NASA Ames Research Center

NASA Ames Research Center

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The Ames Research Center (ARC), is one of the United States of America's National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

) 10 major field centers.The centre is located in Moffett Field in California's Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley is a term which refers to the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California in the United States. The region is home to many of the world's largest technology corporations...

, near the high-tech companies, entrepreneurial ventures, universities, and other laboratories that fuel the region's reputation for technology development and research. Named after Joseph Sweetman Ames
Joseph Sweetman Ames
Joseph Sweetman Ames was a physics professor at Johns Hopkins University, provost of the university from 1926 until 1929, and university president from 1929 until 1935.He was born at Manchester, Vermont...

 and founded on December 20, 1939 as the second National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA
NACA
- Organizations :* National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the forerunner of the U.S. federal agency NASA* National Association for Campus Activities, an organization for programmers of university and college activities...

) laboratory, ARC became part of NASA in 1958 as part of the turnover from the dissolution
Dissolution (law)
In law, dissolution has multiple meanings.Dissolution is the last stage of liquidation, the process by which a company is brought to an end, and the assets and property of the company redistributed....

 of NACA,having now (at the last estimate) over $3.0 billion in capital equipment, 2,300 research personnel and a $600 million annual budget.

Historically, Ames was founded to engage in wind-tunnel research on the aerodynamics of propeller-driven aircraft; howerver its role has developed beyond research and technology in aeronautics, to encompass spaceflight, and information technology. Ames plays a role in many of NASA missions in support of America's space and aeronautics programs. It provides leadership in astrobiology
Astrobiology
Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. This interdisciplinary field encompasses the search for habitable environments in our Solar System and habitable planets outside our Solar System, the search for evidence of prebiotic chemistry,...

; small satellites; robotic lunar exploration; technologies for the Constellation Program; the search for habitable planets; supercomputing; intelligent/adaptive systems; advanced thermal protection; and airborne astronomy. Ames also develops tools for a safer, more efficient national airspace and unique partnerships benefiting NASA’s mission. The center's current director is Dr. Simon P. "Pete" Worden
Pete Worden
Simon P. Worden, Ph.D. is Director of NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. Before joining NASA, he held several positions in the United States Air Force and was research professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He is a recognized expert on space issues...

 (Brigadier General
Brigadier general (United States)
A brigadier general in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, is a one-star general officer, with the pay grade of O-7. Brigadier general ranks above a colonel and below major general. Brigadier general is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral in the other uniformed...

, USAF Retired).
The organisation is mission center for several key current missions ( Kepler Mission
Kepler Mission
The Kepler spacecraft is an American space observatory, the space-based portion of NASA's Kepler Mission to discover Earth-like planets orbiting other stars. The spacecraft is named in honor of the 17th-century German astronomer Johannes Kepler...

, the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission, Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA)
Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center to construct and maintain an airborne observatory. NASA awarded the contract for the development of the aircraft, operation of the observatory and management of the American part of the...

) and a major contributor to the '"new exploration focus'" as a participant in the Orion
Orion (spacecraft)
Orion is a spacecraft designed by Lockheed Martin for NASA, the space agency of the United States. Orion development began in 2005 as part of the Constellation program, where Orion would fulfill the function of a Crew Exploration Vehicle....

 crew exploration vehicle and Ares I
Ares I
Ares I was the crew launch vehicle that was being developed by NASA as part of the Constellation Program. The name "Ares" refers to the Greek deity Ares, who is identified with the Roman god Mars...

 crew launch vehicle projects.

Missions


Although Ames is a NASA Research Center, and not a flight center, nevertheless it has been closely involved in a number of astronomy and space missions.

Lunar Prospector
Lunar Prospector
The Lunar Prospector mission was the third selected by NASA for full development and construction as part of the Discovery Program. At a cost of $62.8 million, the 19-month mission was designed for a low polar orbit investigation of the Moon, including mapping of surface composition and possible...

 was the third mission selected by NASA for full development and construction as part of the Discovery Program
Discovery Program
NASA's Discovery Program is a series of lower-cost, highly-focused American scientific space missions that are exploring the Solar System. It was founded in 1992 to implement then-NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin's vision of "faster, better, cheaper" planetary missions...

. At a cost of $62.8 million, the 19-month mission was put into a low polar orbit of the Moon, accomplishing mapping of surface composition and possible polar ice deposits, measurements of magnetic and gravity fields, and study of lunar outgassing events. Based on Lunar Prospector Neutron Spectrometer (NS) data, mission scientists have determined that there is indeed water ice
Ice
Ice is water frozen into the solid state. Usually ice is the phase known as ice Ih, which is the most abundant of the varying solid phases on the Earth's surface. It can appear transparent or opaque bluish-white color, depending on the presence of impurities or air inclusions...

 in the polar craters of the Moon. The mission ended July 31, 1999 when the orbiter was guided to an impact into a crater near the lunar south pole in an (unsuccessful) attempt to analyze lunar polar water by vaporizing it to allow spectroscopic characterization from Earth telescopes.

The 11-pound (5 kg) GeneSat-1
GeneSat-1
GeneSat-1 is a fully automated, miniature spaceflight system that provides life support for bacterium. The system was launched into orbit on December 16, 2006 from Wallops Flight Facility. GeneSat-1 began to transmit data on its first pass over the mission's California ground station...

, carrying bacteria inside a miniature laboratory, was launched on December 16, 2006. The very small NASA satellite has proven that scientists can quickly design and launch a new class of inexpensive spacecraft—and conduct significant science.

The Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite ( LCROSS) mission to look for water on the moon was a 'secondary payload spacecraft.' LCROSS began its trip to the moon on the same rocket as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
The Lunar Precursor Robotic Program is a program of robotic spacecraft missions which NASA will use to prepare for future human spaceflight missions to the Moon. Two LPRP missions, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite , were launched in June 2009...

), which continues to conduct a different lunar task. It launched in April 2009 on an Atlas V rocket from Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center
The John F. Kennedy Space Center is the NASA installation that has been the launch site for every United States human space flight since 1968. Although such flights are currently on hiatus, KSC continues to manage and operate unmanned rocket launch facilities for America's civilian space program...

, Florida.

Kepler
Kepler Mission
The Kepler spacecraft is an American space observatory, the space-based portion of NASA's Kepler Mission to discover Earth-like planets orbiting other stars. The spacecraft is named in honor of the 17th-century German astronomer Johannes Kepler...

is NASA's first mission capable of finding Earth-size and smaller planets. The Kepler mission will monitor the brightness of stars to find planets that pass in front of them during the planets' orbits. During such passes or 'transits,' the planets will slightly decrease the star's brightness.

Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy ( SOFIA
Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center to construct and maintain an airborne observatory. NASA awarded the contract for the development of the aircraft, operation of the observatory and management of the American part of the...

 ) is a joint venture of the U.S. and German aerospace agencies, NASA and the DLR
German Aerospace Center
The German Aerospace Center is the national centre for aerospace, energy and transportation research of the Federal Republic of Germany. It has multiple locations throughout Germany. Its headquarters are located in Cologne. It is engaged in a wide range of research and development projects in...

 to make an infrared
Infrared
Infrared light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength longer than that of visible light, measured from the nominal edge of visible red light at 0.74 micrometres , and extending conventionally to 300 µm...

 telescope platform that can fly at altitudes high enough to be in the infrared-transparent regime above the water vapor in the Earth's atmosphere. The aircraft is supplied by the U.S., and the infrared telescope by Germany. Modifications of the Boeing 747
Boeing 747
The Boeing 747 is a wide-body commercial airliner and cargo transport, often referred to by its original nickname, Jumbo Jet, or Queen of the Skies. It is among the world's most recognizable aircraft, and was the first wide-body ever produced...

SP airframe to accommodate the telescope, mission-unique equipment and large external door were made by L-3 Communications Integrated Systems of Waco, Texas
Waco, Texas
Waco is a city in and the county seat of McLennan County, Texas. Situated along the Brazos River and on the I-35 corridor, halfway between Dallas and Austin, it is the economic, cultural, and academic center of the 'Heart of Texas' region....

.

The upcoming Lunar Atmosphere Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) mission has been assigned to NASA Ames. This is planned for a launch to the Moon in 2011. In addition, Ames has played a support role in a number of missions, most notably the Mars Pathfinder
Mars Pathfinder
Mars Pathfinder was an American spacecraft that landed a base station with roving probe on Mars in 1997. It consisted of a lander, renamed the Carl Sagan Memorial Station, and a lightweight wheeled robotic rover named Sojourner.Launched on December 4, 1996 by NASA aboard a Delta II booster a...

 and Mars Exploration Rover
Mars Exploration Rover
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Mission is an ongoing robotic space mission involving two rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, exploring the planet Mars...

 missions, where the Ames Intelligent Robotics Laboratory played a key role. NASA Ames was a partner on the Mars Phoenix
Phoenix (spacecraft)
Phoenix was a robotic spacecraft on a space exploration mission on Mars under the Mars Scout Program. The Phoenix lander descended on Mars on May 25, 2008...

, a Mars Scout Program
Mars Scout Program
The Mars Scout Program was a NASA initiative to send a series of small, low-cost robotic missions to Mars, competitively selected from innovative proposals by the scientific community. The program would have had an array of missions destined to reach Mars, and study it at low costs. Each Scout...

 mission to send a high-latitude lander to Mars, deployed a robotic arm to dig trenches up to 1.6 feet (one half meter) into the layers of water ice and analyzing the soil composition. Ames is also a partner on the Mars Science Laboratory
Mars Science Laboratory
The Mars Science Laboratory is a National Aeronautics and Space Administration mission with the aim to land and operate a rover named Curiosity on the surface of Mars. The MSL was launched November 26, 2011, at 10:02 EST and is scheduled to land on Mars at Gale Crater between August 6 and 20, 2012...

, a next generation Mars rover to explore for signs of organics and complex molecules.

Air Traffic Control Automation Research


The Aviation Systems Division conducts research and development in two primary areas: air traffic management, and high-fidelity flight simulation. For air traffic management, researchers are creating and testing concepts to allow for up to three times today's level of aircraft in the national airspace. Automation and its attendant safety consequences are key foundations of the concept development. Historically, the division has developed products that have subsequently been implemented for the flying public, such as the Traffic Management Advisor, which is being deployed nationwide. For high-fidelity flight simulation, the division operates the world's largest flight simulator (the Vertical Motion Simulator), a Level-D 747-400 simulator, and a panoramic air traffic control tower simulator. These simulators have been used for a variety of purposes including continued training for Space Shuttle pilots, development of future spacecraft handling qualities, helicopter control system testing, Joint Strike Fighter evaluations, and accident investigations. Personnel in the division have a variety of technical backgrounds, including guidance and control, flight mechanics, flight simulation, and computer science. Customers outside of NASA have included the FAA, DOD, DHS, DOT, NTSB, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing

Information technology


Ames is the home of NASA's large research and development divisions in Advanced Supercomputing , Human Factors , and Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it. AI textbooks define the field as "the study and design of intelligent agents" where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its...

 ( Intelligent Systems ). These Research & Development organizations support NASA's Exploration efforts, as well as the continued operations of the Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

 and International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

, and the space science
Space science
The term space science may mean:* The study of issues specifically related to space travel and space exploration, including space medicine.* Science performed in outer space ....

 and Aeronautics
Aeronautics
Aeronautics is the science involved with the study, design, and manufacturing of airflight-capable machines, or the techniques of operating aircraft and rocketry within the atmosphere...

 work across NASA. The center also runs and maintains the E Root nameserver
Root nameserver
A root name server is a name server for the Domain Name System's root zone. It directly answers requests for records in the root zone and answers other requests returning a list of the designated authoritative name servers for the appropriate top-level domain...

 of the DNS
Domain name system
The Domain Name System is a hierarchical distributed naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network. It associates various information with domain names assigned to each of the participating entities...

 System.

The Intelligent Systems Division is NASA's leading R&D Division developing advanced intelligent software and systems for all of NASA Mission Directorates. It provides software expertise for Aeronautics, Space Science Missions, Space Shuttle, International Space Station, and the new crewed Exploration Missions (CEV
CEV
CEV may stand for:*Certified Video Engineer, a professional title regulated by the Society of Broadcast Engineers*Chemins de fer électriques Veveysans, a Swiss railway company*Contemporary English Version, a translation of the Bible into English...

, and Ares). The first AI in space (Deep Space 1
Deep Space 1
Deep Space 1 is a spacecraft of the NASA New Millennium Program dedicated to testing a payload of advanced, high risk technologies....

) was developed from Code TI, as is the MAPGEN software that daily plans the activities for the Mars Exploration Rovers, the same core reasoner is used for Ensemble to operate Phoenix Lander, and the planning system for the International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

's Solar Arrays. Integrated System Health Management for the International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

's control moment gyroscopes, collaborative systems with semantic search tools, and robust software engineering round out the scope of Code TI's work.

The Human Systems Integration Division
Human Systems Integration Division
The Human Systems Integration Division are offices and laboratories within the National Aeronautics and Space Administration,whose function is focused within investigation to application of new scientific knowledge relevant to human centred functioning in order to benefit the objectives of the...

  "advances human-centered design and operations of complex aerospace systems through analysis, experimentation, and modeling of human performance and human-automation interaction to make dramatic improvements in safety, efficiency and mission success". For decades, the Human Systems Integration Division has been on the leading edge of human-centered aerospace research. The Division is home to over 100 researchers, contractors and administrative staff.

Ames operates one of the world′s fastest supercomputer
Supercomputer
A supercomputer is a computer at the frontline of current processing capacity, particularly speed of calculation.Supercomputers are used for highly calculation-intensive tasks such as problems including quantum physics, weather forecasting, climate research, molecular modeling A supercomputer is a...

s, Pleiades
Pleiades (supercomputer)
Pleiades is a petascale supercomputer built by SGI at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. , it was the world's seventh fastest computer with a peak performance of more than 970 teraflops. After further extensions, Pleiades is scheduled to reach 10 petaflops in 2012.-See...

, which will be further enhanced and is scheduled to reach 10 petaflops
FLOPS
In computing, FLOPS is a measure of a computer's performance, especially in fields of scientific calculations that make heavy use of floating-point calculations, similar to the older, simpler, instructions per second...

 of processing power by 2012.

In September 2009, Ames launched NEBULA as a fast and powerful Cloud Computing Platform to handle NASA's massive data sets that complied with security requirements. This innovative pilot uses open-source components, complies with FISMA and can scale to Government-sized demands while being extremely energy efficient.

Image processing


NASA Ames was one of the first locations in the world to conduct research on image processing of satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

-platform aerial photography. Some of the pioneering techniques of contrast enhancement using Fourier
Fourier
Fourier most commonly refers to Joseph Fourier , French mathematician and physicist, or the mathematics, physics, and engineering terms named in his honor for his work on the concepts underlying them:In mathematics:...

 analysis were developed at Ames in conjunction with researchers at ESL Inc.

Wind tunnels


The NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 Ames Research Center wind tunnel
Wind tunnel
A wind tunnel is a research tool used in aerodynamic research to study the effects of air moving past solid objects.-Theory of operation:Wind tunnels were first proposed as a means of studying vehicles in free flight...

s are known not only for their immense size, but also for their diverse characteristics that enable various kinds of scientific and engineering research.

ARC Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel


The Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel
Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel
The Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel, located at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Federal Airfield, Mountain View, California, USA, was a research facility used extensively to design and test new generations of aircraft, both commercial and military, as well as NASA space vehicles, including the...

 (UPWT) was completed in 1956 at a cost of $27 million under the Unitary Plan Act of 1949. Since its completion, the UPWT facility has been the most heavily used NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 wind tunnel. Every major commercial transport and almost every military jet built in the United States over the last 40 years has been tested in this facility. The Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo capsules and the Space Shuttle were also tested in this tunnel complex. This wind tunnel facility represents a unique national asset of vital importance to the nation's defense and its competitive position in the world aerospace market.

National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex (NFAC)


Ames Research Center also houses the world's largest wind tunnel, part of the National Full-Scale Aerodynamic Complex (NFAC): it is large enough to test full-sized planes, rather than scale models.


The 40 by 80 foot wind tunnel circuit was originally constructed in the 1940s and is now capable of providing test velocites up to 300 knots (163.3 m/s). It is used to support an active research program in aerodynamics, dynamics, model noise, and full-scale aircraft and their components. The aerodynamic characteristics of new configurations are investigated with an emphasis on validating computational methods. Aeromechanical stability boundaries of advanced rotorcraft and rotor-fuselage interactions are explored. Stability and control derivatives are also determined, including the static and dynamic characteristics of new aircraft configurations. The acoustic characteristics of most of the full-scale vehicles are also determined, as well as acoustic research aimed at discovering and reducing aerodynamic sources of noise. In addition to the normal data gathering methods (e.g., balance system, pressure measuring transducers, and temperature sensing thermocouples), state-of-the-art, non-intrusive instrumentation (e.g., laser velocimeters and shadowgraphs) are available to help determine flow direction and velocity in and around the lifting surfaces of models or aircraft undergoing investigation. The 40 by 80 Foot Wind Tunnel is primarily used for determining the low- and medium-speed aerodynamic characteristics of high-performance aircraft, rotorcraft, and fixed wing, powered-lift V/STOL aircraft.

The 80 by 120 Foot Wind Tunnel at NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 Ames Research Center holds the distinction of being the largest wind tunnel test section in the world. This open circuit leg was added and a new fan drive system was installed in the 1980s. The 80 by 120 Foot Wind Tunnel is used to support an active research program in aerodynamics, dynamics, model noise, and full-scale aircraft and their components. The aerodynamic characteristics of new configurations are investigated, with an emphasis on validating computational methods. Aeromechanical stability boundaries of advanced rotorcraft and rotor-fuselage interactions are explored. The acoustic characteristics of most of the full-scale vehicles are also determined, as well as acoustic research aimed at discovering and reducing aerodynamic sources of noise. In addition to the normal data gathering methods (e.g., balance system, pressure measuring transducers, and temperature sensing thermocouples), state-of-the-art non-intrusive instrumentation (e.g., laser velocimeters and shadowgraphs) are available to help determine flow direction and velocity in and around the lifting surfaces of models or aircraft undergoing investigation. Some of the test programs that have come through the 80 by 120 Foot include: F-18 High Angle of Attack Vehicle, DARPA/Lockheed Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter, XV-15 Tilt Rotor, and Advance Recovery System Parafoil. The 80 by 120 foot test section is capable of testing a full size Boeing 737 at velocities up to 100 knots (54.4 m/s).

Although decommissioned by NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 in 2003, the NFAC is now being operated by the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 as a satellite facility of the Arnold Engineering Development Center
Arnold Engineering Development Center
Arnold Engineering Development Center is a ground-based flight test facility operated by the US Air Force Materiel Command.-Mission statement:The AEDC mission is to:...

 (AEDC).

Arc Jet Complex


The Ames Arc Jet Complex has seven available test bays. At the present time, four bays contain Arc Jet units of differing configurations, serviced by common facility support equipment. These are the Aerodynamic Heating Facility (AHF), the Turbulent Flow Duct (TFD), the Panel Test Facility (PTF), and the Interaction Heating Facility (IHF). The support equipment includes two D.C. power supplies, a steam ejector-driven vacuum system, a water-cooling system, high-pressure gas systems, data acquisition system, and other auxiliary systems.

The magnitude and capacity of these systems makes the Ames Arc Jet Complex unique in the world. The largest power supply can deliver 75 megawatts(MW) for a 30 minute duration or 150 MW for a 15 second duration. This power capacity, in combination with a high-volume 5-stage steam ejector vacuum-pumping system, enables facility operations to match high-altitude atmospheric flight conditions with samples of relatively large size. The Thermo-Physics Facilities Branch operates four arc jet facilities. The Interaction Heating Facility (IHF), with an available power of over 60-MW, is one of the highest-power arc jets available. It is a very flexible facility, capable of long run times of up to one hour, and able to test large samples in both a stagnation and flat plate configuration. The Panel Test Facility (PTF) uses a unique semielliptic nozzle for testing panel sections. Powered by a 20-MW arc heater, the PTF can perform
tests on samples for up to 20 minutes. The Turbulent Flow Duct provides supersonic, turbulent high temperature
air flows over flat surfaces. The TFD is powered by a 20-MW Hüls arc heater and can test samples 203 by in size. The Aerodynamic Heating Facility (AHF) has similar characteristics to the IHF arc heater, offering a wide range of operating conditions, samples sizes and extended test times. A cold-air-mixing plenum allows for simulations of ascent or high-speed flight conditions. Catalycity studies using air or nitrogen can be performed in this flexible rig. A 5-arm model support system allows the user to maximize testing efficiency. The AHF can be configured with
either a Hüls or segmented arc heater, up to 20-MW. 1 MW is enough power to supply 750 homes.

Range complex


The Ames Vertical Gun Range (AVGR) was designed to conduct scientific studies of lunar impact processes in support of the Apollo missions. In 1979, it was established as a National Facility, funded through the Planetary Geology and Geophysics Program. In 1995, increased scientific needs across various disciplines resulted in joint core funding by three different science programs at NASA Headquarters (Planetary Geology and Geophysics, Exobiology, and Solar System Origins). In addition, the AVGR provides programmatic support for various proposed and ongoing planetary missions (e.g. Stardust, Deep Impact).

Using its 0.30 cal
Caliber
In guns including firearms, caliber or calibre is the approximate internal diameter of the barrel in relation to the diameter of the projectile used in it....

 light-gas gun and powder gun, the AVGR can launch projectiles to velocities ranging from 500 metre per second. By varying the gun’s angle of elevation with respect to the target vacuum chamber, impact angles from 0° to 90° relative to the gravitational vector are possible. This unique feature is extremely important in the study of crater formation processes.

The target chamber is approximately 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) in diameter and height and can accommodate a wide variety of targets and mounting fixtures. It can maintain vacuum levels below 0.03 torrs (4 Pa), or can be back filled with various gases to simulate different planetary atmospheres. Impact events are typically recorded with high-speed video/film, or Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV).

Hypervelocity Free-Flight Range


The Hypervelocity Free-Flight (HFF) Range currently comprises two active facilities: the Aerodynamic Facility (HFFAF) and the Gun Development Facility (HFFGDF). The HFFAF is a combined Ballistic Range and Shock-tube Driven Wind Tunnel. Its primary purpose is to examine the aerodynamic characteristics and flow-field structural details of free-flying aeroballistic models.

The HFFAF has a test section equipped with 16 shadowgraph-imaging stations. Each station can be used to capture an orthogonal pair of images of a hypervelocity
Hypervelocity
The term hypervelocity usually refers to a very high velocity, approximately over 3,000 meters per second . In particular, it refers to velocities so high that the strength of materials upon impact is very small compared to inertial stresses. Thus, even metals behave like fluids under hypervelocity...

 model in flight. These images, combined with the recorded flight time history, can be used to obtain critical aerodynamic parameters such as lift, drag, static and dynamic stability, flow characteristics, and pitching moment coefficients. For very high Mach number
Mach number
Mach number is the speed of an object moving through air, or any other fluid substance, divided by the speed of sound as it is in that substance for its particular physical conditions, including those of temperature and pressure...

 (M > 25) simulations, models can be launched into a counter-flowing gas stream generated by the shock tube. The facility can also be configured for hypervelocity impact testing and has an aerothermodynamic capability as well. The HFFAF is currently configured to operate the 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) light gas gun
Light gas gun
The light-gas gun is an apparatus for physics experiments, a highly specialized gun designed to generate very high velocities. It is usually used to study high speed impact phenomena , such as the formation of impact craters by meteorites or the erosion of materials by micrometeoroids...

 in support of continuing thermal imaging and transition research for NASA's hypersonics program.

The HFFGDF is used for gun performance enhancement studies, and occasional impact testing. The Facility uses the same arsenal of light-gas and powder guns as the HFFAF to accelerate particles that range in size from 3.2 millimetre diameter to velocities ranging from 0.5 to 8.5 km/s (1,500 to 28,000 ft/s). Most of the research effort to date has centered on Earth atmosphere entry configurations (Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Shuttle), planetary entry designs (Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

, Pioneer Venus, Galileo and MSL
MSL
- Organizations :* Major Series Lacrosse* Major Soccer League* Malaysia Super League* MBCgame Starleague * Metal Storm Limited, an Australian modern armament company...

), and aerobraking (AFE) configurations. The facility has also been used for scramjet propulsion studies (National Aerospace Plane (NASP)
Rockwell X-30
-See also:-References: 2. -External links:*...

) and meteoroid/orbital debris impact studies (Space Station
Space station
A space station is a spacecraft capable of supporting a crew which is designed to remain in space for an extended period of time, and to which other spacecraft can dock. A space station is distinguished from other spacecraft used for human spaceflight by its lack of major propulsion or landing...

 and RLV). In 2004, the facility was utilized for foam-debris dynamics testing in support of the Return To Flight effort. As of March 2007, the GDF has been reconfigured to operate a cold gas gun for subsonic CEV
CEV
CEV may stand for:*Certified Video Engineer, a professional title regulated by the Society of Broadcast Engineers*Chemins de fer électriques Veveysans, a Swiss railway company*Contemporary English Version, a translation of the Bible into English...

 capsule
Capsule
-Anatomy:* an eggshell* Articular capsules - every diarthrodial joint possesses a fibrous or ligamentous capsule, lined with synovial membrane, attached to the adjacent ends of the articulating bones* the sac that encloses the crystalline lens of the eye...

 aerodynamics.

Electric Arc Shock Tube


The Electric Arc Shock Tube (EAST) Facility is used to investigate the effects of radiation and ionization that occur during very high velocity atmospheric entries. In addition, the EAST can also provide air-blast simulations requiring the strongest possible shock generation in air at an initial pressure loading of 1 standard atmospheres (101,325 Pa) or greater. The facility has three separate driver configurations, to meet a range of test requirements: the driver can be connected to a diaphragm station of either a 102 millimetres (4 in) or a 610 millimetres (24 in) shock tube, and the high-pressure 102 millimetres (4 in) shock tube can also drive a 762 millimetres (30 in) shock tunnel. Energy for the drivers is supplied by a 1.25-MJ-capacitor storage system.

Recent events


Although the Bush administration
George W. Bush administration
The presidency of George W. Bush began on January 20, 2001, when he was inaugurated as the 43rd President of the United States of America. The oldest son of former president George H. W. Bush, George W...

 slightly increased funding
for NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 overall, the substantial realignment in research priorities that followed the announcement of the Vision for Space Exploration
Vision for Space Exploration
The Vision for Space Exploration is the United States space policy which was announced on January 14, 2004 by President George W. Bush. It is seen as a response to the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, the state of human spaceflight at NASA, and a way to regain public enthusiasm for space...

 in 2004 has led to a significant number of layoffs at Ames. As before, NASA has chosen to devote more resources to the more visible human-staffed space missions than to robot spacecraft or scientific experiments.

On September 28, 2005, both Google
Google
Google Inc. is an American multinational public corporation invested in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies. Google hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products, and generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program...

 and Ames Research Center disclosed details to a long-term research partnership. In addition to pooling engineering talent, Google plans to build a 1000000 square feet (9.3 ha) facility on the ARC campus. One of the projects between Ames, Google, and Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University is a private research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States....

 is the Gigapan
Gigapan
GigaPan is a collaborative project between Carnegie Mellon University and NASA Ames Intelligent Systems Division's Robotics Group with support from Google...

 Project—a robotic platform for creating, sharing, and annotating terrestrial gigapixel images. The Planetary Content Project seeks to integrate and improve the data that Google uses for its Google Moon
Google Moon
Google Moon is a service similar to Google Maps that shows satellite images of the Moon. It was launched by Google on July 20, 2005, the 36th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing...

 and Google Mars
Google Mars
Google Mars was at first an in-browser version of Google Maps which provides a visible imagery view, like Google Moon, as well as infrared imagery and shaded relief of the planet Mars. Users can toggle between the elevation, visible, and infrared data, in the same manner as switching between map,...

 projects. On June 4, 2008 Google
Google
Google Inc. is an American multinational public corporation invested in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies. Google hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products, and generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program...

 announced it had leased 42 acres (169,968.1 m²) from NASA, at Moffett Field, for use as office space and employee housing.

HP
Hewlett-Packard
Hewlett-Packard Company or HP is an American multinational information technology corporation headquartered in Palo Alto, California, USA that provides products, technologies, softwares, solutions and services to consumers, small- and medium-sized businesses and large enterprises, including...

 has become the first corporate affiliate of a new Bio-Info-Nano Research and Development Institute (BIN-RDI); a collaborative venture established by the University of California Santa Cruz and NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

, based at NASA Ames in Mountain View, CA. The Bio|Info|Nano R&D Institute is dedicated to creating scientific breakthroughs made possible by the convergence of biotechnology, information technology, and nanotechnology.

On October 22, 2006, NASA opened the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Cosmos. The center will continue the work that Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

 undertook during his lifetime, including the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

In 2008, the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project
Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project
The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project is a project funded by NASA, SkyCorp Inc, SpaceRef Interactive, Inc., and private individuals to digitize the original analog data tapes from the five Lunar Orbiter spacecraft that were sent to the Moon in 1966 and 1967.-Background:The images taken by the...

 (LOIRP) was given space in the old McDonalds (the building has since been renamed to McMoons) to digitize data tapes from the five 1966 and 1967 Lunar Orbiter
Lunar Orbiter program
The Lunar Orbiter program was a series of five unmanned lunar orbiter missions launched by the United States from 1966 through 1967. Intended to help select Apollo landing sites by mapping the Moon's surface, they provided the first photographs from lunar orbit.All five missions were successful,...

 spacecraft that were sent to the Moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

.

Also in 2008, it was announced that former Director Henry McDonald
Henry McDonald
Henry McDonald may refer to:* Henry McDonald * Henry McDonald * Henry McDonald * Henry McDonald *Henry Monroe McDonald , a Major League Baseball pitcher known as Hank McDonald...

 was a 60th Anniversary Class of the NASA Ames Hall of Fame for providing, "...exceptional leadership and keen technical insight to NASA Ames as the Center re-invented itself in the late 1990s."

In 2010, NASA scientists at the Fluid Mechanics Laboratory at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, studied the aerodynamics of the Jabulani
Adidas Jabulani
The Jabulani is an Association football ball manufactured by Adidas. It was the official match ball for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.The ball is made from eight spherically molded panels and has a textured surface intended to improve aerodynamics...

 World Cup soccer ball, concluding that it tends to "knuckle under
Knuckleball
A knuckleball is a baseball pitch with an erratic, unpredictable motion. The pitch is thrown so as to minimize the spin of the ball in flight. This causes vortices over the stitched seams of the baseball during its trajectory, which in turn can cause the pitch to change direction—and even...

" at speeds of 45 to 50 mph (20.1 to 22.4 ). Aerospace engineer Rabi Mehta attributed this effect to asymmetric flow due to the ball's seam construction.

NASA Ames Exploration Center


The NASA Ames Exploration Center is a science museum and education center for NASA. There are displays and interactive exhibits about NASA technology, missions and space exploration. A moon rock, meteorite and other geologic samples are on display. The theater shows movies with footage from NASA's explorations of Mars and the planets, and about the contributions of the scientists at NASA Ames Research Center. The facility is free and open to the public. Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 10am – 1pm; Sat & Sun: Noon – 4pm.

See also


  • NASA Research Park
    NASA Research Park
    NASA Research Park is a research park run by NASA which aims to develop a world-class, shared-use research and development campus in association with government entities, academia, industry and non-profit organisations. It is situated in near San Jose, California. It began in 1939 as Ames Research...

  • Pleiades (supercomputer)
    Pleiades (supercomputer)
    Pleiades is a petascale supercomputer built by SGI at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. , it was the world's seventh fastest computer with a peak performance of more than 970 teraflops. After further extensions, Pleiades is scheduled to reach 10 petaflops in 2012.-See...


External links