Aerospace Education

Welcome to the New and Improved  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.

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.

August Current Events

posted Aug 9, 2016, 6:47 PM by Jay Reynolds   [ updated Aug 9, 2016, 6:48 PM ]

Thank you to Major Shelley Rosenbaum Lipman, CAP for sending us these Aerospace current events.  If you have an interesting Aerospace related event, please let me know.  Thank you! 

 1. One better than Tatooine: Astronomers discovered a gas giant planet in a TRIPLE-star system. This planet is orbiting the brightest star in the system (about 10 times brighter than our Sun) about 7 billion miles away from that star. Another pair of stars circle the brightest one, about 30 billion miles away. (This is as opposed to Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine, which circles a binary star system.)

2. Hybrid-electric plane successfully completes first test flight: The Extra 300, usually found as a staple on the airshow circuit, is the test platform for a hybrid-electric plane powered by a Siemens 260 kW electric motor. The hope is that this type of motor could power a four-seat General Aviation aircraft soon.

3. New dwarf planet found outside Pluto’s orbit: Another astronomical discovery – this time RR245, a small (~400 miles in diameter) dwarf planet far beyond Pluto in the “Kuiper Belt” region. It has a very elliptical orbit, varying from 3 billion to 11 billion miles from the Sun, taking 700 years to orbit once. By comparison, Pluto is about 1400 miles in diameter, and orbits the Sun every 248 years. Although astronomers have discovered other KBO (Kuiper Belt Objects), this is the first one large enough to be classified as a dwarf planet (massive enough to be crushed into a sphere by its own gravity; but unlike “regular” planets, it has not cleared and coalesced its orbital path of other debris) since the designator was created. Of course, Pluto was recently downgraded from a regular planet to a dwarf planet in 2006.

4. USAF may build “Super Warthog”: The Air Force is studying requirements for a new Close-Air Support (CAS) aircraft. This would take the place of the A-10 Warthog, which will be retired soon. The new Super Warthog would include the capability to use laser-guided and precision bombs, and would upgrade the engine. It may be based upon the Raytheon T-X or the A-29 Embraer EMB Super Tucano aircraft.

5. Mars 2020 Rover to proceed with final design: NASA stated that they will complete design and begin constructing the Mars 2020 Rover, a space probe that will be launched sometime in the summer of 2020. This rover will be looking for signs of life (both past signs, as well as current), and will return Martian rock and soil samples to Earth. Additionally, it will have a set of microphones, so for the first time we can hear the sounds from the red planet. There’s a possibility that the rover would also contain “helicopter drones” which would make short flights away from the rover base.

6. EPA says aircraft emissions dangerous: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it plans to reduce aircraft carbon emissions, which it says account for about 2% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Any regulation would depend on the result of the Presidential election (since the regulation wouldn’t be implemented until January, and would have to be coordinated with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

7. “Parachutist” jumps out of plane without ‘chute: Luke Aikens, a skydiver with more than 18,000 jumps under his belt tried something different: he jumped out of a plane over Simi Valley (CA) at 25,000’ without a parachute, landing successfully in a 100’ x 100’ net. Well, okay, he was WEARING a parachute (since this was being broadcast live, the Screen Actors’ Guild required him to wear it), but he didn’t use it. Aikens was the backup to Felix Baumgartner (who set the record for highest skydive in 2012).

8. Forget about Amazon, 7-11 makes first commercial drone delivery: A 7-11 convenience store in Reno, NV did a trial run of a delivery from their store to a customer’s home a mile away. The drone delivered a chicken sandwich, donuts, coffee, candy and Slurpees in about 5 minutes. The customer reported that the coffee was still hot, and the Slurpees still frozen.

9. Is the end in sight for the B747? The Boeing-747, the first wide-body jumbo jet (first flown in 1970) may be approaching the end of its production run. Boeing will be reducing production from 12 per year to six, as airlines look to save costs by using twin-engine aircraft (the 747 has four engines).

May 2016 Current Events

posted May 24, 2016, 4:35 PM by Jay Reynolds

Thank you to Major Shelley Rosenbaum-Lipman for passing on these interesting tidbits. 

1.  We don’t have to worry about space aliens attacking Earth:  An astronomer from Columbia University in NY has come up with a way to use laser beams to either hide or change the image of Earth that space aliens may view.  However, it does require that those on Earth know where the aliens are.

2.  Dogs can fly:  An animal trainer from New Zealand trained three dogs (all of whom were rescue dogs) to fly a plane.  The dogs learned to turn left if a blue light on the glare shield came on, right for a red light, and straight ahead for a white light.  After a certificated pilot took off and climbed to altitude, the dogs took over, and successfully flew the plane through a figure-8.

3.  SpaceX’s Falcon 9 first stage lands on floating platform:  SpaceX launched a supply ship to the International Space Station.  After the first stage exhausted its fuel and dropped away, it landed successfully on a floating platform in the Atlantic, paving the way for a reusable launch system.  The Dragon spacecraft launched by the Falcon 9 then successfully docked with the ISS, unloading 7000 pounds of supplies, including a soft expandable habitat built by Bigelow Industries.

4.  “The Martian,” for real:  SpaceX announced that it plans to send its Dragon unmanned capsule to Mars, perhaps as soon as 2018.  This is a step in the company’s goal to set up a colony of Mars.  This unmanned flight is intended to demonstrate the ability to send large payloads of supplies needed in place on Mars for an eventual manned mission.

5.  Russia launches three satellites:  A Russian Soyuz rocket carried three satellites into orbit, including an astrophysics observatory that will look for gamma-ray bursts, cosmic rays, and near-Earth asteroids.

6.  Japan gives up on its x-ray-observing satellite:  Japan’s Hitomi satellite, which was launched in February and lost communications in March, has been officially written off by JAXA, the Japanese space agency.  Apparently, although the satellite wasn’t moving, the Attitude Control System (ACS) thought it was, so it gave a command to counter the movement (causing the satellite to actually start moving).  Because the ACS wasn’t working properly, it caused the momentum to increase greatly, eventually shedding the solar-cell panels and parts of the satellite.

7.  Solar Impulse 2 successfully lands in California:  The solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 flew non-stop from Hawaii to Mountain View, CA, landing just before midnight.  Solar Impulse had been grounded in Hawaii for several months after a flight from Japan caused problems with the battery system.  This is part of their around-the-world solar-powered flight.

8.  Earth-like planets circling a star in the “habitable zone”:  Astronomers found three planets that are about the same size as the Earth that are orbiting a brown-dwarf star that’s 40 light-years away.  All three planets are within the “habitable zone,” or the distance from a star in which the amount of radiation the planet receives is such that water would be in a liquid form.  The scientists are already working on detecting water or methane molecules on these planets.

Untitled Post

posted Apr 13, 2016, 9:37 AM by Jay Reynolds

Top 5 Aerospace Trends 
of Now and the Future

Flying cars, hybrid vehicles, massive jets, sleek new fighters, and Mars-bound rockets. These are the kinds of things we consider when we think of our latest heights in the endless evolution of human flight: hardware. Indeed, the old cliché about there being a million parts in an airplane is truer now than ever. But those million parts are only a fraction of the story behind what puts any vehicle in the air—and what keeps it there..

1. System Software on the Rise

The code at the heart of any aircraft isn’t something that can be slapped together by the latest Silicon Valley wiz kid. Unlike the programming that makes our apps and video games, airborne software is system dependent. Whoever’s writing the code has got to know every aspect of the hardware....

2. Craft-to-Craft Communication

How a message gets from the cockpit to the landing gear, rudder, or anywhere else, is a relatively self-contained problem, not too different from the controls found in land-based vehicles. But how vehicles talk to each other is another issue....

3. Data Handling

Surveillance vehicles get a lot of attention for political, military, and techie reasons. But in the field of aerospace engineering their development and employment is a much smaller challenge than that of what to do with their product...

4. Flying Commuters

Passenger jets and drones are not the only vehicles that will need to talk to each other in the none-too-far-off future...

 5. Aerospace Engineering Education

Who’s going to put together these systems? The kids, of course. Perhaps the biggest trend in aerospace is the growing interest among students. There are now 65 programs in the U.S., and 25 are stand alone programs. Of the 38,000 new aerospace engineering jobs that opened up last year, 4,000 of them were taken by students. Aerospace is the third most popular field for engineering students. A large percentage of them go into programming, “because they know their software will be implemented on real hardware,” says Yang. “The aerospace profession has expanded form hardware-based science, technology, and engineering, to systems, and even systems of systems-based engineering. At a very high level that trend has become even more important,” he adds.

Michael Abrams is an independent writer.

***You can read the entire article at    but the idea here is that that people with a Aerospace Education and STEM education will have plenty of high paying work in the future.

February smashes global temperature record, says NASA

posted Mar 15, 2016, 5:56 PM by Jay Reynolds

    February smashes global temperature record, says Nasa

NASA announces February exceeded historical average temperatures more than any month in history, making it the third consecutive month to break the record

US to appoint Arctic ambassador
Polar bear on pack ice in the Arctic  Photo: ALAMY

By , Washington

8:00PM GMT 13 Mar 2016

February set global temperature records, NASA announced on Saturday, deviating from historical norms by a wider margin than any month ever recorded, and raising further concerns about global warming.

It was the third consecutive month to break the record, which is calculated by setting the temperature for a particular month against the average temperature from that month between 1951-1980.

February was 2.43F (1.35C) above the norm, easily surpassing the 2.3F (1.14C) margin from January of this year, which also set a record.

The margin was considerably wider in the Northern hemisphere (2.76C) and the Arctic (5.36C).

Updates for February in @NASAGISS temperature analysis. Wow.

— Gavin Schmidt (@ClimateOfGavin) March 12, 2016

Scientists say the unprecedented temperatures were due to man-made climate change and an unusually strong El Niño pattern in the Pacific Ocean.

Prior to this year, the warmest February on record came in 1998, another year with a strong El Niño.

Monthly global temperature findings date back to 1880, but never before have three consecutive months so far outpaced historical averages.

Best adventure holiday dealsIce levels have decreased in the Arctic  Photo: Alamy

In a sign of how significant the jump was this February, Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist who directs the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Nasa, wrote on Twitter that he rarely comments on individual findings but felt the need this month because it was a "special" case.

The unprecedented temperatures have led to unprecedented consequences, particularly in the Arctic where sea ice levels this winter have hit record lows.

AE current events – March 2016

posted Mar 6, 2016, 4:37 PM by Jay Reynolds   [ updated Mar 6, 2016, 4:38 PM ]

Thank you to Maj. Shelley Rosenbaum-Lipman, Wing Aerospace Education Officer, for these topics!

1.  Could fungi survive on Mars?  Astronauts brought two species of fungi from Antarctica to the International Space Station.  There, the fungi were exposed to Mars-like conditions (like an atmosphere that’s predominantly CO2, very low atmospheric pressure, and lots of UV radiation) for 18 months.  Researchers examining the fungi found that 60% of the fungi survived, although only 10% were able to proliferate.

2.  (Water) ice on Pluto:  Scientists reviewing data from last July’s New Horizons flyby of Pluto have discovered that water ice (as well as methane, nitrogen, and carbon monoxide ice) is visible on the planet.  This is believed to be Pluto’s bedrock material showing through.

3.  Finally – a science-fiction movie filmed in space:  Colin Trevorrow, the director for Star Wars 9 (yes, that’s the one after the next Star Wars) said that he’d like to film some of the IMAX film in space.  He pointed out that NASA has filmed IMAX in space since the 1990s.  (In the meantime, we’ll have to settle for ILM-generated space scenes in Star Wars 8, not due out for another two years or so.)

4.  Elon Musk’s next project:  Elon Musk, who’s the CEO of both Space X and the electric-car company Tesla, told engineering students that he’s mulling over building a VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) jet that runs on electricity.  It might even be able to go supersonic.  No word on when (or even whether) he’ll actually start work on that.

5.  The Milky Way has damage history:  Relatively recently (a few hundred-million years ago), a dwarf galaxy (about 1% of our galaxy’s mass) brushed up against the Milky Way.  About 15 years ago, astronomers found that the spiral “arms” of the Milky Way didn’t all line up in the same plane – some arms were higher, some lower.  The theory is that this was due to a small galaxy passing through the Milky Way’s disk.  Now, scientists believe they’ve found the culprit.

6.  Einstein was right!  Physicists at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) announced that they have in fact detected gravitational waves, the first time this has been done since Einstein predicted them about 100 years ago.  The scientists believe these waves were due to an event which occurred about a billion years ago when two black holes merged.  Many think this discovery is worthy of the Nobel Prize.

7.  Drone take-downs:  In the Feb 2016 AE current events, we learned that Airbus is developing a means to jam signals to drones in order to disable them.  Now, a professor at Michigan Technological University is developing a way to actually capture drones that stray into restricted airspace (or even ones that “go rogue”).  The system involves sending another drone after the errant one, and shooting a net to “haul it in.”

8.  Low-tech approach to controlling birds at airports:  At some airports, operators have taken to setting off loud explosives to clear birds away from the runways – birds that can cause collisions with aircraft in the area.  At Traverse City, MI, Piper (a border collie) works 10-hour shifts four days a week chasing birds away…and acts as a good-will ambassador the rest of the time.  He even wears goggles to keep debris out of his eyes as he runs around the field.

9.  New stealth bomber announced:  The USAF showed the first artist rendering of the new B-21 stealth long-range bomber, which will be built by Northrup-Grumman.  Looking much like the B-2 Spirit bomber (i.e., a flying wing), the B-21 is scheduled to be fielded by the mid 2020s.  The $80-billion contract is for 100 bombers.

NASA Still a Top Place to Work....

posted Feb 24, 2016, 1:51 PM by Jay Reynolds

Astronauts train at Johnson Space Center in Houston, United States. Photo by Bill Brassard/EPA/NASA

NASA, which frequently tops the list of best places to work in government, just got more proof that it's mastered the art of recruiting. The space agency received more than 18,000 applications to join its next class of astronauts—which will only have about 14 spots.

This shatters the previous record, from 1978, when NASA was about to start its space shuttle program and received 8,000 applications.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden spoke to On Leadership a while back about how "the biggest leadership challenge today is keeping the workforce motivated, keeping the workforce believing that we are doing what the nation wants us to do."

You can read more about NASA's newest (positive) challenge of whittling down the overwhelming number of interested job applicants in this piece by The Washington Post's Rachel Feltman.

Springfield Stars Astronomy Club

posted Feb 23, 2016, 5:27 PM by Jay Reynolds

Join the Springfield Stars Club on Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the Springfield Science Museum for a panel discussion on Astronomy in the Digital Age. 
​ ​
Discover how the advent of digital technology has brought about a transformation in amateur astronomy and ushered in a golden age of astronomical imaging. 
​ ​
I will join the panel which also includes David Wexler, Richard Sanderson and Alan Rifkin. 
​ ​
Dr. Wexler participates in solar research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Haystack Observatory, Sanderson is curator of physical science at the Springfield Science Museum and Rifkin is an amateur astronomer and local telescope dealer. 
​ ​
Refreshments will be served, and the public is welcome. 
​ ​
The meeting is free for members, with a suggested donation of $2 for non-members.

Also, on March 4 at 7:30 p.m., the Stars Club and the Springfield Science Museum will host "Stars over Springfield," an astronomy adventure for the whole family.
​ ​
 Ed Faits will talk on "Exploring the Planets... To Pluto and Beyond." 
​ ​
A fee of $3 for adults and $2 for children under 18 will be charged.

Meanwhile, the Springfield Republican newspaper nice article about Russian Cosmonauts Launch the Space Race.  More can be found here in this link....

Current Aerospace Education Topics JUL 2015

posted Jul 4, 2015, 9:38 PM by Brian Freeman   [ updated Jul 4, 2015, 9:40 PM ]

Thank you to Maj. Shelley Rosenbaum-Lipman, Wing Aerospace Education Officer, for these topics!

1.  Life, the Universe, and Everything:  First, we had an astronaut take a selfie on ISS while wearing a

Star Trek uniform.  Now, the ISS Expedition 42 (42:  the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything)

crew members are apparently “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” fans, as can be seen by the crew poster

they created!

2.  Boeing patents drone capable of “plugging in” from the air:  Boeing was awarded a patent to allow a

drone (which looks like a dirigible) to deploy a tether to connect to a ground-based (or air- or sea-based)

“charging station” to allow it to have a virtually unlimited flight endurance.

3.  Yet Another Boeing Patent:  Boeing received another patent, this one for a “force field” a la Star Wars

or Star Trek.  But it’s not perfect – it heats up and ionizes the air, so it can’t be deployed for an extended

period of time.  And it deflects light rays, which means those on the inside would be essentially blind to

everything outside the force field.

4.  Airbus unveils all-electric “plug-in” plane:  Airbus showed off its new “E-Fan 2.0” electric two-seat

plane.  It cruises at about 120 knots using what appears to be ducted fan blades.  But don’t count on flying

a long distance with this plane:  the lithium-ion polymer batteries only last about an hour.  Airbus is

working on a four-seat (E-Fan 4.0) version by 2019, and is hoping to have an all-electric airliner by 2050.

5.  More reality imitating art:  A Maryland company is teaming with a U.K. company to develop a

“hoverbike,” which looks something like the vehicles the stormtroopers used on the forest moon Endor in

Star Wars – Return of the Jedi.  The “bike” is actually a quadcopter, and is being developed under

contract with the Army Research Laboratory.  It also may be used in civilian tasks, such as search-and-

rescue, film, and cattle mustering.

6.  Wing skins can “heal” the same way as human skins:  British scientists have created a way of using

“micro spheres” –capsules a few micrometers across filled with a sealing agent – to fix cracks in aircraft

wings.  The micro spheres crack on impact, causing the sealing agent to “glue” the crack together.

7.  Philae Probe – it’s alive!  Probe Philae bounced down onto the surface of a comet seven months ago,

but although the probe initially transmitted scientific data, the probe was partially in shadow, greatly

limiting the amount of sunlight reaching its solar panels.  As a result, after a few days Philae went into

hibernation.  As the comet has been nearing the sun, apparently it’s moved enough so that Philae’s solar

panels have been able to recharge its internal batteries, and it has begun transmitting data again.

8.  Science and nature meet:  Many people living near airports complain about the noise, but Schiphol

Airport in Amsterdam (Netherlands) has done something unique.  They hired an artist who used as his

canvas a park – and he created a series of ridges in a nearby park that approximated the wavelength of the

noise from overhead jets.  They found the noise dropped by about 50%.

9.  SpaceX Falcon launch failure:  SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, on a resupply mission to the International

Space Station, exploded less than three minutes into the flight.  CEO Elon Musk indicated there was an

overpressure in the second-stage LOX (Liquid OXygen) tank, causing the explosion.  NASA indicates

this will not adversely affect the astronauts on the ISS.

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