” he says. “You keep adding more information, but as in all sciences, whenever you solve one mystery, it always opens up three more.”


Current Events November 2018

posted Nov 8, 2018, 5:22 PM by Jay Reynolds

1.  Fly AWAY from the light:  Purdue University scientists found that birds (some, anyway) fly away from blue or red LED lights.  (There was no effect on the birds from ultraviolet, green, or white light.) It’s a possibility that using blue or red lights on aircraft might reduce bird strikes in the future.

2.  MASCOT landers successfully land on asteroid:  As reported in last month’s AE current events, the Japan space agency sent the Hayabusa2 probe to the asteroid Ryugu; the probe then dispatched two “rovers” (hoppers, really).  The landings went well, and they hopped a few times, then the batteries ran out as anticipated (they were only expected to last for 16 hours; lasted for 17). The picture of Ryugu taken by Hayabusa2 shows one of the MASCOT rovers (rectangle in the upper-right-hand side).  Hayabusa2 itself will eventually land on Ryugu, extract some samples, and return to Earth.

3.  Toyota’s flying car:  Toyota has filed a patent for a “dual mode vehicle” – a.k.a. flying car.  Unlike many other flying cars, this one does not involve a separate propulsion system for flying vs. driving; instead, the wheels will double as rotor blades (so this is a hovercraft).  The vehicle, dubbed, “SkyDrive,” may be tested (via remote pilot) later this year. Toyota hopes to light the 2020 Olympic torch with the vehicle.

4.  Hubble Trouble:  The 28-year-old Hubble Space Telescope is having problems with its gyro stabilization system.  It has six gyros (needing three to work best), and three have already failed. Furthermore, one additional gyroscope is not working as well as it should.  Astronauts last replaced the gyros in 2009. NASA states they believe they’ll be able to fix the malfunctioning gyro.

5.  That’s not a moon, that’s a space station:  The Chinese city of Chengdu is planning to build an artificial moon.  Why? They say the glow from the satellite, estimated to be eight times as much as our “real” moon, will save money, since the city would not need to have any more street lights.  There is no indication of how big the moon will be, how much it will cost, or where in orbit it will be. Not everyone is happy about this, as biologists point out it may interfere with various animals’ behaviors.  And astronomers will not be happy with a “dusk-like glow” from this moon.

6.  Farewell to Opportunity?  NASA lost contact with Mars Rover Opportunity five months ago when a massive dust storm blanketed Mars.  As the storm eased, NASA has been trying to command the rover to wake up, with no success. NASA is prepared to abandon “active listening” soon.  Opportunity has been on Mars since 2004.

7.  NASA gets into Guinness Book of World Records?  NASA has been testing parachutes for use with the Mars 2020 Rover mission by rocketing a payload high above the Earth and deploying the parachutes there, where the atmospheric density is similar to the Martian atmospheric density close to the surface of Mars.  The testing, dubbed ASPIRE (Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment), recently set a record when they deployed a parachute in four-tenths of a second (!).

8.  Another record for NASA:  The Parker Solar Probe, launched this past August, broke the record set by the Helios probe for closest flight to the Sun, passing within 15-million miles (and traveling 213,000 mph).  The previous record was 26-million miles (for point of reference, the Earth is 93-million miles from the Sun). The Parker probe will make multiple passes by the Sun over the next seven years, each one getting closer, until it’s less than 4-million miles away.

Thank you to Lt Colonel Shelley Lipman for you input and ideas and events.

More AE Current Events

posted May 29, 2018, 6:15 PM by Jay Reynolds

1.  USAF retires Predator:  The MQ-1B Predator, the first drone aircraft to be used in warfare, was retired from service on 9 Mar.  Predators have been used since 1995, and were extensively used during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2001.  The Predators’ workload will now be taken up by the MQ-9 Reapers.

2.  Zombie Supernova:  A star has seemed to have exploded as a supernova multiple times, at least five times since 2014 (and possibly more times extending to 60 years ago).  This is unusual because a supernova is considered to be a death knell of a star. Astronomers believe this star has a mass of 50 to 100 times that of our Sun; it’s rare to see a star that massive, and it may date back to the beginning of the universe.

3.  Professor uses augmented reality to teach aircraft systems:  At Western Michigan College of Aviation, Professor Lori Brown has created a holographic system for students to learn aircraft systems, familiarize themselves with cockpit design, etc.  Students can even “preflight” an aircraft using this system.

4.  Here’s why you need to secure cargo in an aircraft:  An AN-12 cargo plane lost over 33% of its cargo just after taking off from a Russian airport.  The cargo (10 tons of gold, platinum and diamond) scattered over the runway as well as up to 16 miles away from the airport, after the cargo apparently shifted and took out the aft cargo door.  Apparently, though, the authorities have recovered all the missing precious minerals.

5.  New way to remove paint and corrosion from aircraft:  The USAF Air Mobility Command (AMC) is testing a new way to remove paint and corrosion from aircraft:  lasers. Traditionally, maintainers will use a sander or a blasting machine, but that can cause too much material to be removed, and also requires the maintainers to wear protective equipment.

6.  Flying car is an autogyro, not a plane:  Dutch company PAL-V has debuted its Liberty flying car at the Geneva Auto Show.  It is an autogyro, not a traditional airplane that’s used in such “hybrids.” (Autogyros are like helicopters, but the main rotor is not powered but instead lets the forward speed from its conventional propeller rotate the blades.)  Be prepared to shell out nearly $400,000 for it, though.

7.  Tiangong-1 plunges back to Earth:  China lost control several years ago over its space station Tiangong-1 (meaning, “heavenly palace”).  The schoolbus-size space station’s orbit finally decayed sufficiently that the Earth’s atmosphere caused the spacecraft to fall back to Earth.  Although it was not known ahead of time where it would land, it fortunately re-entered over the south Pacific Ocean. (Most of it likely burned up on re-entry.)

8.  Stratolaunch has successful taxi tests:  The huge Stratolaunch airplane (with TWO fuselages, powered by six B-747 jet engines, and containing 28 wheels) has undergone taxi tests, reaching a top speed of 40 knots.  Although the initial purpose of the plane was to launch satellites, now Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founder and Stratolaunch funder) says he wants to use it to launch a new space shuttle the company is considering, called “Black Ice.”

Aerospace Education News - April 2018

posted May 29, 2018, 5:51 PM by Jay Reynolds   [ updated May 29, 2018, 5:55 PM ]

NASAStudent Programs and Projects
Looking for something different?  Check out NASA's A-Z list of education opportunities that NASA offers throughout the year.

 Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) 

Want to Talk to an Astronaut on the International Space Station? Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) contacts allow education audiences to learn firsthand from astronauts what it is like to work and live in space. These scheduled contact opportunities are offered to formal and informal education institutions and organizations, individually or working together.  The radio contacts are approximately 10 minutes in length due to the radio communication window permitted by the logistics of orbital passes of the ISS.  During the contact, students interact directly with astronauts and cosmonauts during this communication window using a question and answer format.
      National Coalition for Aviation and Space Education  

AIAA Foundation Educator Achievement Award
Do you know a deserving K-12 Classroom teacher that deserves to be recognized? Honor a K-12 classroom teacher for the work they do to support the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) in its efforts to bring "real world" STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) to the classroom in new and exciting ways.  Nominate teachers who excite and engage students through STEM content and experiences. Through this recognition, AIAA celebrates the "best and brightest" educators for inspiring students. Each award recipient will be honored at the AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala.

A nominee may be any K-12 teacher who supports AIAA in its efforts to bring "real world" STEM experiences to students. Past recipients may not apply for this award a second time. All recipients must be or become an AIAA Educator Associate member. Preference will be given to educators who demonstrate active participation and use of AIAA resources in their classroom.
Questions? Contact Carol Stewart at or 703.264-7623.
Subscribe to the NCASE Monthly Newsletter and find out what thousands of young people and educators are doing!

Uses Model Rocketry for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)
Rocketry is one of the most enjoyable projects 4-H has to offer. 4-H and the National Association of Rocketry have formed a partnershipto help students learn about model rocketry and STEM. 

Delaware County and Pennsylvania State University
Delaware County 4-H, for example, provides Rocketry School Enrichment and After School Enrichment Programs that help students meet Pennsylvania Academic Standards in science. 4-H project books are available for Delaware County, Pennsylvania classroom teachers, home school families, and after school clubs to use with students.  
Civil Air Patrol (CAP)

Promotes and Supports Aerospace Education  

CAP educational programs (for its own members and the general public) help prepare American citizens to meet the challenges of a sophisticated aerospace society and understand its related issues. CAP and the national Association of rocketry have formed a partnership to help students learn about model rocketry and STEM.

National Standards-based Products
CAP offers national standards-based educational products, including a secondary textbook, Aerospace: The Journey of Flight, and the middle-school-level Aerospace Dimensions. Aerospace Education Members can get classroom materials and lesson plans from CAP.

It's spring...the prime time for model rocketry at schoolsEstes Educator works with many educators daily, getting lots of calls and emails from teachers and youth group leaders who have never built and launched a model rocket but who want to do that with their students. Can you guess the two questions first-time rocketry teachers ask the most? They are "How do I get started teaching model rocketry?" and "What materials do I need to teach model rocketry?" These questions can be answered in 13 steps. And don't forget to check out their new downloadable iPhone app!

Help NASA find new disks, homes of extrasolar planets, by classifying images from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer telescope and other observatories. In this citizen science project, you'll view animated images of disk candidates and classify them, distinguishing good candidates from galaxies, asteroids and image artifacts. 


NASANASA Makes Finding Teaching Materials Easy

NASA's Education Materials Finder will help teachers locate resources that can be used in the classroom. Users may search by keywords, grade level, product type and subject. With hundreds of publications and Web sites indexed, the finder is the best way to locate NASA educational resources.
NASA's Adventures in Rocket Science Educator's Guide
This guide contains 25 activities designed for 4-H Clubs, Boys and Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, after-school programs, and other informal education venues. Participants learn about the history and principles of rocketry and NASA's newest rockets -- Ares I and Ares V. While doing these hands-on activities, participants also learn about Hero Engines, parachutes and surface area, altitude tracking, and Newton's Laws Of Motion. Learners can also build four types of rockets and two types of egg drops. Take a look at the Adventures in Rocket Science Guide!
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center Education Page
NASA and the Marshall Space Flight Center strive to help maintain a strong American education system. They pursue this goal by nurturing students' interest in mathematics and science from elementary school through their college years, and by encouraging young people to consider careers in engineering and the aerospace industry. Browse the Marshall Space Flight Center Education Page!
Small NAR LogoNational Association of Rocketry (NAR) offers Teachers and Youth Group Leaders Resources

 The NAR offers Free Resource downloads produced by members who have helped teachers and youth group leaders like yourself all over the United

States.  Check these out and see if any match what you had in mind for your course! 

Space History  


April 2, 1915: President Woodrow Wilson appointed the first 12 members of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). Twenty one days later, on April 23, the Secretary of War called the first meeting in his office. Brig. Gen. George P. Scriven, Chief Signal Officer, was elected temporary chairman, and Dr. Charles D. Walcott, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, was elected first chairman of the NACA Executive Committee. 

April 4, 1930: David Lasser, G. Edward Pendray, Fletcher Pratt and nine others founded The American Interplanetary Society, later the American Rocket Society (ARS), in New York City to promote interest in and work toward interplanetary expeditions and travel. 


April 1, 1945: The U.S. Army fired the first of 17 Jet Propulsion Laboratory Private F rockets at Hueco Range at Fort Bliss, Texas as part of its historic Ordnance/CIT ballistic rocket program. 

April 4, 1960: Frank D. Drake initiated Project Ozma using the 85-foot Howard E. Tatel Radio Telescope at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank, W. Va. It was the first systematic attempt to detect artificial radio signal patterns from nearby stars. After 150 hours of listening, the project returned no evidence. However, Project Ozma was the precursor for many more, increasingly sophisticated searches which continue today.  


April 6, 1965: The United States launched Intelsat I, the first commercial communications satellite, into geostationary orbit. Also called "Early Bird," the satellite provided the first scheduled transoceanic television service and was operational for 3.5 years.  


April 11-17, 1970: NASA launched Apollo 13 via a Saturn-V rocket. About 56 hours into the flight, an oxygen tank in the Apollo service module exploded and damaged several of the systems, including life support. People throughout the world watched, waited and hoped as NASA personnel on the


 ground and the Apollo crew worked together to find a way safely home. Astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert used the lunar module as a lifeboat before returning to the control module for reentry. After a dramatic period of innovative recalculation at Mission Control Center at NASA's Kennedy Space Center inHouston, Texas, the crew returned safely six days later. 

April 26, 1980: The U.S. Department of Defense launched the NavStar 6 navigation satellite via Atlas F rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The NavStar Global Positioning System (GPS) is a radio-positioning system of satellites that provides navigation and timing information to military and civilian users across the globe. 

April 29, 1985: NASA launched the space shuttle Challenger (STS-51B) from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. It was the first operational flight for the Spacelab orbital laboratory series developed by the European Space Agency (ESA). The orbiter made its first crosswind landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California at the end of this mission. 

April 24, 1990: NASA launched the Hubble Space Telescope on space shuttle Discovery (STS-31). Soon after launch, controllers found that the telescope was flawed by a mirror defect only 1/25th the width of a strand of human hair. Scientists found a way to work around it using computer enhancement, and engineers planned a shuttle repair mission to fully correct it. Hubble has made many important astronomical discoveries, including generating images of galaxy M87 and providing evidence of a potentially massive black hole. 

April 3, 1995: NASA launched the MicroLab 1 mini-satellite on a Pegasus rocket carried aloft by an L-1011 aircraft flying out of Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The mini-satellite carried meteorological experiments designed to track lightning and to provide detailed temperature and moisture profiles across the globe. Data from this mini-satellite has shown that more than 1.2 billion lightning flashes occur around the world every year, with more lightning strikes occurring over land masses than over the oceans. 

April 4, 2000: Russia launched Soyuz TM-30 from The Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on the last Soyuz mission to the 14 year-old Mir space station. Cosmonauts Zalyotin and Kaleri reactivated the uninhabited station and used two Progress spacecraft to raise the station's orbit. Prior to this mission, Mir's orbital plane was only around 120 degrees away from the International Space Station, making transport between the two stations impossible. 

April 15, 2005: Russia launched Soyuz-TMA 6 from The Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan carrying the Expedition 10 crew to the International Space Station. The crew included three astronauts; Sergei Krikalev (Russian), John Phillips (American) and Robert Vittori (Italian.) During the mission, Krikalev broke the record for total time in space. Fifty-four years in March, NASA's Pioneer 4 probe flew within 37,000 miles of the lunar surface. In doing so, the tiny spacecraft flew the first successful American lunar flyby mission.

Current Events in Aerospace

posted Feb 24, 2018, 1:08 PM by Jay Reynolds

Here are some more current events in Aerospace.   Special THANKS to Lt Col Lipman for passing them on.  ENJOY!

1.  Segway meets Back to the Future:  The Zapata company has introduced Ezfly, which allows users to fly through the air on small platform using bodyweight-shifting to steer.  The device has several jet thrusters.  It’s not clear what the range of the device is, or how high it could fly…or how much it would cost!

2.  How’s THAT for a paper airplane?  A 25-year-old from California has spent several thousand hours (over nine years) making a Boeing-777 plane out of…manila file folders.  The plane is incredibly detailed (with support structures, seats/meal carts/bathrooms, working flight-control surfaces, and even working thrust reversers!).He’s now working on the wings. and

3.  Task force greatly diminishes threat from ISIS UASs:  the Combined Joint Task Force fighting ISIS states that they have “choked” the threat to Coalition forces from Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) by “repelling, shooting down, or chasing away” the drones before they can attack personnel or infrastructure.  So far this year, the CJTF has sighted only about six UASs, none of which posed a threat to Coalition personnel.

4.  Would a Europa lander sink upon touching down?  Scientists studying Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, think that the surface of Europa might have the consistency of quicksand, which would potentially doom any attempt of landing a probe on that moon.  The scientists state that the surface is powdery; the powder is composed of small particles with lots of space between them.

5.  More good news for Mark Watney:  NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has identified water ice along some cliff faces.  These are far from the poles where scientists already had seen evidence of water (as well as CO2) ice.  This would be good news for Mark Watney, the hapless astronaut who was accidentally abandoned on Mars in the book, “The Martian.”

6.  But first…let me take a selfie:  NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover took a few minutes out from its work on the Martian surface and took a self-portrait with its imaging equipment mounted on the end of a 7-foot-long boom.  But it’s not like your cell-phone selfie – this one was stitched together from dozens of photos.  Curiosity has exploring Mars since August, 2012.

7.  Planetary definitions:  Back in 2006, astrophysicists (led in part by Neal DeGrasse Tyson) caused a big stir around the world by stating that Pluto was not actually a full-fledged planet, but actually a “dwarf planet.”  But what’s the upper limit in size for a planet?  It appears to be somewhere about 10 times the mass of Jupiter – less than that, the planet forms by accretion (ice and rocks sticking together, building a planet from the center out.  More than 10 Jupiter masses, it will form by collapsing from a cloud of gas, which would create a “brown dwarf” or failed star.

8.  General Aviation pilots help out after California mudslides:  After the Thomas Fire was followed by heavy rains, and then horrific mudslides, over 50 pilots volunteered to fly trapped victims to doctor’s appointments for free.  These victims were unable to drive, since U.S. 101, the main north-south highway in the area, was buried by the mud.

Cobb County's new Aviation Themed park

posted Dec 4, 2017, 9:04 AM by Jay Reynolds

Hey, Cobb: That $2.7M aviation-themed park just opened

4:54 p.m Friday, Nov. 10, 2017  Things to Do in Atlanta
Town Center CID
Here's a look at the aviation-themed park that opened Nov. 10. It is a $2.7 million Town Center CID project.

There’s a new place to play in Cobb County.

An aviation-themed park opened near the Cobb County International Airport-McCollum Field (of course) on Friday. The county approved the park in February.

According to organizers, the three-acre Aviation Park cost $2.7 million and was funded by the Town Center Community Improvement District and the Town Center Community Alliance.

This is the sketch from when the park was a mere proposal. Town Center Community Improvement District

But how aircraft-inspired are we talking?

Well, there’s an airplane-shaped climbing rope web, control tower-themed bathrooms and the picnic pavilion is designed to look like a wing.

And the whole thing is located near the end of the airport’s runway, which is why there’s an open area designed to specifically watch planes in flight.

To find it, you’ll want to search this address: 2659 Barrett Lakes Blvd., Kennesaw.

December Current Events

posted Dec 4, 2017, 8:57 AM by Jay Reynolds

Another rounds of current Aerospace events courtesy of Lt Col Shelley Rosenbaum Lipman, CAP.


 1.  Curiosity discovers evidence of water on Mars:  The NASA Curiosity rover, which has been exploring the Martian surface for the last five years, has been imaging the surface.  Now some of those photos show evidence of water-rock interaction.  Spectrographic observations have revealed Hematite (an iron-oxide mineral) in some of the rocks.  Hematite usually forms in the presence of water.

2.  Printing in Space:  Believe it or not, astronauts aboard the International Space Station have been using an Epson 800 inkjet printer for the last 17 years.  (Well, not the same printer, but the same model.)  Since that’s old technology, NASA worked with HP to create a new printer – the “ENVY Zero-Gravity Printer,” which is due to be sent to ISS sometime next year.  It’s not straight-forward to design a printer for use in space – it needs to handle paper in zero gravity, handle ink waste, be flame retardant, and be power efficient.

3.  China building spaceplane:  The China Aerospace Science & Technology Corporation (CASTC) is apparently well on its way to developing a spaceplane that will take off and land horizontally.  It appears the spaceplane will use ramjet propulsion shortly after take-off, and then switch again to rocket motors.  The first flight may occur as soon as 2020.

4.  Water on Enceladus:  Not only is there the possibility of water on Mars, but the Cassini space probe has produced evidence that Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, has had liquid water for several billion years.  This may be sign that life may have formed (or may form in the future).  It is not clear why Encledadus is so hot – the tidal forces (caused by its close proximity to Saturn) do not explain the heating; it may be due to the composition of Enceladus’ core.

5.  Star Wars for the US Air Force?  Or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?  The Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) has awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin to develop a laser weapon that would be placed on “a tactical fighter jet” as part of the Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) program.  Testing on this device might occur as early as 2021.  It’s not clear whether laser weapons would be useful – lasers require lots of energy, don’t have a very large range, and they don’t do well in haze, smoke or dust.

6.  B757 can be hacked:  A group from government, industry, and academia demonstrated that they could remotely hack into a Boeing-757.  Apparently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has known this for several years.  It’s not clear whether a software fix has been created yet, or whether newer aircraft are vulnerable (the B-757 that DHS used was a “legacy” version).

7.  Dream Chaser has its first glide:  Sierra Nevada’s “Dream Chaser” (which looks like a small version of the Space Shuttle) had its first successful glide and landing on a runway, after it was released from a helicopter.  Sierra Nevada is one of three companies which will be supplying cargo to the International Space Station (along with SpaceX and Orbital ATK) from 2019 through 2024.  Sierra Nevada believes its first cargo flight to ISS will be in 2020.

8.  New wind tunnel for MIT:  MIT’s 79-year-old wind tunnel will be replaced by a new state-of-the art tunnel.  It can test up to speeds of 200 mph (the current one only goes to 150 mph), and use half the power of the current tunnel while nearly doubling the test-are

a volume.  The new tunnel will be completed in 2020, and will be used by students in advanced dynamics and fluid mechanics.

9.  I’ll have fries with that:  A Hainan Airlines B-787 flew from Beijing to Chicago.  Now, that might not seem like much of an accomplishment, but the fuel for this flight was 100% waste cooking oil.  The Chinese Zhenhai Refining and Chemical Company refined the waste oil into kerosene.  Hainan Airlines already flew a domestic flight on waste cooking oil earlier this year.

Aerospace Information in the News......

posted Jul 12, 2017, 12:04 PM by Jay Reynolds

1. Is Mars made of green cheese? Well, not green cheese, but Swiss cheese…a spectacular photo from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) shows a Swiss-cheese-like landscape, caused by pits in carbon-dioxide ice. There’s also a very deep pit in the picture; researchers aren’t sure whether it’s due to a meteoric impact or a collapse.

2. SpaceX to handle next USAF X-37B launch: The X-37B space plane, which recently returned to Earth after its record-setting 718-day (!) mission in space, will next be launched into space by SpaceX. Previously, the X-37B was launched by United Launch Alliance on its Atlas V rockets. The X-37B, which looks like a small version of the Space Shuttle, is an unmanned vehicle and will be launched “later this year.”

3. Israeli company introduces electric-powered airplane: Eviation, an Israeli startup, introduced an all-electric airplane at the Paris Airshow. It’s anticipated to carry 6-9 passengers, cruise at 240 knots for 600 nm, and weigh just under 12,000 pounds (half of which would be battery weight; it would carry a payload of about 2,750 pounds). Eviation is hoping the first production model would be available by 2020.

4. Global Hawk crashes in California: A USAF RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft, on a positioning flight from Edwards AFB to Beale AFB, crashed near Mt. Whitney (eastern Sierra Nevada). Although there were no injuries, the crash did start a small fire that was extinguished, and the $220-million aircraft was destroyed. No word on what caused the crash.

5. TIGHAR to continue search for Amelia Earhart: The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), which for the last 30 years has been looking to solve the disappearance of Amelia Earhart on July 2, 1937, will be taking a team of dogs from the Institute for Canine Forensics to search Nikumaroro Island for human remains. In 1940, 13 bones were discovered on the island, but after they were shipped to Fiji they were lost. TIGHAR believes the dogs may be able to find the remains of Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan.

6. What is this mysterious aircraft? Many in the aviation industry are all abuzz about a bullet-shaped airplane with a pusher propeller. Sleuths have investigated and discovered the tail number is registered to a company called Otto Aviation Group LLC, the aircraft is called the Celera 500L, and it has (according to the registration) a reciprocating engine. A patent applied for a combined turbocharger and “supplemental thrust device” indicates it would enable competition in the hub-and-spoke method of airline travel.

7. The smell of freshly-baked bread…in space: Bake in Space, a German company, is creating an oven that will work in micro-gravity, and hopes to send it to the International Space Station. Currently, astronauts aboard ISS use tortillas as bread, as (1) the tortillas have a long shelf life; and (2) tortillas don’t create crumbs (which would float around the ISS). Bake in Space is also working on a sourdough bread that would use yeast grown on the ISS.

8. DARPA teaching manners to robots: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is working on “teaching” social norms to robots so they can interact better with humans. They hope that eventually the robots’ artificial intelligence will allow them to figure out on their own in new situations how to act.

9. Army, Navy, Air Force…Space Corps? The U.S. Congress has pushed the Department of Defense to establish a Space Corps to improve America’s military readiness in space. Although the Space Corps would be a separate branch of the military (even having its own representation on the Joint Chiefs of Staff), it would be overseen by the Secretary of the Air Force. Current SecAF Heather Wilson (a former CAP cadet) opposes the creation of the Space Corps.

Thank you to Lt. Colonel Shelley Rosenbaum Lipman for passing on this great aerospace information......

F-35 The Future of Warfare.

posted Sep 22, 2016, 4:45 PM by Jay Reynolds

Here is an article on from Business Insider about the new F-35 and  what the future of warfare looks like.   Wit all the potential pilots we have as cadets, it would be great to see a couple of them go on to fly this incredible plane.

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