Have you ever wished you could venture beyond Earth and explore among the stars? We certainly have. Alas, for the time being such explorations remain in the domain of imagination and science fiction. However, thanks to the precision of modern stellar catalogs, we can map the nearby stars and render their positions on your computer screen, allowing you to explore among them from the comfort of home! Click to access one such stellar visualization, created by MDSGC volunteer M. Prem. The accompanying text explains what is displayed and how it works. Have questions? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2020 Student Research Symposium
The 2020 MDSGC Student Research Symposium was held via Zoom on Friday, August 7, showcasing presentations by student interns and researchers working at sites across Maryland.
This year’s cohort of presenters represented diverse institutions, including: Capitol Technology University, Goddard Space Flight Center, Hagerstown Community College, Kennedy Space Center, Morgan State University, Towson University, University of Maryland Baltimore County, University of Maryland College Park, and University of Maryland Eastern Shore. We congratulate our students on a successful summer, under trying circumstances, and look forward to seeing more of their work in the future!
The full program follows. This page may be updated to include links to PDF of slides as final presentation versions are submitted.
2020 MDSGC (Virtual) Student Research Symposium Program
The main objective of this presentation is to break down the process that was taking place over the summer on this project. Also, to give a clear understanding of the Robotic Mining Competition project and persuade others to join the cause.
We report on experiments with a Coulomb balance and Cavendish balance which we hope to integrate into the physics curriculum at Towson University. The Coulomb balance measures the electrostatic force between two charged spheres, while the Cavendish balance measures the gravitational force between two heavy masses. We have been able to confirm the 1/r^2 behavior of Coulomb’s law, after correcting for a weakening effect at small distances due to mutual polarization of the test charges. We are now taking our first data with the Cavendish balance. Both experiments are challenging, but comparable in difficulty with some of the more advanced components of our existing Intermediate Laboratory course.
The presentation focuses on the activity created for the USNA STEM Center. The activity focuses on basic cybersecurity principles in combination with satellites. Students have to build, launch, and successfully recover a model satellite.
My remote internship was split into two projects; robotics and pollution research in correlation to the coronavirus lockdown. The GoPiGo3 robot was the main platform for exposure to robotics and coding languages, specifically Python. Using Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) control I experimented with the line follower sensor to optimize its path tracking. Through web content analysis I looked at pollution data centered around the lockdown period from the first have of this year. This was done in order to explore the reasons behind clear skies that were seen in typically polluted cities.
Observations of quasar reddening demonstrate that extinction by dust in the intergalactic medium is significant at optical wavelengths, but the impact of this extinction on the spectral intensity of the extragalactic background light (EBL) has not yet been assessed in a quantitative way. We use an interstellar dust extinction model of Weingartner and Draine and combine this with simple but physically reasonable expressions for dust evolution to arrive at an intergalactic dust model with two adjustable parameters. The resulting opacities closely match observational constraints from Imara and Loeb at near-optical wavelengths. We convolve this intergalactic dust model with a simple EBL model (described elsewhere in this meeting) to determine that optical EBL intensity is reduced by approximately 3% due to intergalactic dust. The “missing” light is of course shifted to longer wavelengths. Nevertheless, this result is a partial vindication for H.W.M. Olbers and his predecessor, J.P.L. de Cheseaux, who were the first to speculate that an absorbing medium might help to explain the darkness of the night sky.
In a liquid propellant rocket engine, mixing and combustion of liquid propellant and oxidizer occurred in the combustion chamber. Based on Newton’s third law, the nozzle increases velocity of hot products into ultrasonic velocity and thrust. Thus, the nozzle design becomes one of the most critical parts to increase thrust and maximize apogee of the liquid fuel rocket. This study is to investigate the performance of different nozzle types by designing, modelling, and simulating them using current mathematical, CAD, and Computational Fluid Dynamics softwares. Results indicated that nozzle design significantly affected velocity and temperature in the combustion chamber. The dual-bell nozzle was proved as a feasible design like conical and bell nozzles.
In this presentation, I will be explaining my task of studying Hydrophobic surfaces and my results. With a number of uses, we find that they can also be mimicked for other uses. Because of their micro-structures, we also find that these surfaces are oleophilic.
for Use on On-Orbit Satellite Servicers – Justyn Bunkley (UMBC)
On-Orbit Satellite Servicers are an up-and-coming technology in the field of aerospace. These devices will someday go on to repair and restore many operational satellites in low Earth orbit and beyond. One key component to the success of these servicers is a reliable camera system. While current models use one or more stationary cameras, there are limitations to this design. The person controlling the servicer needs to have a wide field of view of the satellite. Designing a pan and tilt camera/light system that can be mounted on the servicers would overcome these limitations, and significantly increase its overall performance. Using motors, sprockets, rods, and sprocket chains, this system could pan two cameras and two miniature lights 60 degrees left and right, as well as 90 degrees up and down. This would allow the controller to have an enhanced field of view on the satellite using a single camera system.
I discuss the life and work of theoretical physicist Yu B. Rumer, a founder of quantum chemistry who also made pioneering contributions to unified field theory based on the idea of extra dimensions (Kaluza-Klein theory). His work remains little known in the West because it was done in captivity in the Soviet gulag, and never translated into English. I summarize some of the key points from our translation of the first two of these articles and discuss the relevance of Rumer’s ideas to modern physics.
This is a review of the ongoing research at the DPL or dusty plasma laboratory. The DPL is working on a new high energy pulsed plasma experiment for the purpose of achieving nuclear fusion. This presentation reviews my work in designing and simulating the circuitry that the experiment will be using.
Novel advancements in lidar technology are being developed to aid in the efficient collection of topographical data. Concurrent Artificial Intelligence Spectrometry and Adaptive Lidar Systems (CASALS) presents one such novel technique. This project seeks to aid the development of CASALS by demonstrating, through a proof of concept, the feasibility of the proposed digital design. A Tektronix 710 arbitrary waveform generator (AWG) and a National Instruments(NI) PXI-8800 chassis equipped with PXIe-5764 digitizer module, PXI-6683H GPS and timing module, and PXIe-8267 storage module replicated multiple components inherent to the digital design and allowed full prototyping of the required sections. The AWG functioned to sufficiently replicate a single stream 8:1 multiplexed input waveform so to test the functionality of the final prototype. A field programmable gate array chip (FPGA chip) housed within the NI PXI-8800 chassis controlled the operation of the prototype and was programmed through LabVIEW, a visual coding language, to control the functions of the prototype. The prototype has successfully digitized an input signal; displayed the signal; collected time, velocity, and location data; and stored all the relevant information in a specified data format onto a storage module. Progress was made on effective data reduction and isolation, however wasn’t perfected. The results of this project suggests that the foundation of CASALS digital design has been proven to work, however other avenues of prototyping such as implementing a more complex data storage format to allow for additional types of data to be stored would be beneficial to make a final determination on this subject.
We report on a “rolling railgun” demonstration that we are developing as a lab activity for calculus-based introductory electromagnetism classes at Towson University. Current from a 9V battery is passed through an iron axle connecting two cylindrical neodymium magnets which serve as wheels. If properly oriented, the magnetic field of these magnets exerts a continuous torque on the axle, propelling the “rolling railgun” along tinfoil rails at accelerations that can approach 1 g. We calculate this acceleration theoretically and find reasonable agreement with experimental measurements. Animations included!
The staggering death toll related to the COVID-19 pandemic has shown a steady decrease in Maryland. Providing a general precise projection about deaths related to COVID-19 will allow citizens to be aware and more cautious in this pandemic. There are different variables that influence the pandemic and response which will assist with the projection data in the forecasting model. The datasets used in this forecasting model is derived from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which forecast data that continues to be refined as the pandemic evolves. This COVID-19 Forecasting Model is intended to assist officials in making decisions about investing in testing, tracing and isolation. Also, individuals will be able to utilize this information which should guide their behavior regarding social distancing.
Morgan State University is developing a single-stage liquid-fueled rocket that will launch to an altitude of 13,000 feet, in the year 2021. The goal this summer was to create 3D models and 2D drawings in CAD for the full assembly of the rocket. The team divided the rocket into sub-components to properly design each component. The nose cone, airframe, boat tail, and fins were all designed separately to fully optimize every component to reduce drag, pressure, temperature, and many other factors. Each sub-component was carefully designed using multiple software tools to prove the effectiveness of each component.
The project focused on the development of a low order Dual Multi-Stream Tube (DMST) model in Matlab that provides accurate data on the power output and efficiency of Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs). The model was used to corroborate Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) data results for a Hybrid-Darrieus-Modified-Savonius (HDMS) turbine design.
Einstein’s field equations of general relativity reduce in the weak-field, low-velocity limit to a set of four differential equations that are almost identical to Maxwell’s equations for the electromagnetic field. These equations govern the behavior of gravito-electric and gravito-magnetic fields sourced by mass and mass currents. We explore some of the implications in a general way, focusing on dimensional arguments and order-of-magnitude estimates to assess the extent to which astrophysical phenomena in extreme environments (such as jets and accretion disks) can be understood, at least in part, as gravitational analogs of the familiar laws of Ampere, Biot-Savart, Faraday and Lenz, and even as real-world examples of “gravitational transformers” in action.
Over the summer 2020 semester, I worked as a NASA intern in the UB-G Exploration Research and Technology Directorate under mentor Dr. Luke Roberson. The goal of the internship was to develop a feasibility study for a new, competitive solution for wastewater treatment that could be utilized for future space exploration. While taking into account conditions unique to interplanetary travel and colonization, the specific idea being justified was a Suspended Aerobic Membrane Bioreactor (SAMBR) to treat low strength wastewater in three mains forms: humidity condensate, urine, and hygiene water. The feasibility study for a SAMBR system relied on the discovery and recording of supporting literature gathered by the intern, which would provide information on what current technology is being utilized for wastewater treatment, details and understanding for how the SAMBR should be designed, and critical foundation material for justifying the development of the SAMBR system.
Each week, the intern would compile and present noteworthy information gathered from peer-reviewed scientific research articles which supplied the background for the development of the SAMBR system. Utilizing systems currently in place on Earth for wastewater treatment, specifically the Modified Ludzack-Ettinger (MLE) process, the team was encouraged to develop a dual-chamber system for treating wastewater in space. Further research into biological systems and interactions supported the installation of a hybrid bacteria-algae biofilm, a system known as Algal-bacterial Symbiosis (ABS), which would grow in a Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor (MBBR). Through utilizing the ABS, the bioreactor would be able to self-sustain homeostasis and, therefore, eliminate the need for human intervention via the removal of excess biomass. The Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor (MBBR) is a system which utilizes biocarriers that grow suspended biofilms; while suspended, the wastewater is allowed unlimited access to the biofilms which will remove all waste products from the wastewater through biological processes and produce potable water as the end product. Ideally, this system will be fully developed and tested for utilization in the Artemis mission; if successful, this system will ensure safe and reliable interplanetary travel for possible colonization of the moon.
This project involved programming a kilo-bot swarm of micro-robots via online simulation, analyzing emergent behavior of individual robots to create a complex system following simple rules.
We revisit dark-matter candidates that arise in Large Extra Dimensions (LED) or “braneworld” theories, in which additional spacelike dimensions are accessible to gravity, but not to the other interactions of the standard model. As a result, gravitons in these theories are able to carry energy “off the brane” and into the higher-dimensional bulk. Constraints can be placed on the number and size of these dimensions through limits on energy lost from supernovae cores, which eventually contributes to the diffuse gamma-ray background (DGRB). We use new observations of the DGRB from the Fermi-LAT satellite to update existing constraints on the theory.
MDSGC offers our sincere congratulations to our student presenters, a huge thanks to our internship mentors, collaborators, and supporting staff, and our hope that all attendees have enjoyed and learned from today’s presentations!
Mercury on the Face of the Sun: 11/11/19
On November 11, 2019, tiny planet Mercury crossed between Earth and the Sun. Observers fortunate enough to be beneath clear skies on the sunward side of the Earth when this happens could hope to view the celestial conjunction, officially known as a transit. Transits of Mercury occur about a dozen times per century. The most recent was in 2016, and the next is in 2032! (In 2032 the transit will not be visible from North America.)
Mercury is quite small, so eclipse glasses are not sufficient to see it. Properly configured solar binoculars, or ideally a high magnification solar telescope, are needed. Always use caution when observing the Sun!
Thanks to those who came up to join us at the Maryland Space Grant Observatory, as we trained our telescopes to follow the transit from approximately 9:00 a.m. — 1:00 p.m. EST. Here is a NASA video showing the full transit:
For more information about the 11/11/2019 Mercury transit, check out this page from NASA JPL or this very detailed page at EclipseWise.com.
Microscopes and Telescopes – Oct. 18
We are pleased to announce a special event at the Observatory on Friday, October 18th! In partnership with the Chesapeake Microscopy & Microanalysis Society, MDSGC will host a public lecture, “Meteorites – from Microscopes to Telescopes” by Emma Bullock. The event will also feature microscopy demonstrations and astronomical observing, weather permitting. See the event flyer for more details (click on image above).
Even if you’ve missed the chance to register, you can still join us for the demonstrations and observing starting around 7:30 p.m.!
2019 Student Research Symposium
The 2019 MDSGC Student Research Symposium, held Saturday, July 27, showcased presentations by more than 30 student interns and researchers working at sites across Maryland. Institutions represented included Capitol Technology University, Goddard Space Flight Center, Hagerstown Community College, Johns Hopkins University, Morgan State University, Towson University, University of Maryland Baltimore County, University of Maryland College Park, and University of Maryland Eastern Shore. We congratulate our students on a successful summer and look forward to seeing more of their work in the future!
The full program follows, including links to presentation files (in PDF) where available. This page will be updated as final presentation versions are submitted.
Talk Session 1
Manufacturing Detailed 3D Models of Spacecraft Hardware in Support of Goddard Mission Proposals — Marcelo Arispe-Guzman
Dusty Plasma Lab: Voltage Amplifier Design and Construction Using Piezoelectric Elements — Marcus Bailey
Autonomous Instrumented Robotic Sensory Platforms to Advance Creativity and Engage Students (AIRSPACES) — Zachary Chavez
Spectroscopy Diagnostics/Mirrors for Critical Ionization Velocity Measurements — Kim Frost
Superhero Physics as a Teaching Tool in Introductory Physics (PDF) — Jasmine Jackson
A Model for Intergalactic Dust and its Impact on the Extragalactic Background Light (PDF) — Maegan Jennings
Gravitational Lensing and a First Test of Exotic Topology (PDF) — Greg Kuri
Development of Spacecraft Contact Analysis and Maneuver Planning Scenarios for Spacecraft Operations Training — Lucia Stainer
Dust Size Characterization through Microscopy — Bojiun (Andy) Tsao
Decoding Light Characteristics in Space — Shuchen Zhang
Reliability of Stormwater Best Management Practices in Washington, D.C. (PDF) — Mohammadreza Jabehdari
3D Design and Manufacturing Analysis of Liquid Propellant Rocket Engine (LPRE) Nozzle (PDF) — Marc Caballes and Sam Alamu
Talk Session 2
Moon Landing Celebration July 15, 2019
Thanks to everyone who came out to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing!
2019 JHU Physics Fair
The weather cooperated! And we had a good turnout for the 16th Annual Physics Fair at JHU, sponsored in part by MDSGC, which was held from 11-5:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 27th, 2019.
Each year during the Physics Fair, the Bloomberg Center for Physics & Astronomy on JHU’s Homewood Campus (click here for directions) is open to the public and hosts activities, competitions, shows, and many hands-on physics demonstrations to intrigue the mind and delight the senses. This family-friendly STEM event is especially designed to inspire future scientists. We hope you can join us next year!
If you attended this year and haven’t already done so, we encourage you to fill out this brief survey to let us know what you think! As always, you can find more information to stoke your scientific curiosity at the Physics Fair Links page.
Hope to see you next year!
2018 Student Research Symposium
MDSGC held its 2018 Student Research Symposium on Saturday, July 28th, at the Mt. Washington Conference Center in Baltimore, MD. The overall schedule was:
Click here for directions to the Mt. Washington Conference Center.
Click here for presentation guidelines (PDF).
The full program follows, including links to presentation files (in PDF) where available. This page will be updated as final presentation versions are submitted.
Talk Session 1
Dusty Plasma Lab: SPARK Circuit and Frequency Testing (PDF) — Marcus Bailey
Biobot (PDF) — Erik Bryson
Engineering Outreach through Summer Programs (PDF) — Crista Campbell
Why is the Sky Dark at Night? Olbers’ Paradox and its Resolutions (PDF) — Kayleigh Gallagher
Solar-System Bodies as Tests of New Physics (PDF) — Amelia Genus
CACTUS-1: Coordinated Applied Capitol Technology University Satellite (PDF) — George Giakoumakis
Black Hole Firewalls and the Information Paradox (PDF) — Carson Goettlicher
Exotic Spacetime Topology as an Alternative to Dark Matter and Energy (PDF) — Greg Kuri
Far-Red Light Photoacclimation (FaRLiP) at the Dry Limit of Life (PDF) — Bayleigh Murray
Cosmology Large Angular Scale Surveyor — Andre Nottingham II
The Metallicity Gradient of the Ultra-faint Dwarf Galaxy Population — Karl Osterbauer
Classroom Simulation of Gravitational Waves from Orbiting Binaries (PDF) — Jon Perry
Spacecraft Flight Deck Simulator: Neutral Buoyancy Docking Simulation (PDF) — Corey Vernon
Station Observation & Locating Optimizer (PDF) — Ahmed Woodson
Talk Session 2
MDSGC Students at 231st AAS Meeting
MDSGC proudly supported presentations by several students at the 231st meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), held January 8-12, 2018, in Washington, DC.
The poster topics included using the 2017 total solar eclipse to repeat Arthur Eddington’s 1919 test of General Relativity; using Towson University’s telescope to study the resolution of Olbers’ Paradox; and using the asteroid Psyche to test the Equivalence Principle. What the projects have in common is their connection to astronomical observations and fundamental physics, a strong emphasis on hands-on student research, and their supervisor: Towson University Professor James Overduin. The three posters presented at the AAS meeting represent collaborations among Towson faculty and students and several local high school students.
The solar eclipse poster generated considerable discussion that kept its authors Keri McClelland and Kelsey Glazer busy answering questions. Professor Overduin explained its popularity: “It seems that we are one of only two or three teams who have tried to do this (replicate Eddington’s test with the 2017 eclipse) and that only one other has been able to do more than us.”
MDSGC congratulates the Towson team on their accomplishments and wishes them success in their future projects! The three student posters are reproduced below.
STEM Extravaganza at Morgan State
The Baltimore MUREP Aerospace Academy (formerly SEMAA) held its yearly STEM Extravaganza on Saturday, September 9th, at Morgan State University.
MDSGC was represented by a contingent from Johns Hopkins, along with our partners from Space Telescope Science Institute. Thanks to all our young STEM enthusiasts and parents who stopped by to pay us a visit and learn about scientific ballooning! We hope to see you again soon at one of our upcoming Observatory Open Houses.