Riding NASA's Zero-Gravity Roller Coaster: How To Not Vomit On the Vomit Comet - Brian Hynek, Washington University

Graduate student Mr. Brian Hynek of Washington University, will be featured at the May meeting of the Saint Louis Astronomical Society. The meeting will begin at 7:30 pm Friday, May 18 , in McDonnell Hall, Room 162, on the Washington University campus. McDonnell Hall is accessible from Forsyth Boulevard via Houston Way. The presentation, cosponsored by NASA's Missouri Space Grant Consortium, is open to the public free of charge.

One of NASA's training tools for astronauts is a KC-135A cargo plane adapted for simulating a zero-gravity environment, twenty seconds at a time, for a total of fifteen minutes per flight. This is done by flying a roller-coaster-like path, with a six mile climb followed by the twenty seconds of free falling toward the ground - a series of loops repeated thirty times per flight. For obvious reasons, the aircraft is nicknamed "The Vomit Comet". Two teams of college students made a flight in March, one to test heat transfer devices and the other to test a portable fire extinguisher for Space Station use. Brian Hynek, a Doctoral candidate in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University, accompanied the teams, the winners of this year's Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities competition. Mr. Hynek will talk about his experience aboard this unique simulator.

Brian Hynek's primary interest involves studies of the surface of the planet Mars, using space craft data from several NASA missions. Working with his advisor, Professor Roger Phillips, he is constructing three dimensional models of part of the huge Martian canyon systems, and using them to predict how flowing water might have shaped the surface hundreds of millions of years ago.