Age: 22 Hometown: Fort Washington, Maryland High School Attended: National Christian Academy College Attending: West Virginia University Field of Study and Year: Junior studying Aerospace Engineering Unique fact about me: I am an Air Force cadet in the WVU ROTC program
Why you applied for the NASA Internship? While working on undergraduate research, through the West Virginia Space Grant Consortium (WVSGC) Ms. Candy Cordwell, program manager, informed me of the opportunity. Once being informed, I took the necessary actions to make sure I could be part of the NASA IV&V team. Working at NASA IV&V would open many doors for me and would help me relate the material that was thought in the classroom and apply it to real world scenarios. It would also give me a great first person point of view of how an engineering environment feels like and a good way to start learning the ins and outs of the career field.
What are you doing for NASA (brief summary of intern project)? I worked under Marcus Fisher and alongside fellow intern Morgan Cassels. We are working in creating and further developing a payload capable of carrying a NDVI camera to capture images of the surrounding vegetation during the total solar eclipse that will occur on August 21, 2017. We will be attaching our payload to a weather balloon designed by The West Virginia Space Grant Consortium, that will be launched from Southern Illinois.
What do you like most about working for NASA? I enjoy the atmosphere and environment that it has to offer. Not only is the staff helpful and cordial they show excitement and enthusiasm toward all the interns and making us feel at home. Also, walking through the halls of the buildings is like walking through the halls of an enormous library, in the sense that there is an abundance of knowledge here.
Where do you see yourself after entering in your career? Since I am currently enrolled in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) at West Virginia University, I will be commissioned as an Officer in the Air Force once I graduate with my Aerospace Engineering degree. While in the Air Force I plan on working as a Flight Test Engineer. After the Air Force I intend on working with the Department of Defense but still staying on the engineering side of it all.
Hi, my name is Morgan Novak. I am from a small town in southeast Texas called Hamshire. With Hamshire’s population of about 1500, my household takes up a whopping 1%. As the second oldest of way too many siblings, coming to West Virginia was a nice change in scenery. It is so beautiful here!
This year I will be a sophomore at the University of North Texas. I am double majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and minoring in Math. I am interested in both the hardware and software side of things. I love learning more about new topics/ideas and showing that knowledge off in hackathons.
In my free time I play soccer with my friends and family and last year I coached my little sister’s team. This year, however, I was low on free time due to starting my own company. I am currently testing the second prototype of my product before I pursue anything further.
Getting an internship here has been dream come true! I have wanted to work for NASA ever since I was little. In my junior year of high school, I participated in the Texas High school Aerospace Scholars (HAS) program where I got to stay at JSC for a week and work with real engineers. Participating in these two opportunities has sealed the deal; after graduating from UNT my goal is to get a full time position contributing to the advancement of space travel.
Name: Adison Nordstrom Age: 20 Education and year in school: Rising junior at West Virginia University Area of study or intended area of study: Computer science major, physics minor Unique fact about you: I swam competitively for 10-11 years. What brought you to NASA? I applied for a 2016 summer internship here, got it, and now I’m back for a second summer. Where you see yourself after you enter into your career? Hopefully software development, either with a tech company or with NASA.
Sydney Michalski, a sophomore at West Virginia University (WVU), is originally from Fairmont, West Virginia. She’s currently working on her double undergraduate major in English and mathematics. She’s also part of WVU’s Uteach program, which will allow her to receive her teaching certificate upon graduation. During the school year and when she’s not in class, she works at the university’s student center, the Mountainlair, as a building supervisor for Night Operations. In the summers, she’s usually working at the local ice cream shop, the Dairy Crème Corner in Fairmont, as a shift leader. Of course this summer she’s working with NASA’s IV&V folks to help gain a better understanding of where she’d like to go after graduation. Sydney likes to unwind by dabbling in pottery and hopes to make a full kitchen set for when she moves into her first apartment this year.
Sydney says she wanted to work at NASA’s IV&V Program, because she had a lot of friends who spent their summer interning at the program and told her that had great experiences. Sydney sees herself working in the education field in some capacity, whether it be in the public school system, with an education program at NASA, or anything else that will let her positively influence young kids, especially girls, to enter STEM fields with confidence.
In an effort to provide students with the stepping stones necessary to carry out the goals of the Space Flight Design Challenge, academic institutions have been provided with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through RockSat-C. The NASA IV&V Space Flight Design Challenge is an initiative aimed towards engaging students of West Virginia in the STEM disciplines needed to successfully build and test critical systems. By enhancing the knowledge and capabilities of students through hands-on spacecraft development, they will be enabled to compete in the development of their own flight systems in space. Primarily, the overall goal of this initiative is to foster innovative advancements in both high school and college students across the nation. As a result, students will be equipped to compete in the fabrication & operation of flight systems in Low Earth Orbit via amateur radio operations.
Through RockSat-C, students and mentors can actively participate in the design & build phases of their own scientific payload. Inevitably, this payload will be launched on a sounding rocket out of Wallops Flight Facility at the close of the academic school year. The fall semester is comprised of engaging students in the full design & review process whilst the primary goal of spring semester is to prepare each team for the Launch Readiness Review. In order to do so successfully, each of the payloads will undergo multiple phases of testing and integration to ensure its suitability for flight.
This year’s Rock Sat-C mission statement:
“To embark on a collaborative effort with academic institutions across the state of West Virginia for development and expansion of knowledge and practical experience in designing, building, launching, and operating space payloads.”
In order to accomplish this vision, our teams have developed a variety of experiments that will inevitably benefit the small sat community. Of those scientific payloads are:
Bridge Valley Community Technical College Stain Gauge Experiment
Objective: To measure strain on a series of material samples and model flight path
West Virginia University Langmuir Probe Experiment
Objective: Measure plasma density in upper atmosphere
Blue Field State College Vehicle and Inertial Measurement and Tracking Experiment
Objective: To gather real-time flight data & Use this data to determine the flight path, trajectory, altitude, and rotation of the rocket
Fairmont State University Flight Dynamics Analysis Experiment
Objective: To capture and store real-time flight data, then show the flight path.
Blue Ridge Community Technical College PiGen (Piezo Electric Generator) Experiment
Objective: To measure the output of 3 Piezoelectric generators on the X Y and Z axis with 2 ADCs.
West Virginia Wesleyan College Harvest Energy Experiment
Objective: To harvest energy by using a Thermocouple and Piezoelectric crystal on the rocket flight.
Shown above is an Isometric (top) and Dimetric (bottom) view of the canister. (Image by Roger Targosky)
Throughout the Conceptual, Preliminary, and Critical Design review, WV-SPACE has displayed both scientific merit & a feasible implementation plan. At this point the payload has been largely cleared by COSGC and Wallops Flight Facility and has been selected to fly in canister #5 and share space Oregon Institute of Technology. The payload is projected to launch aboard a Terrier-Improved Orion sounding rocket on June 22nd 2017.
We would also like to send ours thanks to NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program for supporting our student outreach initiatives and congratulate all of our dedicated teams for being a part of the Space Flight Design Challenge and cleared for launch.
Emily Certain | Student Trainee
NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program
This fall, White Hall Elementary School in White Hall, W.Va., sponsored a First Lego League Junior (FLL Jr.) team. Eleven fourth-grade team members and two coaches met twice a week for several months to develop a LEGO model, poster and presentation to illustrate what they learned as part of this year’s CREATURE CRAZE Challenge. As part of their meetings, the Mighty Builders participated in West Virginia’s First Spacecraft LEGO Challenge.
The challenge fit naturally into the learning the students were doing as part of the CREATURE CRAZE Challenge.
“The team and building rules were similar to what we were doing for FLL Jr., and the kids needed to begin learning about our WeDo LEGO set, how the motors and sensors work, and how to program it, so this challenge seemed like a natural fit for our meetings,” coach Mark Suder said.
With the guidance of their coaches, the kids split into several teams to create LEGO satellite models, then chose one to add motors, sensors and a brain to. Following the addition of and learning about these parts, the kids brainstormed about the questions that were posed to them for West Virginia’s First Spacecraft LEGO Challenge. Those questions were:
What you want to have in West Virginia’s second spacecraft and why?
What is different from your LEGO STF-1 and NASA’s LEGO STF-1 and why?
How do CubeSats affect space exploration around the world?
“Creative, energetic, smart, enthusiastic! Those are the words I would use to describe the students,” Suder said. “As the coach, I have been both proud and inspired to be part of this team. These kids are the future of the country, and with all the negative news these days it is neat to see that there is also a lot of hope for the future based on these inspirational young people of today. Besides, who doesn’t like playing with LEGOs?”
The team was incredibly excited to learn that they had won the First Spacecraft LEGO Challenge and was excited to tour NASA IV&V and receive their first place prize.
In addition to the tour, and to both congratulate and celebrate the accomplishments of this team, NASA’s IV&V Program invited the students, their teachers, as well as the school’s principal to attend IV&V’s Internal Award Event. The students were presented with certificates of appreciation, and in return, presented IV&V’s Director Greg Blaney, as well as the program, with a thank you card from the team.
Mark Suder | Systems Analyst
NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program
The NASA Software of the Year competition is an annual competition sponsored by the Offices of the Chief Engineer, Safety and Mission Assurance (SMA), and the Chief Information Officer. Software teams across each of the NASA centers submit software applications and suites submit an extensive application detailing their software, all software project documentation, reference letters, SMA documentation, and associated publications. The teams give a presentation at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. and then the applications and presentations are reviewed by a special Software Panel with representatives from across the agency. The applications are reviewed on the software’s innovativeness, impact, and usability.
In 2016, the Jon McBride Software Testing and Research (JSTAR) team submitted the James Webb Space Telescope Integration Simulation and Test (JIST) software for consideration and was the sole representative for Goddard Space Flight Center and IV&V Program. JIST is a software-only simulation environment of the JWST Spacecraft that provides the capability to exercise the unmodified flight software binaries as delivered from the JWST development organizations. JIST is comprised of software from multiple organizations and includes software from nine separate development teams. To demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of a JIST-like solution, a new instance of JIST can be deployed for approximately $10,400; whereas to deploy a hardware-equivalent environment, the cost would be approximately $1,019,087, a cost reduction of 99%.
In 2016, seven centers competed in the competition. JIST received honorable mention in the competition and the co-winners were from Langley Research Center (Traffic Awareness Planner) and Ames Research Center (Pegasus 5.2: Software for Automated Pre-Processing of Overset CFD Grids).
A special thank you goes to everyone who supported the team through JIST usage, reference letters, and peer reviews of application materials and presentations. In addition, thank you to Enidia Santiago and Sia Argue from the GSFC technology office for supporting the nomination and the team in its submission. It is a great honor, and we were proud to represent GSFC and IV&V.
Justin Morris Computer Engineer
NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program
The average person may not be able to identify every planet in our solar system; however, most will recognize Jupiter, due to its enormous size and Great Red Spot. This giant planet is the fifth planet from our sun and is also the largest planet in our solar system. It is named after the king of the gods from Roman mythology.
To explore and better understand it’s evolution, NASA created the mission, Juno. While an attempt to make the mission name an actual acronym, Juno is simply named after the wife of the king of the gods, Jupiter. The spacecraft will investigate the planet’s origins, interior structure, deep atmosphere and magnetosphere. Juno’s study of Jupiter will help us to understand the history of our own solar system and provide new insight into how planetary systems form and develop in our galaxy and beyond.
Juno’s payload includes the following:
A gravity/radio science system (Gravity Science)
A six-wavelength microwave radiometer for atmospheric sounding and composition (MWR)
A vector magnetometer (MAG)
Plasma and energetic particle detectors (JADE and JEDI)
A radio/plasma wave experiment (Waves)
An ultraviolet imager/spectrometer (UVS)
An infrared imager/spectrometer (JIRAM)
Color camera (JunoCam) – JunoCam is not necessary for scientific purposes; however, it will likely provide the public with what should be some of the most vivid images of the giant planet ever captured.
The figure below shows the Juno orbiter along with additional details.
We worked alongside with the development team for four years, sometimes at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, and sometimes at Lockheed Martin in Denver, Colorado. We all came to admire the elegant, intricate mission design, and the profound and complex science objectives. While none too great to overcome, there were certainly challenges we faced everywhere. Often, these challenges were the small things that were the most difficult. The overall design and implementation was nearly unchanged from the beginning days. For our IV&V team, it was a project where we all learned new ways of describing and viewing our work. An open mind was required at all times, and creativity was at a premium. In the end we were successful, and that made the launch even more amazing.
On August 5, 2011, NASA launched the Juno spacecraft from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It was a blistering hot and humid day typical for Florida this time of year. A couple of the team members from the Juno IV&V team were lucky enough to attend the launch. It was very exciting, especially never having attended a launch before. There were a couple of planned holds during the countdown, however, during one of these, there was a helium leak discovered on the ground system that threatened the launch to be canceled. Everyone waited anxiously while the intense heat from the sun continued to beat down. A bold and overheated member of our group talked the refreshment stand out of a bucket of ice which we promptly stuffed into our hats and shirts in order to cool down. It was effective, but we looked like shipwreck survivors. Making matters worse, a boat ventured into a restricted area and had to be escorted out of the area before the launch could proceed. Fortunately, these issues were resolved before the launch window expired, and the Juno countdown continued. At T-0, the Atlas V launch vehicle blasted off. Speakers mounted near the spectators allowed the crowed to start to hear the rumblings from the rocket real time. The static-like sound intensified until overtaken by the actual thundering sounds from the rocket once the sound waves made their way across the bay. The rocket seemed to hover at first, but quickly accelerated. After a short time, the rocket was out of sight. It was a tremendous relief to see the rocket leave our view without any sign of an anomaly. However, the bigger relief was about an hour later when we heard that the Juno separated successfully from the launch vehicle.
Nearly five years later, Juno is scheduled to reach Jupiter on July 4, 2016 during the maneuver called Jupiter Orbit Insertion (JOI). JOI is the most risky step remaining in the mission. This type of maneuver can and has failed on past missions. So even though the IV&V team was able to develop significant confidence that the flight software would successfully support this maneuver, there still exists a possibility that something could go wrong. However, we’ll all be anxiously awaiting this JOI and look forward to the data that will come following the 37 orbits the craft will make around this giant planet.
Charlie Broadwater | Engineer Sam Brown | IV&V Analyst
NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program
The Simulation-to-Flight 1 (STF-1) CubeSat mission aims to demonstrate how legacy simulation technologies may be adapted for flexible and effective use on missions using the CubeSat platform. These technologies, named NASA Operational Simulator (NOS), have demonstrated significant value on several missions such as James Webb Space Telescope, Global Precipitation Measurement, Juno, and Deep Space Climate Observatory in the areas of software development, mission operations/training, verification and validation (V&V), test procedure development and software systems check-out. STF-1 will demonstrate a highly portable simulation and test platform that allows seamless transition of mission development artifacts to flight products. This environment will decrease development time of future CubeSat missions by lessening the dependency on hardware resources. In addition, through a partnership between NASA GSFC, the West Virginia Space Grant Consortium and West Virginia University, the STF-1 CubeSat will host payloads for three secondary objectives that aim to advance engineering and physical-science research in the areas of navigation systems of small satellites, provide useful data for understanding magnetosphere ionosphere coupling and space weather, and verify the performance and durability of III-V Nitride-based materials.
The mission is progressing on schedule and targeting a late 2016 launch. Our initial launch opportunity in November 2016 was not acquired, so the team will continue to work while pursuing another launch opportunity with the NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI). The team still has plenty of work to do. Following a successful Table Top Review in April 2015 the team identified the major components for the spacecraft bus and began procurement. The GOMSpace Nanomind A3200 flight computer, and SolAero Tech solar cells have arrived. We are currently awaiting the delivery of the UHF radio and antenna, spacecraft chassis, and our electrical power systems. Not all of the components are COTS, so the team has carefully designed solar panels and interface cards by leveraging the lessons learned from other GSFC CubeSats. A clean room and lab space have also been secured to be used for the integration and testing of the spacecraft.
The flight software (FSW) for STF-1 is currently in development. The team has branched from the default version of GSFC’s Core Flight Software (cFE/CFS), and has begun integrating applications used on the Dellingr CubeSat mission. CFS has been integrated with the ITC developed simulation software, NOS Engine, to allow for simulation of hardware components either not yet acquired, or still in development. An initial version of the STF-1 Advanced CubeSat Simulation Library (ACSL) was provided, along with a development environment, to the WVU science teams in July. The STF-1 team plans to continue maturing the ACSL as more fidelity is needed to support the FSW development.
Ground Systems support will be provided by NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility located on the coast of Virginia. The STF-1 team has chosen to use the same communications hardware as the other GSFC CubeSats so that ground station support is the same across missions. The 18M dish at Wallops will provide the team with up to 3.0Mbps downlink speed.
When Clyde Tombaugh (1906–1997) discovered a tiny object on a pair of photographic plates, one has to wonder if he could have foreseen that it would take 62 more years to find another object in the distant solar system or that it would lead to a yet to be discovered region of space. In 1930, rocketry was still in its infancy and deep space travel was the work of popular science fiction. Therefore, it would have been a far off dream for Tombaugh to think about visiting his discovery, which we now know as Pluto. However, on July 14, 2015, that is exactly what he will do, when the New Horizons spacecraft makes a Flyby of the Pluto-Charon system. New Horizons is carrying a sample of Tombaugh’s ashes donated to the mission by his wife, Patricia Tombaugh (1912–2012), to commemorate his discovery of Pluto.
For people that grew up in the educational system of the United States prior to 1992, Pluto was always the Ninth planet from the Sun and an anomaly when compared to the rest of the planets in our solar system. The Inner planets are characterized by being similar rocky bodies that are relatively close to the sun. Next there were the Outer planets, consisting of large gaseous planets with tumultuous atmospheres. Then there was Pluto; a small planet rotating around the sun in an elliptical orbit that was out of plane with the rest of the planets. The questions of why Pluto was different were not able to be answered until technology allowed for better views of deep space. In 1992, The first trans-Neptunian object since Pluto and Charon was discovered in 1992 and since then more than 1,500 objects have been identified. This region is characterized by small ice worlds that orbit the sun in vast number of Astronomical Units beyond Pluto and has been called the Kuiper Belt.
The idea to send a probe to visit the region started to form in the early-1990’s. And although there were many proposals for missions that would visit the small planet, it wasn’t until NASA established as part of the New Frontiers program that a stable stream of funding was made available to fund such a mission. It was in this climate that the New Horizons mission was born. Led by Alan Stern as Principle Investigator, New Horizons is a joint effort between the South West Research Institute and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). APL provides for the mission management of the spacecraft.
New Horizons was launched from Kennedy Space Center on January 19, 2006 aboard an Atlas V rocket with second and third stages to provide it the necessary velocity to be the first spacecraft launched directly into a solar escape trajectory. The primary goals of the mission are to map the surface composition and to characterize the global geology and atmosphere of Pluto. This data will help provide context for the formulation of the Pluto system and establish some understanding of its role in the formation of the early solar system. Its extended mission is to encounter one or more objects in the Kuiper Belt beyond Pluto and conduct similar data collection exercises.
In order to accomplish these goals, the spacecraft has a suite of seven science instruments.
Alice is an ultraviolet spectrometer used for measuring gas composition
Ralph combines an infrared spectrometer (LEISA) for mapping surface composition with a color optical imager (MVIC) for mapping surface structure and composition
REX is a radio experiment for measuring atmospheric composition and temperature
LORRI is an optical telescope that provides the highest resolution imaging of the surface
PEPSSI is a plasma-sensing instrument for measuring particles escaping from Pluto’s atmosphere
SWAP is a plasma-sensing instrument for measuring the properties of the solar wind at Pluto, Pluto’s atmospheric escape rate, and for searching for a magnetosphere around Pluto. The “solar wind” is a stream of charged particles streaming away from the Sun at high speed.
SDC, an instrument used to measure dust impacts at the New Horizons spacecraft during its entire trajectory, was built by students at the University of Colorado!
To get a sense of the size of the spacecraft, it is possible to see a scale model of it hanging in the Udvar-Hazy Center, which is the National Air & Space Museum Annex at Dulles International Airport. The spacecraft has been compared to the size of a baby grand piano.
Subsequent to the launch of New Horizons, the International Astronomical Union reclassified Pluto from planet to dwarf planet status. However, this does not diminish the historical nature of the mission. The science data collected will greatly enhance the science communities understanding of Pluto, be able to validate assumptions and speculations about its surface features and compositions, and hopefully inspire the next generation of deep space scientists.
My Recollections of New Horizons IV&V
The IV&V planning and scoping efforts for the New Horizons mission began in late 2002. The CARA process was used in establishing the scope of the analyses performed. It was determined that Command and Data Handling (C&DH), Guidance, Navigation & Control (GN&C) and the Ralph instrument were to receive full life-cycle IV&V. There were two instruments which were determined to be of sufficiently low risk and not significant contributors to the primary science goals and therefore were not provided any IV&V coverage. Those were the REX and SDC instruments. The remainder of the instruments suite were addressed via IV&V requirements and test analysis activities. There was also some initial work performed on the Ground Software, but it was high reuse and it was determined that further work in that area would not be productive use of IV&V efforts.
One of the tasks performed during the New Horizons test campaign was an analysis of the Comprehensive Performance tests. This required additional IV&V analysis resources to be added to support the timely analysis of that large set of test artifacts. This type of analysis was needed due to the way that APL had structured their acceptance testing, for which IV&V had generated a risk. They had placed requirements verification into the system test world where it was exercised in a more day in the life kind of way.
Due to the tight constraints that were placed on the launch window, APL decided to slip functionality to a post-launch upload. They had one period that extended in January 2006 and allowed for the Jupiter Gravitational Assist and one that was in February 2006 that was a direct to Pluto launch and would have added four years to the time line (missing those two would have been a significant launch delay). They ended up making the window for the gravitational assist. Therefore, we performed C&DH and GN&C analysis post-launch, primarily this was code analysis and final test analysis. I believe there were two in-flight issues with the GN&C processor, which we supported. Ultimately, one was determined to be in the Detection and Correction Code (EDAC) hardware and the other was a problem with the autocoder.
Over the 9 year history of the mission, there were only two safe mode entries, that I am aware of. One occurred back in 2007 and was similar to the GN&C reset related to EDAC hardware. The other happened July 4th and appeared to come from trying to use the software differently than originally intended. The original operations philosophy was that they would start N number of weeks prior to the fly-by and start taking data. They would keep taking data until about the same N number of weeks past the fly-by (part of that was the occultation data collection and some radio experiment), then compress, then downlink. Downlink was to take on the order of nine months. Over the years, it seems they have revamped their operational plans based on the lessons learned from their Jupiter fly-by and from yearly encounter planning meetings. So when the safe mode entry happened, they were uploading a command sequence, while taking data and compressing data, so the sequencing got overwhelmed.
I find this mission fascinating. In the time that New Horizons has been cruising to Pluto, I was married, my son was born, I watched him learn to crawl, learn to talk, learn to walk, lost my wife, and have seen my son complete nearly a quarter of his schooling. I hope this event inspires kids of his age to aspire to be the next generation of discovery leaders.
Van Casdorph Systems Engineer
NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program