Wednesday, July 24, 2024

NASA Langley Presents Advancements in Technology, Recognizes Hidden Figure

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson welcomes visitors and press in the NASA Langley Research Center Hanger where the event took place. (WYDaily/Dominic Catacora)

WILLIAMSBURG — On Feb. 24, NASA Langley Research Center held an event to present a variety of technologies that the center has been researching and developing over the past couple of years.

Representatives from NASA, including NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, Deputy Administrator Pam Melory, and Hidden Figures Aeronautical Engineer Christine Darden were present at the event.

Dr. Christine Darden, “Hidden Figures” aeronautical engineer who has contributed decades of research to NASA. (WYDaily/Nancy Sheppard)

“This Center [The NASA Langley Research Center] is a very important part, and it’s a legacy center because a lot of the early space flight stuff took place right here,” said NASA Administrator Nelson as he gave a speech in the NASA Langley Research Center’s hanger. “It was this center that, the mathematicians, when John Glenn flew, he wanted one of those mathematicians as a backup to make sure the computer was correct on his trajectory.”

Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) as well as Reps. Bobby Scott D-Va. 3rd District), Rob Wittman (R-Va. 1st District), and Elaine Luria (D-Va. 2nd District) were also there to tour the hanger that had been filled with various research presentations. All representatives had a moment to speak at a podium about the importance of the work being done at the research center.

“This is a facility that has an enormous, enormous legacy. I think people in Hampton knew about Dr. Christine Darden and her colleagues through that remarkable film Hidden Figures,” said Senator Warner. “Their remarkable only-in-America kind of story was shared with the rest of the country and the rest of the world.”

Research and Development Presentations


(WYDaily/Dominic Catacora)

MELDI is an entire instrument suite that’s installed in the heatshield of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) aeroshell.

It will be used to gather data on aerothermal, thermal protection systems, and aerodynamic performance characteristics of the MSL Entry Vehicle when it makes its entry and descent into Mars. MELDI will provide key data for future Mars missions.

X-57 Maxwell

A scale model of the X-57 Maxwell. (WYDaily/Nancy Sheppard)

The X-57 Maxwell is an experimental 460-volt battery-powered airplane. The plane features 14 electric motors that are integrated into the wing set.

The project has been responsible for producing research and developments into electric propulsion systems for aircraft.

The goal of the X-57 project is to demonstrate that electric propulsion can prove to be quieter, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly.

New High-Efficiency Aircraft Engines

(WYDaily/Dominic Catacora)

The NASA Langley Research Center has also been making progress in its efforts to develop new aircraft engines capable of higher efficiency and emission reduction.

“Through the sustainable flight partnership with U.S. Industry, we’re working on game-changing, advanced aircraft concepts and technology,” said strategic technical advisor for the Advanced Air Vehicles Program Rich Wahls. “We’re working on operational improvements and we’re working with the community to enable the uses of sustainable aviation fuels.”

These high-efficiency aircraft engines are part of a goal to reach Net-Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050.

Air and Cloud Measurement Technology

HU25 Falcon Jet. (WYDaily/Nancy Sheppard)

Another development is air analysis and cloud probing technology.

A HU25 Falcon Jet is responsible for measuring the composition of the air, the composition of particles and the size of particles, and gases in the air. The aircraft can also measure the properties of clouds.

The jet uses a special apparatus called “Cloud Probes” that are attached to the wings and to the top of the aircraft.

The project has been flying research missions for about 2 and a half years.

Luke Ziemba, a NASA Research Physical Scientist has been involved in the program’s research and development.

Picture of the Cloud Probe attached to the wing of the HU25 Falcon Jet. (WYDAILY/Dominic Catacora)

“Right now we’re sort of in the measurement phase of this project,” said Ziemba. “So we’re going to fly for about 3 years to gather all the data together, and then we’ll put together a big database and all of our scientists will then crunch on it and that will go into trying to improve how models can parameterize the interactions between particles and clouds.”

NASA Langley Research Center Aerodrome No. 8. (WYDAILY/Dominic Catacora)

Other projects from NASA Langley Research Center include the “Langley Aerodrome No. 8”, and Sonic boom airplane technology that helps to silence the noise created by a sonic boom.

More information on NASA and space exploration can be found on NASA’s official website.

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