NASA Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunity Program
- Served during 2001-2002 as project manager for an undergraduate two-phase flow, microgravity experiment that flew aboard NASAs KC-135 Weightless Wonder.
- Accomplished research that simulated forced convection film boiling in microgravity and ascertained how static mixer geometries affected heat transfer to fluid.
- M. Parang, J.B. Tipton, and J.D. Garth, Two-Phase Flow Heat Transfer Under Microgravity Condition, in 41st Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit, Reno, Nevada, 6-9 January 2003, AIAA 2003-1302.
- Viatcheslav Naoumov, Masood Parang, Christopher Shough, and Joseph Tipton, Droplet Entrainment in Two-Phase Flow Under Reduced Gravity, in 45th Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit, Reno, Nevada, 8-11 January 2007, AIAA 2007-743.
- Tipton, Joseph Brown, "MAMMOTH Flow: Making a Mixing Measurement of Two-pHase Flow" (2002). University of Tennessee Honors Thesis Projects.
"The Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program provides a unique academic experience for undergraduate students to successfully propose, design, fabricate, fly and evaluate a reduced gravity experiment of their choice over the course of six months. The overall experience includes scientific research, hands-on experimental design, test operations and educational/public outreach activities.
"The reduced gravity aircraft generally flies 30 parabolic maneuvers over the Gulf of Mexico. This parabolic pattern provides about 30 seconds of hypergravity (about 1.8G-2G) as the plane climbs to the top of the parabola. Once the plane starts to nose over the top of the parabola to descend toward Earth, the plane experiences about 25 seconds of microgravity (0G). At the very top and bottom of the parabola, flyers experience a mix of partial G's between 0 and 1.8 (called 'dirty air')." [Taken from the RGSFROP website]
From 2000-2002, I was a founding member of a group of students from UT who participated in this program as an extracurricular activity. In 2002, I served as project leader for the group. Our desire was to augment our undergraduate education with a "real" engineering experience. In the process, we brought great publicity to the UT College of Engineering and established the NASA RGSFOP as a viable senior capstone design course for the mechanical engineering program.
Our research sought to simulate film boiling (an unwanted engineering scenario) in a pipe under forced convection. Several geometrical pipe changes were then used to mix the separated two-phase flow in an effort to augment heat transfer in microgravity conditions. These devices were compared both qualitatively and quantitatively to a smooth pipe configuration to ascertain their effectiveness. More information, including the final report, can be found here.
The project offered many opportunities for educational outreach, as NASA intended. Above, I am explaining microgravity research to a group of middle school students during the UT College of Engineering 2002 "Engineer's Day". Below are several publications produced by the University of Tennessee that featured my work. Click on them to view the larger document.