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Chester woman involved in NASA gravity experiment

July 26, 2012
The Herald-Star

Carla Feragotti, a Chester resident, participated in the NASA Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program Competition held June 3-9 in Houston.

Only fourteen teams in the country were selected to participate.

The proposed experiment tested the effects of electrostatic forces on fluidized beds and determined whether an electric force would be able to substitute for the gravitational force.

To test this hypothesis, the six-member teams designed and built an apparatus used to test the conditions of the fluidized bed in NASA's Zero Gravity Plane at Johnson Space Center. The apparatus performed well and produced useable data for further research.

Feragotti is a 2006 graduate of Oak Glen High School and recently received her bachelor's degrees in aerospace and mechanical engineering, with a minor in communications from West Virginia University. She plans to return to WVU in the fall to earn her master's degree in mechanical engineering.

Twice a year, NASA sponsors and NASA's Johnson Space Center administers the Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program. This program provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to design and build an experiment of their choice that will be conducted in microgravity. This program encourages first-hand knowledge of the documentation necessary for an experiment, hands-on designing, building, and conducting the experiment, and outreach to academic, professional and general communities.

To be selected, the WVU Microgravity Research Team (MRT) submits a research proposal to be evaluated by a panel of judges. If selected, the team will fly aboard the microgravity aircraft, which will execute approximately 30 parabolic maneuvers over the Gulf of Mexico, with each parabola yielding approximately 25 seconds of microgravity.

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