|Posted on Jan 28, 2011 08:29:02 AM | Gerald Steeman | 1 Comments ||
STI Program Office
Many NASA researchers are well known in their specific fields and have received numerous honors and distinctions, but they may not be a household name to you. Perhaps they have never flown a space shuttle, broken the sound barrier, or made headlines by diving deep into the ocean depths. Their NASA research and contributions, however, put them, in our minds, into the category of NASA’s unsung heroes.
In this blog, we highlight Joel S. Levine of NASA Langley Research Center. Joel is a senior research scientist in Langley’s Science Directorate, and he has been the principal investigator and chief scientist of the proposed NASA Langley ARES Mars Airplane Mission. ARES (Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Surveyor) is Langley’s proposed robotic, rocket-powered Mars airplane designed to investigate the atmosphere, surface, and sub-surface of Mars. ARES was one of four finalists in the first Mars Scout Mission competition. See Joel’s talk on ARES for TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) below.
In December 2010, Joel co-edited a 974-page book entitled, The Human Mission to Mars: Colonizing the Red Planet (Cosmology Science Publishers, Cambridge, MA).
Joel studies the atmospheres of Earth and Mars, and tracks their development and changes to learn how similar they are and what Earth can learn from Mars.
He also has worked at the request of the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C., to lead a team of NASA scientists to solve the mystery of why tiny white spots were forming in the hermetically sealed encasements containing the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Why? As a science detective (is that similar to a “history detective”?) to find out why, the team used noninvasive techniques that were originally developed to measure trace gases in the Earth's atmosphere. To everyone’s great surprise, they measured very high concentrations of water vapor in the hermetically sealed encasements. It turned out that the high concentrations of water vapor chemically reacted with the glass encasements, thus causing the leaching out of alkaline material from the glass. This resulted in the formation of the mysterious white spots. Result? Joel and his NASA Team helped to preserve the founding documents of the United States of America! Now that is impressive!
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