HNC Home Page
News Business Arts & Life Sports Opinion Calendar Archive About Us
SHARK GIRLS GET READY: Click the Arts&Life index for a look backstage as the actors prepare for 'West Side Story.' / Photo by Julie Garcia

Today's word on journalism

Monday, April 24, 2006

Dueling masters on words:

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."

--William Faulkner, writer (1897-1962), on Ernest Hemingway, writer (1899-1961)

"Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?"

--Ernest Hemingway, writer (1899-1961), on William Faulkner, writer (1897-1962)

Students lift off with experience

By Lindy Phippen

March 10, 2006 | The sky is not the limit for Utah Sate University's Microgravity Research Team (MRT), as it continues to maintain the University's long held reputation as the university that sends more experiments into space than any other university in the world.

MRT, formerly known as the Get Away Special (GAS), is an undergraduate and graduate program inviting students and faculty of all disciplines to participate in space research. As MRT creates state-of-the-art aerospace technology through a trial and error process, the students learn skills they can apply at a hands-on level and are provided with practical job experience.

Rebecca Mitchell, chemistry major and current MRT member said, "Even though I'm not a physics or engineering student, I fit right in. along with other science-related majors, students from psychology, journalism, graphics and education departments can play a vital part in the structure of the team."

The team was first developed in October 1976, when R. Gilbert Moore, Morton Thiokol's executive and former USU professor, attended a conference where NASA administrators announced the development of a new opportunity for space research aboard the newly designed space shuttle. MRT's Web site states, Moore was so excited about the educational opportunities this program would provide he stood up in the middle of the presenter's speech and asked how much each payload would cost. Moore took out his personal checkbook and bought the first Get Away Special payload reservation. He then donated the reservation to Utah State University creating the first Get Away Special Team at USU.

"It is exciting to think that former and current Team members and their advisors are currently doing space research and engineering at NASA and in private industry." R. Gilbert Moore said.

For over two decades (1977-present) USU has been the leader in student space research sending more experiments into space than any other University in the world. On June 27, 1982 USU sent the first payload experiment into space and continued to send 10 more payloads into space, for a total of eleven experiments, just one less than NASA. (A payload is a 2.5 to 5 cubic aluminum container placed in the space shuttle containing microgravity experiments).

NASA announced they will no longer be flying experimental payloads into space due to the impending retirement of the shuttle program. MRT determined to continue their activism in space research, have been working to create alternative methods to assure their experiments make it to space. The Team has been creating experiments for an ISO-CRATE (Student Outreach Contained Research Available to Educators.) An ISO-CRATE is completely self contained, unlike a payload which relies on the power exuberated by the space shuttle. The ISO-CRATE weighs about seventeen pounds and is only the size of a shoebox.

The MRT is also working on the RELM (Remote Educational Learning Module) similar to the ISO-CRATE, which is an aluminum box. The RELM contains a controller for students to program and control their experiments as well as a digital camera to record their experiment throughout the flight.

The MRT is currently involved with the construction of the sixth MISSE (Materials International Space Station Exposure) experiment. The MISSE is two aluminum suit case like structures which will be attached to the outside of the International Space Station. The small suitcase like structures will be filled with about 145 different material samples such as copper, zinc and aluminum. Once attached to the International Space Station the "suitcases" will be opened exposing the various materials to the space environment. The idea behind this project is to discover how the sample materials handle and 'weather' in space to provide knowledge that will further indicate the best materials to be used for space/satellite construction.

"It is important for space research to continue because of the advantages and breakthroughs it has provided for life on earth," Andrew Auman, an MRT member, said.

Space research has indirectly improved the quality of life for humanity. From the development of rubber from a NASA experiment to the making of artificial hearts, and everything in between including firefighting gear, SCUBA gear and computers. Space research has made it possible to advance technology because there is not a more extreme environment than space.

Our earth life has become dependent upon technology. Our cell phones, TVs, debit and credit cards, checking accounts and GPS systems, all work with the use of satellite systems. Space research has determined and will continue to determine what materials are less affected by electrical storms making it possible to find less expensive materials to construct satellite systems.

The MRT allows students and faculty to be a part of space, technological advances and team that is known as one of the world's premier student space research programs.


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
Best viewed 800 x 600.