“From the moment you enter NASA Ames Research Park and face the Space Shuttle model that was once tested here in the world’s biggest wind tunnel, you can’t help but to feel inspired to go work and contribute to the future of space exploration.
Michelle Noguez Cerón, Samuel Naef and I, Ana Cristina Baltazar Garduño, are some of the lucky interns from the International Space University (ISU) who get to experience this every single day during this summer.
I am working in the Small Satellites and Payloads Division with two amazing mentors: Marcus Murbach and Ali Guarneros Luna. We are part of the TechEdSat Team, which built the first American CubeSat that was deployed from the ISS. We mainly work on rapid development of technology to be tested it on our CubeSats, with our main experiment being a drag-induced deorbiting device for quick sample return, called Exo-Brake. Although the immediate benefit is to make small payload return faster and cheaper, the ultimate goal is to be able to send small probes to Mars using the same approach. This is where my project comes in handy; I am designing a science station for a mission proposal that aims to perform in-situ measurements of the Martian climate at the Hellas Basin. At the same time, I have been working on the electric design of a precursor experiment of diode beaming for future adaptive optics systems and on several tests and procedures development for our CubeSats TechEdSat 7 and 8.
My classmate, Michelle Noguez Cerón is working in the Wind Tunnel Division, in the Experimental Aero-Physics Branch. Her work focuses on the Common Research Model, an international standard for aircraft wind tunnel analysis. She sets up instrumentation for a new pressure-tapped wing and performs wind tunnel tests to acquire boundary layer surveys, which are used to validate flow computations performed using Computational Fluid Dynamics software.
Sam is working with world renowned Dr. Chris McKay on a new Enceladus fast flyby. This is a partnership between NASA and Breakthrough initiatives to send a spacecraft fast past Enceladus to see if there are traces of life in the watery plumes that are streaming out into space through the cracks in its icy surface. Sam is currently figuring out the strength of the laser they need, the trajectory, and which rocket. If all goes to plan it could launch within 2 years and be there by 5! At the same time, he is working on a proposal for a new propulsion system that uses the solar wind, in order to get to Mars within a week. It is especially useful for transportation of people and ore, in space.
Apart from working on our amazing projects this summer, our experience has been enriched by the Summer Series Colloquium and numerous tours to different labs and facilities here at Ames. The first one brings scientists and engineers from different disciplines to talk about their work and research almost every week, while the tours have included the Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS), the 20-G Centrifuge and the Super Computer/Hyperwall facilities, just to mention some. When we are not working, we go hiking, camping, play ultimate Frisbee and hang out with other interns and colleagues. This has definitely been an out-of-this-world summer!”
The last module of ISU's Master of Space Studies (MSS) program is a three-month internship that ISU students carry out in space agencies, space companies, start-ups, universities and other space-related organizations.
ISU MSS students are working all over the world, gaining valuable skills in many different environments, on many different types of projects.
Photo Credit: From left to right -MSS18 students Samuel Naef, Michelle Noguez Cerón and Ana Cristina Baltazar Garduño - ISU