Since I began my career in astrophysics at Columbia, I was interested in the discovery of dark matter. I worked with the GAPS (General Antiparticle Spectrometer) team, and helped to fabricate their Silicon Lithium detectors. The GAPS experiment aimed to detect indirectly detect dark matter using detectors flown on a high altitude balloon at the North Pole. The feasibility of the experiment rests on the theory that dark matter consists of WIMPs (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles). This theory implies that if dark matter interacts with itself, it could create a spray of matter-antimatter pairs, as these particles interact they can create exotic particles. One particle in particular that is quite difficult to make outside of WIMP-WIMP interaction is the anti-deuteron- this makes it a smoking gun detection of dark matter. When a high energy particle like the anti-deuteron enters a material like Silicon, it releases energy in the form of electrons. This allows us to coordinate an electrical signal with particle energy. By using an array of detectors, we would be able to characterize the particle by its energy and time of flight through the array. By flying the GAPS experiment at the North Pole, we may be able to find a particle energy signature that matches the anti-deuteron. This would imply that we had indirectly discovered dark matter! Or even more profound, contributed to our theory of WIMP dark matter! I have always wanted to take that 3 month trip to the arctic to watch GAPS fly, and be...

An experiment I would be interested in conducting on an aircraft would be to test the growth rate and survival of bacteria at various levels of altitude, such as ground level, 5,000 feet, 10,000 feet, 20,000 feet, 30,000 feet, and somewhere in a suborbital space flight. In this experiment, the bacteria would be exposed not only to different altitudes, but different temperatures at those altitudes, to determine whether bacteria would not only survive under these given conditions, but whether their rate of growth would be affected and if so, in what direction. The way the experiment would be conducted would be to have the same aircraft fly at the different given altitudes on different days under similar weather conditions at a steady, comfortable speed. The bacteria would be exposed to a temperature-controlled environment inside of the airplane for a period of six to eight hours (and the exact time would be the same for all days). Another set of bacteria would be in a lab on the ground exposed to similar conditions. The bacteria types that would be used in the experiment could vary, but would most likely be Escherechia Coli (e. coli), Bacillus Megaterium, Streptococcus Lactis, and Staphylococcus Aureus, and would be the same for every trial. In this experiment, I would anticipate that bacteria will likely be able to grow under all given temperatures and altitudes. However, I predict that the rate of growth of the bacteria population will be greater the lower the altitude for any given temperature and...

The purpose of this experiment is to determine whether there is a significant difference in the liquid behavior inside 3D printed tanks compared to more traditional metal tanks. NASA will soon be flying a mission to demonstrate that water electrolysis can be used as a safer, greener form of propulsion for small satellites. A water propulsion system that is sized for cubesats has been manufactured already by Tethers Unlimited, Inc. , but the further development of this technology would allow for these systems to be manufactured by cubesat developers themselves. Additive manufacturing has become increasingly relevant to the aerospace industry, so it would be beneficial to determine whether 3D-printed tanks can effectively be utilized for larger scale water propulsion systems. On a suborbital space flight, the scientist will manipulate 3D printed tanks of various shapes and sizes made by various printing techniques in order to analyze the behavior of the water on the inside, focusing on the interactions between the liquid and the inner tank surface as well as the impact of the liquid motion on the stability of the tank. Each tank will have observation ports on both ends – one that is clear for visual observation during the tests and one that has instruments on the inside to track the liquid motion. These instruments will be modeled after the SPHERES slosh experiement that was run on the ISS. This experiment will result in an empirical understanding of the limits of additive manufacturing on water based propulsion tanks for small satellites....

Electromagnetic fields created by ions in the stratosphere interfere with radio transmissions by changing local air densities. This can cause communication issues for airplanes, especially high-altitude military aircraft. I propose sending a high-altitude balloon to the stratosphere to quantify the effects of this interference, which will allow me to create a correction algorithm for aircraft communication systems. The balloon payload would include a radio transmitter, a GPS chip, and an ion-density sensor, all connected to a small on-board computer such as a Raspberry Pi. The transmitter would send radio waves of varying frequencies from the weather balloon, with the onboard computer recording the initial phase of each signal at discrete time intervals of approximately 0.001 seconds. The data generated from a short flight should not exceed a few megabytes, which will be far less than the storage of a modern Micro SD card inside the Raspberry Pi. A detector on the ground would record the incoming signals at the same discrete time intervals. The ground-based detector should be equipped with the same GPS chip as the payload, which will allow the for the most accurate comparison of the path length between the payload and detector for each time interval. The resulting data should ultimately show dispersion in the radio waves, that is, a frequency-dependent phase shift as the result of passing through the local density gradients. I would use these results to create a machine-learning algorithm that could correct incoming radio on aircraft based on local ion densities. The next solar maximum...

Nausea is a common experience during parabolic flights and space travel. While pharmaceuticals can alleviate nausea, medications may have unwanted side effects, and long-duration missions may impose storage limits restricting drug availability. Preventative interventions may be a suitable alternative. I hypothesize an exercise program that involves yoga inversions and mindful breathing will reduce nausea in suborbital flight compared to a basic exercise program. The results of this study will likely translate to spaceflight due to similar imbalance mechanisms. I propose a pilot randomized trial with ten passengers (the maximum for a Dassault Falcon 20 aircraft). Five passengers will be assigned to a three-month exercise program with yoga inversions (e.g. bridges, headstands) and mindful breathing. Inversions are expected to acclimatize passengers to inner ear imbalances and blood flow changes. Mindful breathing calms the central nervous system; an established mindful breathing routine can assist self-calming during stressful situations. The other five passengers will be assigned to a three-month exercise program without yoga inversions and mindful breathing. As exercise is generally beneficial, the control group will receive this intervention to account for the potential benefits of exercise alone. At baseline, both groups will complete a motion sickness history questionnaire including the Muth Nausea Profile to quantify past motion sickness severity. After the treatment period, all individuals will fly aboard the Falcon 20 and complete the Muth Nausea Profile upon landing. The difference in nausea severity between groups will be assessed with logistic regression, controlling for past nausea experience. Further, the percentage of each group experiencing...

With the increasing diversity of stem fields comes with a relatively simple problem to explain but difficult to solve. Everybody is sized differently. With this in mind, my project idea is modifying space suits to allow for increased ease of mobility in microgravity environments. Differences in shoulder, chest, waist, and hip measurements make estimating the sizing one would need on a spacewalk to be slightly challenging. The methodology would initially require data to collect or analyze the biometrics of the population fit for space travel. From there, we can segment the data into quartiles for the male and female population and see how much overlap exists within our two sub-populations. Reevaluation of segmentation may be done to assure the greatest overlap in sub-populations. At least five members of each quartile will be asked to perform a number of range of motion exercises that would mimic exaggerations of commonly performed tasks in suits that are closest to the wearer’s size and one above. If we are short on staff to participate, we can use the most common suit size that tends to have the largest disparity for ease of motion and have two or three individuals that have different complaints about that particularly size perform the exercises. We can track motion with flexible goniometers and mark where areas of discomfort occur during movement in microgravity. From there, we would have common points of discomfort and could build a 3D map of those areas. From this information, we can use tessellated patterns...

Traveling in space presents obstacles in obtaining food and keeping food fresh. Before we can get down to the science of growing our own food, we first need to find out if fruits or vegetables would stay fresh long enough in an environment without an atmosphere. Here on Earth, when fruits or vegetables rot, it is because of factors like air, moisture, light, temperature, and microbial growth. Microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast and molds need water and nutrients for growth, energy and reproduction. Therefore, would these factors not take into account or would we better be able to control these factors? Let’s find out if fruits and vegetables stay fresh longer in space! We will determine that the apple and zucchini are still fresh if they retain their color and do not show signs of mold. I anticipate that the apple and zucchini will stay fresh longer in space capsules. Step 1: Place the apple and the zucchini in a compartment where they are allowed to be exposed to the open environment of the capsule (Balloon, Air Craft, or Sub-Orbital Flight). Step 2: Take daily readings of air quality, moisture, light exposure, temperature, and signs of microbial growth. We will do this for both the control group and the test group. We will continue our observations for the duration of the flight. Step 3: Compare observations between the control group and the test group....

I am studying unmanned systems, specializing in space systems, at Embry-Riddle AU WW, Seymour Johnson AFB campus. It is a non-engineering degree, and being in a rural area does not afford me the opportunity to conduct research outside of academic reading. Prior to finishing my BS in IT, I majored in Forensic Anthropology at University of Hawaii; we learned how to use bones to ID individuals and, per The Body Farm in Tennessee, we learned how to relate bodily injuries to bone evidence. In my video, I touch on the fact that I worry we will bring our Earthly issues into space where battles, once again, fought over borders and differences. This may sound incredibly sci-fi, but considering human past and present, I think the conversation pertinent. I wonder how medical care would look in microgravity, whether on another celestial body or on the ISS. Not just cuts and bruises - I am interested in how blunt force trauma or near-fatal injuries, from humans attacking other humans, could be handled. I don't know if the behavior of a cadaver would match that of a human well enough to try, as I am not a medical student by any means. Taking this a step further, though, I would be interested in the crossover between injuries in microgravity and unmanned systems. There are robotic surgeons that are remotely operated, with some hoping to make them autonomous in the future. Would microgravity affect its performance? Could this be tested on cadavers? Humans moving...

The Overview Effect is a phenomenon experienced by some astronauts upon gazing down at Earth from space. The perspective shift is generally regarded as a positive change in worldview. Little experimental data has been collected on the experience; our assumptions about The Overview Effect are based in anecdotal evidence. Objectives: 1. Pinpoint the changes in brainwave activity while experiencing The Overview Effect 2. Identify the neuro-characteristics that make a person more likely to experience The Overview Effect 3. Evaluate if the experience has a lasting effect on the person’s brain Method: I. Persons participating in this experiment are subject to an electroencephalography (EEG) and shown images of natural scenes and displays of human connection. The brainwaves are recorded before the participant experiences suborbital flight. This reading is the control data. II. The participant experiences a suborbital flight viewing the planet from the highest point possible. During this flight an EEG records brainwave activity while viewing Earth. III. Immediately after the flight is complete, an EEG is performed with similar Phase I images to record the reaction post-experience. IV. Three months after the participant’s suborbital flight, another EEG is performed with image viewing. V. EEGs from I, III, and IV are comparatively analyzed to distinguish any variants in reactions to the images viewed (Obj 1&3). The control data compares the data produced in II. to establish the variants produced by the experiment itself (Obj 2). Anticipated Results: The EEG results vary significantly between I and II The amount of variance may be used to quantify The Overview Effect and show distinguished characteristics before...

Objective: To Explore the behavior of Fluids inside of Rotating Bodies in Zero-G Environments. Methods: Researcher will create and manufacture a system with an acrylic box that will be rotated at varying angular velocities in at least two axes to observe the response of the fluid inside the rotating body within a zero-g environment. Results: Results will show the initial and steady-state responses of the fluid within its enclosed environment in response the the systems input (set rotation speeds). Since zero-g environments often cause a drastic change in the primary response of fluid systems (surface tension and capillary effects becoming major parameters), I would like to see if there is an extraordinarily different response than we would typically anticipate inside of a 1g environment. Anticipated Results: 1g: (Low Speed) The fluids within the rotating body will congregate around the lower outside surfaces of the rotating body due to the experienced centripetal forces experienced by the individual fluid particles, the force of gravity and the force of surface tension. (High Speed) The fluids within the rotating body will congregate around the outside surfaces of the rotating body due to the experienced centripetal forces experienced by the individual fluid particles. 0g: (Low Speed) The fluids within the rotating body will take the shape of the outer surfaces of the rotating body or potentially, the shape of the continuously empty space inside the body. (High Speed) The highly viscous fluids within the rotating body will roughly take the shape of the continuously empty space inside the rotating body...