National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Week 4

Monday, June 28

The Glennterns awoke on Monday morning of Week 4 after an exciting weekend of Rock ‘n Roll, Science, and Roller Coasters.   The time had certainly flown by so far!  It seemed just like yesterday that everyone was off to their first day of work at Glenn, though in reality it was the hundredth time that the Cheerful Hotel Lady had bid “the Happy Group” good morning thus far.  As usual, the Academites gathered at the Glenn cafeteria to eat and chill out before a long day of work.  Thankfully, CNN had decided not to air more depressing news about oil-covered depilated seagulls, instead choosing to discuss another poor bird, the late Senator Byrd from West Virginia.  Kylee joked that the Senator was “like a Sith Lord”, who some suspected “had died years ago” and had been mechatronically animated for some time now.  After more ranting about politicians, the Glennterns finally broke up to head to work and face the day.

The afternoon brought a welcome relief from the strenuous research all were conducting, in the form of a fascinating, inspiring, and eye-opening presentation about the wide world of Passive Millimeter Wave Imaging devices and other such things.  Among the most important tidbits of information gleaned was that it is possible to avoid a Predator by covering yourself in mud, just like Arnold.  All the Glennterns filed this away for possible use on the upcoming California trip, which was sure to be an adventure.

Energized after the riveting talk, the Academites headed back to work.  Nathan, Kylee, and Adam, along with another Glenn intern, wanted to stretch their legs and enjoy the glorious Ohio weather and so decided to walk back.  The sunshine was not to be, however.  Only minutes into their trek, mean-spirited clouds rolled in overhead and began dumping water upon them.  At first they hid in a random-but-dry looking building off on the side of the street, but only stayed for a minute after unsuccessfully attempting to call Ron for a ride.  Instead they made their way back out into the light rain… only to find that it was quickly becoming a downpour.  Thankfully, Robyn arrived on the scene, completely unexpectedly, with her vehicle and saved the soaked interns from another 5 minutes of walking outside.  The fact that the car already had three passengers did not stop any of the sopping wet interns from cramming inside!

Having finished work at 5 PM, the Glennterns returned back to the Sweet Suites to eat dinner and take a load off before the weekly rap session.  Ron presented information about the upcoming DC trip and a spirited discussion about one suspiciously obtained stuffed gorilla took place.  The Glennterns then met about the group project, and, at 10:30 PM, finally broke to head to bed and do it all over again Tuesday.

Tuesday, June 29

Today was a pretty normal day. Once again the tired academy students assembled in the comforting halls of their lovely summer home. After Kylee found her badge, which had been hiding in plain sight all along, we were off to Glenn. Breakfast featured the usual talk followed by the viewing of a hilarious Alabama campaign ad. Ryan soon discovered he had made a terrible mistake by ordering two eggs instead of the delicious French toast the majority of the RA’s were enjoying.  Just before lunch there was lecture on the dangers of texting while running from tigers, or something along those lines. Seven members from the audience were chosen to come up and share their answers from the exam they were taking on the spot. Luckily no academy students were unfortunate enough to be sitting in the chosen seats. After lunch Adam, Nathan, Chelsey, Ryan, and Kylee attended a tour of the SLOPE lab, which was really cool. They got to play with old lunar buggy wheels and the new wheels made from springs.  They even got to take control of the Scarab, a lunar probe prototype.

Wednesday, June 30

As usual, the Glennterns gathered Wednesday morning for the usual breakfast in the cafeteria.  French toast seemed to be what most people were munching on as the usual banter ensued.  A big topic of conversation was getting ready for the upcoming weekend trip to Maryland, second only to the previous day’s “Politics of Alabama” YouTube video series.  Soon 20 minutes has gone by, and the group broke to go work with their PIs for the morning.

Luckily they didn’t have to work for long, because today was Tour Day!  At 1:30 PM the Glennterns gathered at Building 110 for a tour of the Zero-G facility with other summer students and staff.  Little did anyone realize that there was a 510 foot hole in the ground underneath one of Glenn’s buildings!  This concrete-lined tube is used for putting science and engineering experiments in simulated zero-g free fall for five seconds, after which the dropped payload is slowed (at 65 Gs) by packing peanut-esque material.  And just for kicks, the cover was off the drop chamber, so all the interns got to see what 510 vertical feet actually looked like.  This was either very awesome or very creepy depending on your point of view.

Following the zero-g facility, the tour group headed to the Propulsion Systems Laboratory, or PSL.  Here they learned how Glenn tests jet engines and discussed how NASA runs its data acquisition systems.  It’s pretty wild to think that people just put jet engines into a tube and see what happens.  However, everyone was assured by the tour leader that the shields in the test cells were perfectly capable of preventing shrapnel from blasting through the roof in the event of an explosion.  Good to know.

Finally, the group visited the massive 10×10 supersonic wind tunnel.  Having a test cell cross-sectional area of 10 feet by 10 feet, this was easily one of the largest supersonic wind tunnels in the nation.  Peering down the nozzle of such a beast was, as another intern pointed out, “pretty creepy.”  The Glennterns were told that the current experiment set up was for a combined cycle rocket engine, which was neat.

After an exciting two hours of tours, the Glennterns headed back to work pumped up about what they had seen and relieved that they didn’t have to listen to more eleven-and-a-half part questions from Question Guy.  Soon everyone finished up the day and headed home.

The evening after work was spent getting ready for the next day’s road trip.  Visits to the mall, the dry cleaner, and the hotel’s laundry room were in order as everyone scrambled to get their stuff together.  At precisely 9:00 PM, Ron’s truck was loaded up with (sadly) no additional room for the previously acquired stuffed gorilla.  Oh well!

Thursday, July 1

Today we were heading to DC. The morning featured the usual “assemble, travel, eat, disperse to work” routine. During work there was a poster presentation which Kylee, Adam, and Nathan attended. At the presentation researchers from building 301 discussed their work on energy conversion technologies such as stirling engines and fission power systems designed for the Moon and Mars. At noon the entire group was off on their way to DC. The drive was long and uneventful.  The most notable thing was Ron’s vehicle not stopping for gas or restrooms during the entire trip. By around 7:00pm both vehicles had arrived at the banquet. The food was good and the speakers were phenomenal. John Grunsfeld began the series of talks by recounting his recent trip to space to service Hubble. Dr. Nolta then talked about the European Space Agency, gave a brief history of astronomy, and discussed what we are currently learning with the use of Hubble and what we plan to learn using the new James Webb telescope. The final speaker was Eric Anderson, founder of Space Adventures. He told a story about how he began his business and eventually succeeded at selling a ride to space, ending with a talk about the private space industry. After the banquet the group headed to a sorority house for some restful sleep on the floor.

Friday, July 2

The Glennterns awoke Friday morning to prepare for their visit to Goddard Space Flight Center.  They had spent their first night at the Psi Sigma Sigma sorority house with the Marshal and Goddard Academies.  Despite some sore necks, everyone was pretty psyched about the tour.  Decked out in their finest, the group arrived at GSFC for the usual badging process, which mainly involves standing around and not paying attention to the security guards calling your name.  After taking care of the minor details that allow you to be on lab without getting shot, everyone gathered in a conference room for a discussion by Madeline Butler, a systems engineer with the communications and navigation branch at Goddard.  She spoke about the Deep Space Network, the Space Network, and the Near Earth Network, and NASA’s plans to upgrade these valuable systems for the future.

After the talk, the Glennterns visited Goddard’s test laboratories.  Vacuum chambers, thermal test cells, centrifuges, and the like were the order of the day.  During these tours, everyone got to see the original flight hardware from the latest Hubble servicing mission and learned to not smash your satellite into low-hanging bridges.  Finally, the group visited the vehicle assembly building’s viewing room where the James Webb Space Telescope was being assembled.  The nice technicians waved to everyone and the complexity of that incredible machine was apparent to all.  With this finale, the group returned the sorority house.

After the tour, Ryan, Ron, Adam, Nathan, Kylee, and Chelsey, along with other interns, decided to visit DC while Howard saw Toy Story and Robyn and Shanita hung out with people.  The DC trip proved to be eventful.  The group hit up the Washington Monument, which is way taller than it looks in real life.  The White House (not the Capitol Building!) was also visited, where Chelsey got pictures of the roof-top snipers and Kylee asked how long she’d have to live after throwing her cell phone onto the White House lawn and running like mad.  The DC group met for dinner afterwards at a nice Thai restaurant where Adam was physically unable to consume his food without burning a hole in his intestines.  Everyone else enjoyed their dinner, though, and the group left to head back to College Park to head to bed after a long, fun, and exciting day.

Saturday, July 3

It was hard to get everyone to wake from their comfortable sleeping arrangements, but eventually all had assembled for a trip to Baltimore. First we stopped at an air flight museum. It was small, but for $2 it was worth an hour of our time. Probably the coolest thing was the Wright Flyer simulator, which the majority of users crashed. After that we headed to the city for lunch and a tour of Orioles Ball Park. We then walked to the harbor to check out the mall. Dinner was at the Cheese Cake Factory. We headed home and watched “WALL-e”. After the movie we met to discuss where our group project was headed. Things weren’t looking good. We had bitten off way more than we could chew. An hour of frustration later light bulbs started to go off and we figured out how we could re-work the project to a point where we could actually complete it. An Excel document was created in celebration. Success. The victors retired to their floor.

Sunday, July 4

The Glennterns visited Washington, D.C. on Sunday, ready for a fun day of museums and fireworks.  Anticipating the vast crowds which were sure to show up later that evening, the group set up shop early at the Washington Monument to save a place for the fireworks show later that evening.  Everyone took turns holding down the fort for an hour or so while the rest of the group broke up to see the sights.  The big attraction was, of course, the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.  Friendship 7, the Columbia command module of Apollo 11, and other historic vehicles were on display for all to awe at.  At other times, the Academites checked out the Museum of Natural History, the Capitol Building, and the Lincoln Memorial.

Later in the evening, the fireworks began with lights and bangs as the colorful missiles were fired over the Lincoln Memorial reflection pool.  Soon, however, the grand finale had come and gone and it was time to head back to College Park for the night.

The DC metro system, not unsurprisingly, turned out to be packed with people when the Glennterns arrived.  Skillfully navigating their way through the crowds, the Academites made their way down into the tunnels and hopped on a train back home – all except Ryan, who didn’t make the police cut off on the surface and had to wait for the next set up trains to come through.  Oops! 

After the long day, Nathan, Kylee, Chelsey, Ryan, and Adam went out to Applebee’s on a late night run to find dessert (and did they find dessert!).  The crew returned home sometime before midnight to crash and get some sleep before the next day’s journey back to North Olmsted, Ohio.