UCF students to ride NASA's 'vomit comet'

Students selected to study, ride on specially designed NASA plane

By Michelle Dendy - Web Editor
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ORLANDO, Fla. - Six University of Central Florida students will ride in NASA's zero-gravity "vomit comet" in June as part of an experiment for the Undergraduate Student Instrumentation Program.

According to UCF, since late last year, the team of six has been hard at work turning the project from concept to design to working prototype.

The students have to meet a June deadline for their project in order to keep their slot on a specially designed plane that astronauts use to train, which is referred to as the vomit comet, because it is not for those with weak stomachs, officials said.

"We're studying collisions in space environments that can't easily be studied on earth. What we learn may be important in understanding how Saturn's rings formed," said student and team scribe Sara Lane in a release.

According to UCF, the team will study the sticking and gradual buildup of small particles onto a larger body and in microgravity to understand particle interactions in protoplanetary disks and in planetary ring systems.

The team members also include:

  • Allyson Whitaker, an aerospace engineering major in her junior year.
  • Kelly Lai, an aerospace engineering major in her senior year.
  • Christopher Tiller, a physics major in his third year.
  • Samuel Benjamin, a photonics sciences and engineering major in his junior year
  • Brad Hoover, an aerospace engineering major in his senior year.

You can follow the team's journey at http://physics.cos.ucf.edu/cate.

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