AEO's Bulletin Board

Wright Brothers Patent is Missing

posted Nov 8, 2012, 11:44 AM by Winston Cutshall

As is being reported by Air and Space Magazine's blog, the National Archives is currently not able to place their hands on the original copy of the Wright Brothers patent for their airplane.  Read more at the Air and Space Magazine Blog.

Airbus A380 Cockpit Panorama

posted Oct 26, 2012, 11:10 AM by Winston Cutshall

I think the title says it all on this one, and there are some things that I didn't expect to see.  First, the video camera that is displayed on the lower center display that shows the overhead view of the aircraft from the prospective of the tail.  Secondly, I noticed a radio in the overhead panel, which I assume is a backup.  Lastly, I was impressed by the number of cup holders scattered through.  I counted nine.  I guess the crew gets thirsty on those long flight. 

For refrence, the A380 is the world's biggest jet airliner, and it carries about 525 passengers for a max range of 8,200 nautical miles.  It's maximum takeoff weight is an astonishing 1,239,000 pounds!

Curiosity Rover / Mars Science Laboratory Under Construction

posted Jul 19, 2012, 12:16 PM by Winston Cutshall   [ updated Aug 5, 2012, 10:41 PM ]

In just a little more than two weeks, we should be hearing about the newest rover to land on Mars – the Curiosity Rover.  Built at the California Institute of Technology and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, this SUV sized rover will carry the largest and most advanced suite scientific instruments to ever land on the planet’s surface.  The goal of the mission is to study the habitability of Mars.  

In May of 2009 I was lucky enough to visit the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for an open house.  These annual events are an amazing opportunity to not only learn more about all of the current missions at NASA, but also to meet many of the scientists who are working on the missions.  Seeing the actual hardware, looking into the actual labs, and talking with the actual investigators is an unparalled opportunity.  

At the 2009 open house, one of the "must see" stops on the tour was Building 179 – the Spacecraft Assembly Facility.  Inside the giant cleanroom, the JPL team was beginning the final assembly of the Mars Science Laboratory.  

Looking down, the skycrane was more than recognizable.  Unlike previous rover missions, this craft will not be landing in a shell that is protected by several airbags.  instead, the rover will be attached to the skycrane and parachute through most of the atmosphere.  Then, when it is really close to the ground, the skycrane will fire it's rockets, bringing itself to a hover, while the rover is lowered to the surface.  In the picture, you can see all the rocket motors on the outside perimeter of the craft, and some of the fuel tanks mounted in the interior.  

Straight ahead, the heat shields that will protect the skycrane and the rover durring the entry into the planet's atmosphere were sitting in the background of the room, and the two wheel assemblies for the rover were inside the carts in the foreground.

Just to the right of the carts and heat shields, the core of the rover was mounted upside down on a service stand. Further to the right of the rover shell are motors and drive systems that are covered by a protective blanket.  

The actual spacecraft that will carry the mission from Earth to Mars was also in the room, though it was hard to see because it was surrounded by scaffolding.  

A few photos ago did you notice that the wheel assemblies were missing a few wheels?  Thats because they were still being finished.  Next to the assembly facility is the machine shop, where many of the parts of the rover are made.  This rover wheel was in the final stages of quality assurance before going into the assembly facility.  The wheel was placed on a special, extremely level table, where a computer probe systematically touched the finished wheel, and compared the actual dimensions of the part with the dimensions the computer model specified for the wheel.

Leaving the assembly and manufacturing area of the JPL campus, one of my last stops on the tour was the Deep Space Mission Control facility.  This room one room handles all of the signals from nearly every space probe controlled by NASA.  From this one point, each mission will then get the data in their own separate control rooms.  Since this was a weekend when there were no large missions, the room was rather quiet.  On the big boards, there are two displays with colored lines.  These represent the windows when each mission will be in view of their antennas.

NTSB Report on Datalink Radar

posted Jun 23, 2012, 7:52 AM by Winston Cutshall   [ updated Jun 23, 2012, 7:54 AM ]

The NTSB just issued an alert about the pitfalls of datalink radar when used as the primary means of avoiding storms.  The key problem with using this type of information is that the picture is not live, and can be delayed several minutes.  Because of this, the cockpit system will show how old the radar image is that is being displayed.  However, the NTSB is emphasizing that there is an additional delay in the data that is not taken into account by the cockpit system - the age of the individual radar pictures used to make the nationwide mosaic.  So, there is a compounded delay, which could mean that even a new image that is freshly downloaded could in actuality be over twenty minutes old.  So, when we are flying, we need to be accutly aware that a fast moving cell that we can see on the MFD may actually be much further along than where the datalink systems claims it is.  Lets be safe out there!

Remembering the Doolittle Raid, 70 Years Later

posted Apr 18, 2012, 12:53 PM by Winston Cutshall

NPR delivered a great story which contained an interview with one of the servicemen involved in the mission.  The story also talked about the events planned by the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

Interactive Panoramas on Space Shuttle Discovery

posted Apr 18, 2012, 12:44 PM by Winston Cutshall   [ updated Apr 18, 2012, 12:55 PM ]

This is about as close to the flight deck as any of us may get.  Be sure to go full screen!  

There are many other views, which can be located here:

Flying the Pattern in a U2

posted Mar 23, 2012, 9:31 PM by Winston Cutshall   [ updated Mar 23, 2012, 9:39 PM by J Scott Carter ]

Night Vision for Pilots

posted Mar 23, 2012, 9:41 AM by Winston Cutshall

This is a really interesting and comprehensive look at the physiological process that allows the human eye to see at night.  The article has been adapted by the  American Optometric Association from "Night Vision Manual for the Flight Surgeon", written by Robert E. Miller II, Col, USAF, (RET) and Thomas J. Tredici, Col, USAF, (RET).  The image is from Wikipedia.

Article is here:

Riding a Solid Rocket Booster

posted Mar 22, 2012, 9:31 PM by Winston Cutshall   [ updated Mar 22, 2012, 9:31 PM ]

NASA will soon be releasing a DVD, BluRay, and iPad app called "Ascent: Commemorating Space Shuttle" showing super high quality and rarely seen footage from the Space Shuttle program.  This clip from YouTube is a scene from that project.  The most remarkable part of the clip is the soundtrack.  Actually getting to hear the sounds of the engines, SRB separation, reentry, and splashdown.  The audio is enhanced from the camera mics, enhanced by Skywalker Sound.

Sector 33 - NASA's Free Air Traffic Control Game

posted Feb 26, 2012, 9:57 AM by J Scott Carter   [ updated Feb 26, 2012, 9:57 AM ]

It's a companion to NASA's Smart Skies curriculum, which is designed to connect mathematics and problem solving to the real world.  Right now, it only runs on an iOS device (ipad, iphone, ipod touch), but it will soon be able to be played online.

Read all about the details on NASA's website or you get the app in the iTunes Store.

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