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Physics students work with NASA

April 13, 2012

Six students in the Department of Physics at Loyola University New Orleans will spend four days at NASA’s world-class Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine, Texas next month to conduct a unique experiment that will measure atmospheric temperature, pressure and humidity.

As part of the Louisiana Aerospace Catalyst Experiences for Students (LaACES) project, students will gain hands-on experience with experimental design and construction, project management and life-cycle, data collection, analysis and interpretation. During LaACES, the students will design, build, fly and analyze the data returned from small experimental payloads carried up to 100,000 feet by a helium-filled latex sounding balloon.

Under the direction of assistant physics professor Patrick Garrity, Ph.D., Team Iggy, consisting of Taylor Kall, Dave Vumbaco, Thomas Slack, John Duhe, Riley Mayes and Cameron McCormick, have been building their experiment over the past several months. The launch will take place at the NASA facility on May 22.

The experience is enhanced through flight readiness reviews, flight operation meetings, team-driven post-data analysis and a final science presentation to be given by the team. The interaction with NASA personnel and the world-class balloon facility is intended to further prepare the students for integration into the technical and scientific workforce.

The LaACES pilot program, run during the 2002-03 academic year, involved students from Louisiana State University and Southern University. During the 2004-05 year, LaACES expanded the pilot program to several institutions across the state. Loyola University, a Louisiana Space Consortium member institution, is now engaged in the annual balloon program. LaACES at Loyola University is funded by a grant from NASA's National Space Grant College and Fellowship program,

For more information, contact Garrity at plgarrit@loyno.edu or (504) 865-3644.

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