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NASA Facts Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California

NASA Facts Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California

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Published by: Bob Andrepont on Apr 02, 2011
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04/03/2011

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ORGANIZATION
SERIES
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AN EDUCATIONAL PUBLICATION
OF
THEqATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND
SPACE
ADMINISTRATION
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AmesResearcnCenter
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MOFFETT FIELD, CALIFORNIA
t
Founded
in
1940,
the Ames Research Center ofthe National Aeronautics and Space Administra-tion performs basic and applied research in sup-port
of
the Nation's space and aeronautical pro-grams. The Center is named for Joseph
S.
Ames,former president of Johns Hopkins University andchairman
of
the National Advisory Committee forAeronautics from
1927
to
1939.
Located
35
miles south of San Francisco near
Mountain
View, California, the Center is staffed by
more
than
2,200
Civil Service employees, of whom
more
than one third are scientists and engineers.
The
physical plant at Arnes comprises manyspecialized and unique facilities for aerospace re-
Aerial photo of Arnes Research Center located near Mountain
View,
California.
 
search in the traditional physical sciences as wellas the space sciences and life sciences. Theseinclude
a
number of wind tunnels, entry-heatingsimulators, and flight ballistic test facilities capa-ble of conducting tests at speeds through andabove earth escape speed, as well as laboratoriesequipped to study solar and geophysical phe-nomena, origin of life, life detection and life en-vironmental factors.Work at the Ames Research Center includes:theoretical, experimental, and analytical studies,and management of space flight projects.Ames studies on basic atmosphere entry heat-ing and aerodynamic characteristics contributed tothe design of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space-craft. Ames wind tunnel studies have supportedvarious launch vehicle developments; and stressstudies on the astronauts have proven of value tomanned space flight. Studies are also under wayon optical instrumentation for manned lunar rnis-sions; space vehicle attitude control;influence ofcrew station design on performance of Apollo
guid-
ance, control and navigation tasks: and pilot-operated attitude stabilization and control sys-tems.
RESEARCH
IN
REENTRY
Research in atmosphere entry forms an impor-tant share of the Center’s activity. The Ames staffconceived the theory which led to the solutions ofthe reentry problem required for manned satellites,manned lunar craft, and ballistic missiles. The re-search has led to fuller understanding of the ener-gy exchange between a vehicle and its atmosphericenvironment-heating problems, various techni-ques for protection against destructive frictionalheat, and the problems
of
stability and controlduring reentry flight.More recently, studies have been initiated onentry into planetary atmospheres (Mars and Ven-us), and into the earth’s atmosphere
at
the velo-cities associated with return trips from interplane-tary flight.Related to reentry work is lifting body research.These manned wingless research vehicles obtainaerodynamic
lift
from their half-cone shapes. Theyare of interest as a potential spacecraft that couldsurvive the heat of reentry and be maneuveredto one of several prepared sites for a normalground landing. Two versions of the Ames-de-signed M-2 lifting body have undergone experi-mental flight tests at NASA’s Flight Research Cen-ter.
mT.nni
TT
mPXE
k
-
--
An actual tektite (right) is corn-pared with a synthetic tektite shapedby earth atmospheric entry conditionssimulated in a high speed windtunnel at NASA’s Ames ResearchCenter, near San Francisco, Cali-fornia. The background
Is
the Aus-tralasian area
of
the world wherea major shower of tektites oc-curred about
700,000
years ago.Spacecraft simulation at ArnesResearch Center includes corn-parison
of
launch and entry stresseswith actual experience. AstronautsWalter Schirra (left) and GordonCooper discuss the Arnes Five-Degrees-of-Freedom Motion Sirnula-ior with Hubert C. Vykukal. engineer,during a recent visit to the Center.The Arnes device is unique and cansi mulate corn binations
of
stresses.
FLIGHT PROJECTS
Space flight projects managed by Ames includethe Pioneer interplanetary spacecraft, and theearth orbiting Biosatellite biological laboratory.Pioneer deep space probes have traveled morethan
100
million miles from the earth. Data re-turned by their transmitters have provided new un-derstanding of the interactions of the chargedparticles and magnetic fields that originate at theSun and extend beyond the earth. Pioneers alsohave helped define the extent of the earth’s pro-tective magnetic envelope, and have measured apossible trace atmosphere of the moon.The Biosatellites are launched into 200-milehigh orbits, for flights of three,
30,
and
21
days.Experiment capsules are recovered in the Paci-fic. Experiments seek basic effects of weightless-ness, radiation combined with weightlessness, andeffects of removal from the earth’s rotation onliving cells, tissue, and organisms. Specimens
in
clude primates, plants, and lower animals.
SPACE SCIENCES RESEARCH
Scientists at Ames are conducting extensive re-search in the space sciences, particularly in geo-physics, solar physics, interplanetary and plane-
i.,
A
tary physics, atomic physics, astronomy and astro-physics. The work includes studies pertaining tomagnetic fields and plasmas
in
space, and studiesto determine the composition and structure ofplanets and of planetary and stellar atmospheres.An experiment, to collect and return upper atmos-phere particles encountered during meteor show-ers, may permit detailed analysis of cometary de-bris and shed some knowledge on the nature
of
comets.With Ames being NASA’s prime center for lifesciences research, work is conducted in three ma-jor areas: basic research in the physiological andbehavioral sciences concerned with understand-ing the effects of earth and space environmentsand of space flight stresses upon man and otherliving organisms; studies in exobiology oriented to-wards the prediction, detection, and study of ex-traterrestrial life forms: and research in the humanfactors aspects of the relationships between manand machines.
AERONAUTICS
Aeronautical research at Ames is focused onoperational characteristics of vertical and shorttake-off aircraft (V/STOL), research in support ofthe national effort to develop a supersonic trans-port, and advanced research on air-breathing hy-personic aircraft. The Center’s engineers have con-verted the Bell X-14A twin-jet V/STOL into a varia-ble stability aircraft for inflight simulation andfor use as a lunar landing simulator.Another important area of aeronautical researchis simulation techniques and devices under devel-opment at Ames. Moving-base simulation for ex-ample permits a test pilot to “fly” and evaluatea proposed theoretical aircraft without the hazardsof actual flights. Other simulators are employedin the VTOL program, and for use in developingsupersonic transport landing techniques. Ames de-signed simulators also can reproduce the stressesof space flight thus permitting exhaustive studiesof pilot control of space vehicles
at
launch andduring atmosphere entry. Simulation studies alsoparallel and complement spacecraft and aircraftdesign studies and research carried on throughoutthe Center.Heavy emphasis in the study
of
air and spaceflight mechanics, guidance and control, and spacenavigation is made
at
Ames. Studies include analy-ses of guidance systems, space navigation techni-ques and equipment, and optical navigation in-struments for manned spacecraft. These fields of

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