Dawn Co-investigator Visits Ohio Aerospace and Space Science Students in Cleveland, OH
By Danitra Donatelli

Dr. Lucy McFadden presenting with Ion model
Dr. Lucy McFadden explains the dynamics of the ion propulsion system used on the Dawn spacecraft.
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Dr. Lucy McFadden delivered the keynote address at the Fifteenth Annual Ohio Space Grant Consortium Student Research Symposium held at the Ohio Aerospace Institute and attended presentations delivered by Ohio college and university students who were awarded financial support to conduct research in their field of study. Student research projects included engineering topics ranging from Synthetic Aperture Radar Feature Extraction for Object Discovery to Cardiovascular Biomaterials. The education-related studies focused on the effectiveness of various approaches and materials on the national math and science education standards, computer and technology-related research for scientific and industrial application, and physical-science research—such as follow-up studies conducted on near-Earth objects (like asteroids) and observing deep-space objects using standardized photometric filters. 

Ion team at NASA's Glenn Research Center
Dr. Lucy McFadden visits the Ion team at NASA's Glenn Research Center in the Electric Propulsion Laboratory (EPL).
Left to right: Michelle Doehne, Dr. Lucy McFadden, Scott Benson, Dan Herman.
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Following the research symposium, Solar System Ambassador and Professor, Jay Reynolds, and NASA Glenn Visitor Center Lecturer, Mike Blair, led Dr. McFadden and a team of student scholars on a behind-the-scenes tour of NASA's Glenn Research Center. Michelle Doehne and Scott Benson then hosted a tour of the Electric Propulsion Laboratory (EPL) facility and the Electric Propulsion Research Building (EPRB) where next generation ion engines are under development and currently being tested. The group was not only able to peer inside the 15' x 60' space environment simulation VF-5 chamber, but also had an opportunity to look inside one of the chambers used to simulate the same ion propulsion technology that will propel the Dawn spacecraft on its journey to Ceres and Vesta.

After touring the EPL and EPRB, aerospace engineer Matt Melis took the group on a tour of the NASA Glenn Ballistics Impact Laboratory where tests are run on shuttle parts to determine their strength and durability.

Following their tour of NASA Glenn, Dr. McFadden joined Professor Reynolds and his team of students for dinner at the 100th Bomber Squadron restaurant, which features a direct view of planes taking off and landing at the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport airfield. Over dinner, Dr. McFadden shared her wealth of knowledge with the students, and answered questions they had about the Dawn Mission.

  Dr. McFadden, Jay Reynolds, and student scholars

Dr. McFadden, Jay Reynolds and student scholars at 100th Bomber Squadron restaurant. Left to right: Karen Wilson, Danitra Donatelli, Dr. Lucy McFadden, Jay Reynolds, Melissa Ruminski, Jessie Mutch + Enlarge image

Upon their departure from the restaurant, the group was treated to a beautiful crescent Moon with a dazzling Venus high in the sky—the perfect ending to a day filled with hopes and dreams for science and space exploration: past, present and future.

At the astronomy day festivities at NASA Glenn Research Center on April 21, Dr. McFadden gave a presentation illustrating the results of the “Deep Impact” Mission to Comet Tempel 1 and gave an overview of the upcoming Dawn Mission to asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres.

Student Christa Ditterson star gazing

Student Christa Ditterson enjoys the activities at the Star Gazing event, April 21 partnered by NASA Glenn, Schuele Planetarium & Cuyahoga Astronomical Association. + Enlarge image


Presentations from various aspects of astronomy, from amateur to professional activities were presented to audiences throughout the day, including a fascinating presentation on the Near Earth Orbiting Asteroid research conducted locally. Students from Cleveland State University & Lakeland Community College have formed a collaboration called the Astronomical Research Partnership, working together to photographically track and investigate these amazing objects in our solar system. Their recent successes include qualifying their observatory for reporting astrometric observations to the Minor Planets Center.

Ion exhaust   Ion testing stand   Aerospace engineer Matt Melis with shuttle parts
Ion exhaust.
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  Ion testing stand.
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  Matt Melis, aerospace engineer, explains how tests are run on shuttle parts to determine strength and durability.
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