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Sounding Rocket Experiments

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Sounding Rocket Experiments

Unread postAuthor: PVC Arsenal 17 » Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:58 pm

For the past two years I've taken part in a NASA/Space Grant funded program which involves launching a suborbital sounding rocket containing student-built payloads into space.

The nature of the experimental payloads is almost completely unrestricted; groups essentially pay for the real estate on board and NASA launches the rocket. It's the third time around for my group and we're running out of ideas. This time, I figured I'd ask SF for some suggestions.

The details:
2-stage suborbital rocket (up then down, no orbit)
20g acceleration first stage, 12g second stage
Mach 4.4 top speed
72 mile peak altitude
Available access to skin-mounted air ports and windows
7lb. payload weight

In the past my group has sent up accelerometers, thermometers, gyroscopes, geiger counters, and CO2 sensors. We want to try something entirely new this time.


Current ideas:
The payload compartment temperature sits around 100F while the skin reaches around 500F during the ascent. We are considering using a thermocouple/TEG array mounted on the skin to convert this temperature difference into electricity, to be stored and measured on the payload using a supercapacitor bank/batteries and a microcontroller. That's all well and good... but too simple to constitute a full experiment.

The air ports include a ram air intake and a Bernoulli exhaust. In the past we used these to bring in outside air to measure CO2 concentration. This time, we're considering running the air through a turbine and having it spin a small permanent magnet alternator. We could get maybe 10-15 seconds of power generation while the rocket moves through the lower atmosphere. Again, quite simple.



You might have noticed based on those ideas and our past projects that the end goal of these "experiments" is essentially useless. This program is really about the experience of getting from A to B, not so much about the real-world application of any useful information discovered. For example a CO2 sensor would have been infinitely better suited to a slow-moving weather balloon than a supersonic rocket. That said, your suggestions could be silly so long as they are somewhat worthwhile and somehow take advantage of the fact that they're on a rocket headed for space.

Throw some ideas out, simple or complex, and if it's something we can do and if, in fact, we get to launch again next summer, I'd be happy to send some memoirs "into space" and mail them to you.
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Unread postAuthor: covey12 » Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:14 am

it'd be cool to see how non-newtonian fluids react in a zero g environment. UV reactive tonic waters might be cool to, im not sure how they work exactly but if you could get the uv rays to hit it directly it should glow right? I've seen those fancy glowing cocktails that work on the same principal under a blacklight i think. Lastly, maybe some ferrofluid, might act idk.
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Unread postAuthor: D_Hall » Fri Sep 14, 2012 1:58 pm

Are we dealing with a Black Brandt?

Thoughts.... Ram air turbines are readily available on the market. Even as a "silly" experiment it just seems redundant.

Hmmm....

Are you allowed to deploy anything while in exo or are you married to returning with the mothership? 'Cause if you're allowed to deploy there's a fair amount of interest these days in ballutes but there's almost zero real world data to back 'em up.

Perhaps a ballute experiment?

Totally doable, but nothing "silly" about it.
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Unread postAuthor: PVC Arsenal 17 » Fri Sep 14, 2012 10:03 pm

@covey12: It's funny you mention those ideas because they're exactly what the new team members suggested.

@D_Hall: No, Terrier-Improved Orion. And unfortunately deployable payloads are only possible in the next level program which we are not currently involved with. Everything stays in the cargo section here.
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Unread postAuthor: Insomniac » Sat Sep 15, 2012 3:21 am

This may be a completely ignorant/stupid idea (I just thought of it while answering Nature's call. :wink: )...

But how about using cyclonic separation to collect atmospheric dust? Something along the lines of a Dyson bagless vacuum cleaner, but using ram air from the atmosphere instead of a mechanical compressor? Perhaps by using adhesive pads mechanically exposed one at a time, samples could be taken from intervals of however many thousand feet.

Seems like a job suitable for a rocket as it could take an instantaneous, vertical 'snapshot' of the dust levels of the atmosphere. Of course, there may well be better, established ways to do it but it's just an idea.
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Unread postAuthor: D_Hall » Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:30 am

PVC Arsenal 17 wrote:@D_Hall: No, Terrier-Improved Orion.

They're still flying Terriers? :shock:

OK, that aside....

Yeah, i'm liking the dust idea in the above post. You could expose different pads at different times to get a profile.
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