UB Undergraduate Team Explores Weightlessness, Courtesy of NASA

Release Date: August 20, 2010 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A team of University at Buffalo students, all members of the UB student chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, was selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to spend a week in Houston in June at NASA's Johnson Space Center to test an experiment the students had designed in simulated weightlessness.

The UB team was one of just 14 selected from more than 70 proposals solicited nationwide, based on scientific merit and education outreach potential.

NASA chose the UB students to participate in its Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program, which gives teams of undergraduate students from across the nation the opportunity to propose, design, build, fly and evaluate a reduced gravity experiment.

The UB students who participated are:

Bradley Booth, a sophomore, of Mohawk

Sandra Czarnecki, a sophomore, of Athens

Thomas Guile, a sophomore, of Coxsackie

Nikeale Haynes, a sophomore, of Brooklyn

Carl Javier, BS, '10, of Flushing

Dave Pohl, a senior, ofWest Seneca

Nathan Roscup, BS, '10, of Remsen

John Sisti, a senior, of Orchard Park

From June 17-26, the UB students tested their experiments aboard NASA's "Weightless Wonder," a microgravity aircraft that can produce periods of weightlessness lasting 18 to 25 seconds at a time by flying a series of about 30 parabolas, a steep climb followed by a free fall, over the Gulf of Mexico.

The students spent last semester preparing for the experiment, doing the scientific and mathematical work to develop their research, entitled, "Relative Attitude Determination for Satellite Formation Flying." At the same time, they also were required to write proposals to attract grants, scholarships and sponsors in order to support their work.

"We learned a lot about being team players and meeting project deadlines and we learned to write engineering reports in order to explain our experiment to the NASA engineers," says UB team captain, Nathan Roscup. "During the experiment, we also learned how our bodies, or stomachs I should say, react to zero gravity," he adds.

John Crassidis, PhD, UB professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Richard Linares, a graduate student in the department, are the team's advisors.

The team's project included an outreach effort to students at South Park High School in Buffalo in which the UB students gave a presentation on career opportunities, college majors and scholarship programs. They also gave a paper airplane demonstration to teach the students some principles of aerodynamics.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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