SP-4304 SEARCHING THE HORIZON: A History of Ames Research Center, 1940-1976




CHRONOLOGY, 1977-1980



[243] This appendix is a chronology of events in the history of the Ames Research Center subsequent to the period covered in the text and is included to bring the coverage of the volume closer to the date of publication. Events have been selected because of their pertinence to themes and topics developed in the text. Some entries relating to NASA have been included because they would affect Ames in time.

Because these events are not dealt with in the text, considerably more detail is included than was the case for the previous chronology (app. E), and the source is given at the end of each item.




10 Jan.

An engineering test model of Pioneer 10, the first spacecraft to reach Jupiter, was put on display in the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Launched on 3 Mar. 1972, the Ames-managed spacecraft reached Jupiter in Dec. 1973, returning the first close-up views of the planet, which was discovered to be a spinning ball of liquid hydrogen with no perceptible surface. Returning a wealth of information about Jupiter's magnetic field, radiation belts, and weather, the spacecraft was then programmed on an escape trajectory out of the solar system. In Feb. 1976 it crossed Saturn's orbit, traveling away from the sun at a speed of 59,200 km/hr. It was expected to reach Pluto's orbit in 1987. (Ames release 77-1; Astrogram, 13 Jan. 1977)


14 Jan.

Deputy Director Clarence Syvertson was named a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Joining Ames in 1948, Syvertson did pioneering theoretical research on hypersonic aerodynamics in the early 1950s and on hypersonic vehicles in the late 1950s. He played an important role in the development of the wingless M-2, a manned lifting body that was a precursor to manned maneuverable space vehicles. Head of the Mission Analysis Division at Ames in the early 1960s, Syvertson also headed the Dept. of Transportation-NASA team that produced the Civil Aeronautics Research and Development Study, a foundation for current U.S. aviation R&D. (Ames release 77-3; Astrogram, 27 Jan. 1977)


[244] 29 Jan.

H. Julian "Harvey" Allen died of a heart attack. A major figure in modern aerospace technology, Allen came to the center as one of the original group of research personnel. He headed the Theoretical Aerodynamics Research Section from 1940 to 1945, when that section evolved into the High-Speed Aerodynamics Division. In the 1940s, Allen developed a general theory of subsonic airfoils that made it possible to calculate accurately the ideal airfoil shape for specified conditions. Low-drag airfoils, such as those used on the Mustang fighter, were much improved with Allen's general theory. His most outstanding accomplishment was the concept of bluntness to reduce the heating of spacecraft reentering the Earth's atmosphere. The discovery resulted in the blunt shapes of ICBM warheads and NASA's space capsules. When the Astronautics Directorate was created from the High-Speed Division, Allen became its first head. From Sept. 1965 to Jan. 1969, he served as Ames's second director. Throughout his years at Ames, he was a friend and mentor to a continuing succession of Ames researchers and other colleagues in the aeronautics profession. (Ames release 77-06; Director's memorandum 77-15; Astrogram, 10 Feb. 1977)


3 Feb.

Ames announced that a developmental Spacelab payload typifying payloads planned for Space Shuttle missions in the 1980s was being tested at the research center. Equipment was being readied for a final 7-day simulation of a typical Spacelab mission planned for May 1977 at Johnson Space Center. The payload consisted of 22 experiments to investigate effects of the space environment on humans, frogs, rats, mice, monkeys, and fruit flies. Functions of the heart, red-blood-cell lifetimes, bone and muscle metabolism, body temperature, hormones, and other biomedical factors were to be studied. (Ames release 77-07)


18 Feb.

The first Space Shuttle Orbiter Enterprise made its first flight atop a Boeing 747. A prototype of the Orbiter had been tested in the Ames 40- by 80-foot wind tunnel; the craft's thermal protection system was largely a product of research done at Ames. (Astrogram, 24 Feb. 1977)


2 Mar.

Ames announced that its Lear Jet equipped with a 30-cm infrared telescope would participate in an international study (Project Porcupine, directed by the Max Planck Institut fur Physik [245] und Astrophysik) to study the coupling between the magnetosphere and ionosphere. An Aries sounding rocket equipped with 11 experiments was to be launched in Sweden. At 450 km altitude, a barium shaped-charge would be ejected. Ionized by sunlight, the visible charge would travel along the Earth's magnetic lines of force, reentering the atmosphere in the Antarctic. The barium trail would be followed by the Lear Jet, equipped with instruments furnished by the University of Alaska. Its flight-path would allow continuous optical coverage of the barium trail against a star background for the first 1,000 seconds after release. The project was to be completed by the end of March. (Ames release 77-14)


3 Mar.

The Ames C-141 Kuiper Airborne Observatory left on its first international expedition. From bases in Australia, the C-141 was to observe the planet Uranus during unique astronomical conditions. On 10-11 Mar. Uranus would move between Earth and a star. The resulting occultation, or blacking out, of starlight would enable the international team of scientists to learn more about Uranus's atmosphere, composition, shape, and size. Investigators included researchers from American and Australian universities. (Ames release 77-13)


10 Mar.

Scientists aboard the Kuiper Airborne Observatory discovered that Uranus possesses equatorial rings, which are apparently composed of rock and ice. Tracking Uranus as it passed in front of a star in the constellation Libra, the telescope lost sight of the star for periods of about 8 seconds at 10 different times.

"I think we were looking through a very faint ring system similar to the rings of Saturn," said the leader of the investigation team. "The fact that there were 5 blackouts on either side of the planet suggests rings and not moons, since moons would have been placed around the planet in a more random way." One theory was that the rings are composed of material present during the formation of the solar system that never coalesced into moons; another was that the rings are remnants of a disintegrated moon or moons. (Ames release 77-17; Astrogram, 24 Mar. 1977)


14 Mar.

Director Hans Mark announced organizational changes to accommodate Ames's new role as lead center in helicopter research and technology. Created within the Aeronautics and Flight Systems Directorate were the Helicopter Systems Office, [246] responsible for integrating the various activities in helicopter systems technology; the Helicopter Technology Division, serving as the focal point for helicopter technology development within NASA; and the V/STOL Aircraft Technology Division, restructured from the Research Aircraft Projects Office. The organizational changes reflected the NASA decision of last summer to establish Ames as the lead center for NASA's helicopter activities. By specifying a lead center, NASA hoped to increase research output and to reduce costs. Langley Research Center and Lewis Research Center were to continue to be responsible for key segments of the helicopter activities. Ames would conduct helicopter research using its unique aeronautical facilities: its 40- by 80-foot wind tunnel and flight simulation facilities. Ames would also conduct flight tests with research rotorcraft such as the Tilt Rotor Research Aircraft and Rotor Systems Research Aircraft. Over the next three years 72 positions were to be added to the Ames staff. While Langley's activity in helicopters would be phased down, that center's expected growth in long-haul aircraft technology should minimize any impact on manpower and the local economy. (Ames release 77 - 19) Director's memorandum 77-20)


24 Mar.

The international Infrared Astronomy Satellite (IRAS) Project was approved. IRAS was a cooperative U.S.-Netherlands-U.K. project whose purpose was an infrared survey of the entire celestial sphere. The satellite would consist of a spacecraft to be built by the Netherlands and a large infrared telescope to be built by the U.S. Ames was responsible for the IRAS telescope system, while the overall management of the U.S. part of the project was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Telescope System Project Office was contained within the Space Projects Division of the Astronautics Directorate. (Astrogram, 24 Mar. 1977)


14 Apr. NASA awarded two $350,000 contracts to the McDonnell Douglas Corp. and the team of Hughes Aircraft and General Electric for design studies of a vehicle to plunge into Jupiter's atmosphere. The Jupiter Orbiter with Probe mission, requested in NASA's FY 1978 budget, would offer the first opportunity to make in situ as well as remote measurements of the planet, its environment, and its satellites. Ames was to manage the probe system. (Ames release 77-20)


[247] 16 May

Galileo II, Ames's Convair 990 flying laboratory, under the joint management of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), began a 10-day simulation of a Spacelab mission. A mission specialist and two payload specialists each from NASA and ESA would participate. Spacelab, a major element in the Space Shuttle System, would be located in the cargo bay of the Orbiter and carry facilities and equipment similar to laboratories on the ground. Objectives of the simulation included evaluation of management of payload and mission operations to develop low-cost concepts for Spacelab, studies of interactions between Spacelab personnel and principal investigators on the ground, and the development of minimum training requirements. Another prime concern was to involve the ESA and NASA Spacelab managers in the same roles they would have during an actual Spacelab flight. Galileo II was to make six-hour flights on each day of the simulation, and the payload and mission specialists would remain confined throughout the 10-day period to work on the experiment payload and sleep in adjacent living quarters. (Ames release 77-21)


19 May

A critical segment of the Pioneer-Venus mission was successfully tested by dropping the entry probe from an Air Force balloon 27 km above White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. The test duplicated events just before descent into the planet's dense, hot lower atmosphere, demonstrating deployment of the probe parachute, separation of its heat shield, and separation of the parachute for the final phase of flight down to the surface. The objective of the mission would be to characterize Venus's atmosphere and weather. (Ames release 77-30; Astrogram, 16 June 1977)


27 May

Ames Director Hans Mark, nominated for the post of undersecretary of the Air Force, announced that Dep. Dir. Clarence Syvertson was acting director until further notice. Mark was to take up his new post in August. (Director's memorandum 77-66)


10 June

President Carter nominated Dr. Robert A. Frosch to become NASA administrator, succeeding Dr. James C. Fletcher, who resigned 1 May. Frosch was associate director for applied oceanography at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. (Astrogram, 16 June 1977)


[248] 5 July

The new visitor-reception building opened. (Director's memorandum 77-80)


19 July

Congress approved $17.7 million for the Jupiter Orbiter and Probe mission in FY 1978. The joint JPL-Ames project was to be the first NASA planetary project undertaken by the Office of Space Science since initiation of the Ames Pioneer-Venus Project in 1972. (Astrogram, 28 July 1977)



Two Ames research aircraft, a U-2 and a LearJet, were based in the Panama Canal Zone for three weeks conducting studies of atmospheric pollution. Several governmental agencies and universities cooperated in the study, gathering information on how atmospheric pollutants such as halocarbons are carried from low altitudes into the stratosphere, where they may influence the ozone balance. The study, sponsored and planned by Ames, was carried out over a 16-day period with both aircraft making daily flights. Heavily instrumented with sensing and sampling equipment, the aircraft measured atmospheric pollutants at multiple altitudes. The LearJet covered altitudes up to 14,000 m, while the U-2 carried the coverage well into the stratosphere at altitudes of 21,300 m. (Astrogram, 8 Sept. 1977)


30 Aug.

The name of the U.S. Army Air Mobility Research and Development Laboratory was changed to the U.S. Army Research and Technology Laboratories, the directorate at Ames becoming the Aeromechanics Laboratory. The mission of the laboratories remained the same: to plan, develop, manage, and execute R&D programs to provide a firm technical base for superior airmobile systems. Major projects include: (1) The XV-15 Tilt Rotor Research Aircraft, now being flight tested. The aircraft incorporates wingtip-mounted engines, transmissions, and 7.6-m propellers that tilt from a helicopter position for takeoffs, landings, and hovering, to a horizontal position for forward flight. (2) The XH-59A Advancing Blade Concept (ABC), a coaxial, hingeless rotor research helicopter that features stiff, counterrotating rotor blades rigidly attached to the hubs. The ABC uses only its rotor blade system throughout its entire speed range; no tail rotor is required. (3) The Rotor Systems Research Aircraft, a test vehicle used by the Army and NASA to evaluate a wide variety of existing and future systems. (Astrogram, 6 Oct. 1977)


[249] 7 Sept.

NASA Headquarters announced civil service manpower adjustments. In spite of overall reductions of 500 positions, Ames was to gain 45 positions for FY 1978. This was a result of the acceleration of the helicopter transfer from Langley Research Center to Ames. (NASA Hq. announcement, 7 Sept. 1977)


14 Sept.

The Space Projects Division was to be reorganized to accommodate its recently assigned responsibility for managing major portions of the infrared telescope for the IRAS project and the atmospheric entry probe of the Jupiter Orbiter Probe mission. Subsequently, the division would consist of the Division Office, the Project Technology Branch, the Jupiter Probe Project Office, and the IRAS Telescope Project Office. The Project Development Branch was abolished. (Director's memorandum 77-124)


12 Oct.

Ames was awarded the Columbus Gold Medal by the city of Genoa, Italy, for the two multibillion-mile Pioneer flights. Acting Director Clarence Syvertson accepted the medal in Italy. (Astrogram, 20 Oct. 1977)


14 Oct.

A team of Ames researchers made what may become a major break-through in explaining the origin of life. "Building blocks of life" apparently were collected and organized on the shores of the primordial oceans by "natural catalysts" found widely on Earth. This could be a step in the chemical evolution of the first living organisms. The experiments demonstrated how two basic types of organic molecules (amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, and nucleotides, the building blocks of the DNA molecule) may have been concentrated in the primitive oceans. The work also seemed to show how life-related amino acids were linked together into the chain needed to make living cells, while other amino acids were selectively destroyed. Team leader for the work was Ames's Dr. James Lawless. Also participating was Dr. Nissim Levi, a National Research Council Fellow from Israel, working at Ames. (Ames release 77-43; Astrogram, 20 Oct. 1977)


25 Oct.

NASA Hq. announced a reorganization to be effective 8 Nov. The major change affecting Ames was that the center director would report directly to the Administrator. (Director's memorandum 77-144)


[250] 25 Oct.

Galileo II, Ames's Convair 990 research aircraft, surveyed archaeological sites in Guatemala in an effort to learn more about the Mayan civilization that flourished there centuries ago. Three different types of radar were used to penetrate the dense tropical foliage to different depths, allowing identification of features not readily distinguishable by other means. Signs of roads, stone walls, agricultural terraces, and other man-made structures were sought. The aircraft also carried a scanning infrared sensor to detect differences in vegetation, seeking clues to the extent and type of farming done by the Mayans. The flight was a cooperative effort among Ames, JPL, and researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio. (Astrogram, 17 Nov. 1977)


17 Nov.

Ames announced that measurements made by researchers using a U-2 aircraft suggested that the cosmos may have started serenely, with a powerful but tightly controlled and completely uniform expansion. Using ultrasensitive radio equipment, the research team measured the cosmic microwave background - the radiation left over from the Big Bang, the initial, universe-forming event -and concluded that that event was a smooth process, with matter and energy uniformly distributed and expanding at an equal rate in all directions. Researchers from the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley declared, "The big bang, the most cataclysmic event we can imagine, on closer inspection appears finely orchestrated." (Ames release 77-45; Astrogram, 1 Dec. 1977)




[251] Jan.

Ames announced the formation of the Stanford-NASA Joint Institute for Surface and Microstructural Research. Manpower and advanced laboratory equipment would be shared by Ames's Materials and Physical Sciences Branch and Stanford's departments of materials science, chemical engineering and electrical engineering. The agreement formalized and expanded a collaboration that had existed since 1968. Research would continue at both locations, and some Ames equipment was to be transferred to Stanford. (Astrogram, 26 Jan. 1978)



The Jupiter Orbiter and Probe mission, scheduled for 1982, was formally designated Project Galileo. Scheduled to become the first planetary spacecraft to be carried aboard the Space Shuttle, Galileo was to conduct the most detailed scientific investigation yet of Jupiter and its environment. Ames had project responsibility for the entry probe. (Astrogram, 9 Feb. 1978)


24 Feb.

To facilitate the transfer of NASA technology to other potential users, organizational changes were made in the Airborne Missions and Applications Division. The User Applications Branch was renamed the Technology Applications Branch, and the Western Regional Applications Office was established. The new office extended the concept of user-driven transfer of Landsat technology to agencies in 14 western states, including Alaska and Hawaii. (Director's memorandum 79-25)



The first XV-15 Tilt Rotor Research Aircraft arrived at Ames. Two aircraft were built under a joint program for Ames and the U.S. Army's Research and Technology Laboratories by Bell Helicopter Textron, Fort Worth, Texas. The aircraft now at Ames had been modified for remote control operation and was to be tested for six weeks in the 40- by 80-foot wind tunnel. Flight testing of the second aircraft would then follow in Texas. Both aircraft would eventually be based at Ames for comprehensive evaluation of the tilt rotor concept, to provide data for terminal area navigation, and to support vertical and short takeoff and landing programs. (Astrogram, 6 Apr. 1978)


29 Mar.

A project office was established to modify the 40- by 80-foot wind tunnel. Over the past four years, plans had been drawn to increase the speed of the tunnel to 550 km/hr and to add an 80- by 120-foot test section. The first funding of $19.5 million was received. With growth in size of the project team imminent, a project office to manage the many activities became necessary. Charles A. Hermach was appointed project manager. (Director's memorandum 78-27)


10 Apr.

The Army-NASA-Sikorsky Rotor Systems Research Aircraft (RSRA) made its first flight as a compound helicopter-fixed wing aircraft, taking off from a Wallops Island runway and climbing to 460 m, using both wings and rotor systems for lift. Under contract to NASA and the U.S. Army Research and Technology Laboratories, Sikorsky built two prototypes that were to be tested in 1978. The RSRA had a 14-m wingspan and a five-blade S-61 rotor system powered by two T-58 turboshaft [252] engines. Two auxiliary TF34 turbofan engines were mounted below the rotor system. (Astrogram, 10 Aug. 1978)


30 Apr.

Clarence A. Syvertson, acting director since the resignation of Dr. Hans Mark in August 1977, was named director of the center. Syvertson had been at Ames since 1948, beginning as a research scientist and assistant branch chief. He became chief of the 3.5-Foot Hypersonic Wind Tunnel Branch in 1959, and in 1963 director of the Mission Analysis Division, doing advanced planning for all of NASA. In 1966 he was appointed director of astronautics, and in 1969 deputy director of Ames. He also served as executive director of the Joint DOT-NASA Civil Aviation Research and Development Policy Study to identify future directions for civil aviation development. His work in hypersonic aerodynamics helped to produce the series of prototype lifting bodies that culminated in the M-2. (Ames release 78-16; Palo Alto Times, 27 Apr. 1978)


20 May

Pioneer- Venus 1, the orbiter, was launched from Kennedy Space Center. The spacecraft was expected to reach Venus in early December, going into an eccentric 24-hr orbit around the planet. The orbiter carried 11 scientific experiments designed to return data about Venus, plus 1 to help pinpoint the sources of gamma-ray bursts from space. The orbiter's S-band telemetry system and X-band beacon would be used for 6 radio-science experiments. Pioneer- Venus 2, the probe, with missions complementary to those of the orbiter, was to be launched in early August. The two vehicles were to converge near the planet in early December. (Astrogram, 1 June 1978; Aviation Week and Space Technology, 27 Feb. 1978)


1 June

Pioneer Venus 1 was on course toward its orbit around Venus, with most engineering systems checked out and operating normally. Controllers at Ames deployed the craft's 4.3-m magnetometer boom and "despun" the high-data-rate, 1.2-m- diameter dish antenna to center it continuously on Earth. They took pictures of Earth, turned on five of the six interplanetary experiments, made a star map, and checked out power, navigation, and propulsion systems. Pioneer- Venus 1 measured Earth's protective magnetic envelope, the magnetosphere, as it passed beyond it, as well as charting the solar wind. The next was a first midcourse correction. Launch trajectory was so accurate that a second correction might not be needed. (Astrogram, 1 June 1978)


[253] 15 June

Pioneer-Venus 1, on the first leg of its journey toward Venus, detected an extremely powerful burst of gamma rays from somewhere in the universe. Unknown until 1973, gamma-ray bursts have enormous energies and occur about once a month, seemingly from random points in our galaxy or beyond. The spacecraft carried six interplanetary instruments, including a gamma-ray-burst detector, which sensed a two-second pulse of these very high-energy photons just 33 hours after lift-off and 585,000 km from Earth. (Astrogram, 15 June 1978)


Also in June

Researchers working at Ames apparently discovered a way to account for the formation on Earth four billion years ago of nucleic acids, one of the two most essential components of life. The discovery supplemented earlier work in which the same investigators discovered a mechanism to explain the other critical component of life, protein (see 14 Oct. 1977, above). Their new discovery involved metal clays that would have been common on the shores of primitive bodies of water. When low-concentration solutions of DNA-forming nucleotides are mixed with commonplace metal clays, most clays attract the nucleotides. Furthermore, a clay containing zinc preferentially attracts all six of them. The team consisted of Dr. James Lawless of Ames; Dr. Edward Edelson, a National Research Council Associate; and Lewis Manring, a student at the University of Santa Clara. (Astrogram, 29 June 1978)


6 July

The Quiet Short-Haul Research Aircraft (QSRA), built by Boeing under contract to NASA, made its maiden flight in Seattle. The QSRA was a rebuilt de Havilland C-8A Buffalo. With a new wing, tail, and avionics, and four overwing jet engines to provide "upper surface blowing" for high lift, the QSRA was built to develop the technology for future commercial airliners with short take-off and landing capabilities. Ames pilot Jim Martin noted that the aircraft's behavior had been accurately predicted by preflight simulation studies. "I didn't see any surprises. The QSRA simulation at Ames was one of the most accurate simulations I've flown." After more flight testing at Boeing, the aircraft was to be flown to Ames for two years of additional tests. (Astrogram, 27 July 1978; The Boeing News, 13 July 1978)


17 July

The Life Sciences Directorate was reorganized. The Extraterrestrial Biology Division was renamed the Extraterrestrial Research [254] Division, to reflect an expanded role in the development of advanced life-support systems for future space missions. The Advanced Life Support Project Office became the Advanced Life Support Office, with added functions of conducting research into biologically based life support techniques. (Director's memorandum 78-94)


17 July

Ames acquired approximately five acres of land from the Pacific Gas and Electric Company in exchange for an equal parcel of NASA property. The exchange, necessary to accommodate the modifications being made to the 40- by 80-foot wind tunnel, was effected through the General Services Administration. Another parcel was made available to NASA by the Navy through an agreement with the Naval Facilities Engineering Command of San Bruno. (Astrogram, 10 Aug. 1978)


3 Aug.

With initial flight testing completed at Boeing Field, the new QSRA was flown to Ames for additional testing before beginning a research program for a short-haul transportation system. High performance of the aircraft was due to the upper-surface-blowing propulsive-lift concept, in which four jet engines were mounted on top of the wing so fan air was directed across the upper surface of the wing and flaps. This significantly increased lift, particularly at lower speeds. In addition, compressed air from the engines was fed through an ejector system to provide boundary layer control blowing at the wing leading edges and ailerons, further enhancing lift and control. Project officials believed the technology could have important ramifications. A QSRA-type aircraft the size of a Boeing 727 transport could carry the same payload at the same speeds as the 727, but could operate from small airports so quietly that it would not be heard in the surrounding community. (Ames release 78-37; Astrogram, 24 Aug. 1978)


8 Aug.

Pioneer- Venus 2 was launched from Kennedy Space Center. The spacecraft was to reach Venus in conjunction with Pioneer-Venus 1, an orbiter, in early December. In mid-November Pioneer- Venus 2 would split into five atmospheric entry craft- four probes and a transporter bus. On 9 Dec., the four probes would begin descent through the planet's dense atmosphere. The transporter bus would burn up in the planet's dense atmosphere, after measuring the composition of the upper atmosphere. (Ames release 78-40; Astrogram, 24 Aug. 1978)


[255] 17 Aug.

Mission controllers completed a critical course change for Pioneer-Venus 2, putting it right on target for encounter with Venus on 9 Dec. 1978. A series of carefully timed rocket thrusts increased the spacecraft's speed by 2.25 m/sec (Ames release 78-40; Astrogram, 24 Aug. 1978)


21 Sept.

Final course adjustments for Pioneer ll's encounter with Saturn on 1 Sept. 1979 were made by mission controllers at Ames. Its trajectory would bring it to within 30,000 km of Saturn's outer ring. The spacecraft would then swing under the plane of the rings to 25,000 km from the planet's surface. "We're going as close as we dare," said Jack Dyer, chief of mission analysis at Ames. Getting any closer to the ring would risk impact with orbiting fragments. Pioneer 11 would take the first close-up color pictures of Saturn and its rings and make other first-time measurements of the planet's magnetic field, atmosphere, and other features. (Astrogram, 21 Sept. 1978)


25 Sept.

The Life Sciences Experiments Project Office was established within the Biosystems Division of the Life Sciences Directorate. Beginning in 1982, Spacelab missions entirely devoted to life sciences were to be flown under the management of program offices at Headquarters and Johnson Space Center. Project management responsibilities for experiments not involving humans as test subjects were assigned to the new Ames office. (Director's memorandum 78-117)


25 Sept.

Beginning in FY 1979, NASA would provide funds to each center director for new programs not included in the center's budget. The purpose of the Center Director's Discretionary Fund was to stimulate innovative ideas in R&D. The new programs would not be subject to Headquarters approval, though progress was to be reported yearly. No program was to be funded from this source for more than three years; after that time it should be complete or would have to compete for funding in the regular budget. (Director's memorandum 78-145)


26 Sept.

R. T. Jones was awarded the Prandtl Ring Award by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Luft- und Raumfahrt in Darmstadt, Germany. Considered the highest honor in the field of fluid dynamics, the award was presented for Jones's "outstanding contributions in the field of aerodynamics." Over almost 50 years of research, he was responsible for some of the most [256] far-reaching discoveries made in the field. Most of Jones's work involved the application of abstract mathematics, learned as he went along, to practical flight problems. In the early 1930s, he gained most of his formal education from Max Munk, considered one of the country's most brilliant theorists. In 1934, Jones went to work at Langley Aeronautical Laboratory and remained there until 1946, when he moved to Ames. Jones is most noted for developing the theory of sweepback in this country, the method by which smooth flight at high speeds is made possible. Met with skepticism when Jones first presented the idea in 1944, the sweptback wing became conventional. Not limited to work in aerodynamics, in 1963 Jones left Ames to join Avco Everett Research Laboratory, where he worked on cardiac assist devices and problems of blood flow. He rejoined Ames as a staff scientist in 1970. (Astrogram, 8 Apr. 1976, 30 Nov. 1978)


1 Oct.

The Applied Computational Aerodynamics Branch was created within the Thermo- and Gas-Dynamics Division of the Astronautics Directorate. The new branch was to develop user-oriented computer codes for solving practical problems in aerodynamic design. The intent was to bridge the gap between the more basic work in computational technology being done by the Computational Fluid Dynamics Branch and the design codes required by the aerospace industry. (Director's memorandum 78- 146)


9 Oct.

Ames announced that the two Pioneer-Venus spacecraft had passed major operational tests. On Pioneer-Venus 2, timing and separation systems had been tested for the split-second release of three probes to spread them over Venus's Earth-facing hemisphere 9600 km apart. On Pioneer-Venus 1, systems for the essential retrofire and injection-into-orbit maneuver, which takes place behind the planet and out of communication with Earth, had been operated. The spacecraft was to be put into orbit on 4 Dec.; Pioneer-Venus 2 would enter the atmosphere on 9 Dec. (Ames release 78-48; Astrogram, 19 Oct. 1978)


2 Nov.

A brief ceremony marked the start of construction of the 80- by 120-foot wind tunnel. Former Center Director Smith J. De France was present, as was Russell G. Robinson, former director of aeronautics and flight systems, who broke ground for the first construction at Ames in Dec. 1939. The new [257] addition to the 40- by 80-foot wind tunnel would result in the largest facility of its kind in the world. (Director's memorandum 78-156)


19 Nov.

Final course and attitude corrections were made in the flight of Pioneer-Venus 2 earlier in the month. The small probes were released on 19 Nov., and final descent was to occur 9 Dec. (Astrogram, 14 Dec. 1978)


4 Dec.

Pioneer- Venus 1 was inserted into orbit around Venus and began radar-mapping Venus's surface. The mapper took one radar scan of the planet each Earth day and would map a belt completely around Venus in 243 days, during which Venus rotates once on its axis. (Astrogram, 14 Dec. 1978)


9 Dec.

The four probes of Pioneer- Venus 2 descended to the surface of the planet, transmitting data as they descended. Unexpectedly, the day probe survived the landing impact and continued to transmit data for 67 minutes. (Astrogram, 14 Dec. 1978)


14 Dec.

Ames held a public briefing on the early scientific results of the first phase of the Pioneer-Venus mission. Experimenters revealed that the inert gas argon was found by both orbiter and probe instruments. The unexpected presence of the isotope Argon 36, relatively rare on Earth and Mars, might lead to a total revision of planet-formation theories. The findings could indicate that Venus was formed from very different materials than were Earth and Mars. Data from the four probes indicated that the cloud layer that enshrouds the planet disappears at about 55 km altitude. An immaculately clean atmosphere was found below that level, but the atmosphere was so dense that visibility would be very limited. At 27 km altitude, the large probe's gas chromatograph identified seven substances: neon, nitrogen, oxygen, argon, water, sulphur dioxide, and carbon dioxide. The presence of 97% carbon dioxide and 0.1% water vapor supported the theory that Venus's intense heat results from a greenhouse effect trapping heat from the sun. (Astrogram, 14 Dec. 1978)




1 Jan.

John W. Boyd, deputy director of aeronautics and flight systems, was named deputy director of Dryden Flight Research [258] Center. At Ames since 1947, Boyd had been involved in a variety of research fields. He played an important role in developing and verifying the concept of conical camber for subsonic and supersonic aircraft, theoretical verification of canards as control surfaces for aircraft, experimental verification of the relations between vehicle shapes and problems of entry into planetary atmospheres, and management of aeronautical programs for VTOL and rotorcraft technology studies. (Director's memorandum 78-159; Astrogram, 16 Nov. 1978)


19 Jan.

The Pioneer Project Office was reorganized to manage the remaining seven active Pioneer spacecraft. A major responsibility was planning and executing Pioneer ll's flyby past Saturn in Sept. 1979. The Experiment Systems Branch, Mission Operations Systems Branch, and Spacecraft Systems Branch were abolished, with their remaining functions vested in the Pioneer Project Office. (Director's memorandum 79-15)


1 Feb.

A. Thomas Young became deputy director of Ames. Young was formerly director of the Planetary Program in the Office of Space Science at NASA Headquarters. (Director's memorandum 78-167; Astrogram, 16 Nov. 1978)


13 Feb.

A Small Transport Aircraft Technology Project Team was established at Ames to plan, advocate, and implement an advanced technology project for small transport aircraft. Until recently air service to small communities and on low-density routes was severely constrained by the economic burdens of existing regulations. Deregulation created a rapid growth in this type of service and a strong demand for modern aircraft. The team was created to fill this need. (Director's memorandum 79-30)


Also in Feb.

Major findings from Pioneer- Venus 1 and 2 included the following: (1) The planet's searing- atmosphere and surface heat seemed quite certainly to be due to a runaway greenhouse effect. (2) Venus's clouds were in three well defined and distinct layers, and seemed to result from vigorous sulfur-hydrogen-oxygen reactions. (3) Data from the orbiter's first radar map suggested that Venus's topography could be similar to Earth's, with high mountain-like features and extensive areas of relative flatness. The dayside probe found fine dust on the surface at its landing site in the southern hemisphere. (4) Starting at 13 km altitude, the two nightside probes detected a glow [259] that increased as the probes descended. Mass spectrometer evidence for various sulfur compounds near the surface suggested that the mysterious glow could come from chemical fires on the surface or in the very hot and dense lower atmosphere near the surface. (5) The solar wind was interacting with the Venusian atmosphere several times more strongly than expected. (6) The spacecraft had so far identified 10 chemical constituents of the atmosphere and 10 ions in the ionosphere of Venus. (Astrogram, 22 Feb. 1979)



From 22 Feb. to 9 Mar., one of Ames's U-2 high-altitude research aircraft flew several astronomy missions over Peru. The payload was an upward-looking differential microwave radiometer for measuring the sky's background microwave radiation at extremely low temperatures. The measurements obtained were to be used to determine the movement and speed of Earth and our galaxy, the Milky Way, with respect to far distant bodies of the universe. Similar measurements made by the same aircraft in 1976-1977 supported the theory that the Milky Way and Earth are traveling through space at 1.6 billion km/hr. The mission, though accomplished successfully, was not without traumatic moments. Engine trouble with supporting C-130 aircraft, temporarily lost equipment, and the highjacking of the aircraft on which the crew traveled to Peru made the mission a close-run thing. On the return flight, the U-2 was granted an emergency waiver to fly without rescue support aircraft because of more trouble with the second C-130 pressed into service. (Astrogram, 22 Mar., 5 Apr. 1979)


30 Mar.

The Pioneer-Venus Team and Project Manager Charles Hall were honored by the National Space Club for outstanding contributions to space science. The Nelson P. Jackson Award, given to the year's most outstanding contributor in the missile, aircraft, and space fields, was given jointly to the NASA Ames Research Center for management of Pioneer-Venus and to Hughes Aircraft Company, which built both spacecraft. Hall, who had managed the Pioneer Projects since their inception in 1962, was awarded the Annual Astronautics Engineer Award. (Ames release 79-13; Astrogram, 5 Apr. 1979)


Also in Mar.

One of the two Rotor Systems Research Aircraft (RSRA) was delivered to Ames from Wallops Island after initial flight testing there. The RSRA could be configured to fly as a helicopter or [260] with fixed wings and auxiliary jet engines. It could also be fitted with a variety of experimental and developmental rotor systems for research purposes. The RSRA joined the growing body of short-haul research aircraft based at Ames, including the X-14 jet-powered VTOL aircraft, the Augmentor Wing Jet STOL Aircraft, the Tilt-Rotor Research Aircraft, and the Quiet Short-Haul Research Aircraft. (Astrogram, 8 Mar. 1979)


13 Apr.

NASA and Soviet life scientists were to cooperate in studying physiological changes in humans resulting from simulated weightlessness. Objectives of the joint study were to improve bedrest test procedures, to standardize physiological measurements and analysis techniques performed on astronauts and cosmonauts, and to reduce test duplication and increase the flow of information between the two groups. Dr. Harold Sandler of Ames was project scientist and Dr. Carter Alexander of JSC was project manager. A five-week study was to be conducted at the Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow, beginning in mid-May; a second would follow at Ames in mid-July. (Ames release 79-17; Astrogram, 3 May 1979)


23 Apr.

The Numerical Aerodynamic Simulation Facility Project Office was established at Ames to pursue the design of a significant advancement in computational capability as part of the NASA FY 1980 program. Ames had previously carried out studies to assess the feasibility of a facility capable of one billion floating point operations per second. On the basis of positive results from those feasibility studies, Ames's proposal to continue work in this field was accepted by NASA Headquarters. (Director's memorandum 79-73


2 May

The Convair 990 research aircraft, Galileo II, was to participate in a summer-long international study of the summer monsoon, which annually brings torrential rains to the Asian subcontinent. MONEX (monsoon experiment) was to explore the origin of the monsoon winds in order to improve short-range prediction and understanding of the monsoon's role in global weather patterns. Galileo II would operate from bases in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the region, in coordination with several other aircraft, ships, and a variety of ground-based facilities. The mission was part of a large-scale atmospheric research program being conducted by the World Meteorological Organization of the United Nations. (Ames release 79-18, Astrogram, 31 May 1979)


[261] 7 May

The infrared instrument aboard the Pioneer-Venus orbiter had been returning downgraded data since 14 Feb. Efforts to correct the problem did not succeed, although the instrument functioned successfully long enough to make a thorough infrared survey of Venus. The regulated voltages that powered the instrument were registering 6 to 7 volts instead of the required 10. (Ames release 79-19)


4 June

The Material Science and Applications Office was established within the Thermo- and Gas-Dynamics Division of the Astronautics Directorate. The office would conduct research on the fatigue and fracture mechanics of metal and composite materials subjected to corrosion, while developing accelerated lifetesting techniques for such materials. (Director's memorandum 79-95)


11 July

Pioneer 10 crossed the orbit of Uranus. The seventh planet out, Uranus is 2.9 billion km from the Sun and about 2.7 billion km from Earth. Launched on 3 Mar. 1972 for the first flight beyond Mars and through the asteroid belt, Pioneer 10 dispelled theories about an asteroid barrier to outer planet exploration. Mission planners used Jupiter's gravity to hurl the spacecraft on an escape trajectory out of the solar system. The spacecraft would next head for Neptune, and then on to the expected limit of radio communications after crossing Pluto's orbit in 1987. (Astrogram, 14 June 1979)


15 July

The Tilt Rotor Research Aircraft Project Office was abolished, and the Tilt Rotor Aircraft Office was established. The new office would be responsible for all tilt rotor technology development and demonstration programs, including completion of the XV-15 research aircraft, proof-of-concept flight demonstration and concept evaluation, management of advanced flight experiments, and conduct of the Tilt Rotor Systems Technology Program. David Few was appointed manager of the new office. (Director's memorandum, 30 July 1979)


19 July

Two Soviet medical doctors arrived at Ames to participate in the second phase of the space-medicine study that began in May in Moscow. They were the project manager for the Soviet phase of the study, Valeriy Mikhailov, and one of the principal researchers, Anatole Grigoriev. Previously, Dr. Harold Sandler of Ames and Dr. Carter Alexander of Johnson traveled [262] to the Soviet Union for the first phase of the study. (Ames release 79-27; Astrogram, 28 June 1979)


24 July

The Tilt Rotor Research Aircraft, one of Ames's new acquisitions, demonstrated in-flight conversion from the helicopter mode to the airplane mode. The flight was made in Texas at Bell Helicopter's Flight Research Center. Bell designed and built the airplane under a joint research program for Ames and the U.S. Army's Research and Technology Laboratories. This is the second tilt rotor aircraft built for the project; the first was flight tested in 1977 and then shipped to Ames for wind-tunnel testing to define the initial flight envelope for flight tests with the second aircraft. (Astrogram, 9 Aug. 1979)


1 Aug.

The Helicopter-VTOL Human Factors Office was established within the Man-Vehicle Systems Research Division to study pilot-system performance problems, particularly those dealing with the transfer of information. The office was staffed by both NASA and Army Aeromechanics Laboratory research personnel. (Director's memorandum 79-100)


22 Aug.

A CH-47B Chinook, the Army's medium-lift helicopter, arrived at Ames from Langley. This modified version had one set of conventional flight controls on the left side and a fly-by-wire, variable-stability control system on the right. A research console was mounted in the cargo compartment for in-flight changes in flight-control response. For the next several months the Chinook was to be used to study sideslip performance. (Astrogram, 20 Sept. 1979)


Also in Aug.

Pioneer 11 was reoriented to keep the spin axis and antenna pointed toward Earth as it hurtled toward Saturn. With the spacecraft 945 million miles from Earth, controllers at Ames fired two one-second burns of Pioneer's two thrusters, moving the spacecraft 1.1 degree to the left. The spacecraft would soon be maneuvered again to allow the ultraviolet instrument to begin measuring Saturn. Pioneer 11 had begun to experience the tremendous gravity of Saturn. The planet would pull the spacecraft toward it with increasing speed until at closest approach on 1 Sept., Pioneer would speed past Saturn at 125,000 km/hr. Pioneer 11 had returned 10 pictures of the planet; as the spacecraft moved closer to the planet, the images would grow larger and clearer, and by 30 Aug., the images should be twice as good as Earth-based photos. (Astrogram, 23 Aug. 1979)


[263] 1 Sept.

Pioneer's encounter with Saturn was completed exactly as anticipated. Traveling at 85,000 km/hr, the spacecraft passed through the ring plane in less than a second. The crossing was dangerous because any impact with debris could have destroyed the spacecraft. One minute after its closest approach, Pioneer disappeared behind Saturn for over an hour, out of radio contact with Earth. After the spacecraft's reappearance, it made another shallow-angle, hazardous ring-plane crossing on its outward journey on the afternoon of 1 Sept. The spacecraft then headed out of the solar system, traveling roughly in the same direction as the solar system is moving through the galaxy. (Director's memorandum 79-161; Astrogram, 6 Sept. 1979)


25 Sept.

An unmanned Cosmos biosatellite containing experiments from the USSR, the United States, and other countries was launched in the Soviet Union. Over 40 American scientists from 18 universities and research institutes were involved in the 14 U.S. experiments managed by the Cosmos Project within Ames's Life Sciences Directorate. The major part of the payload consisted of 38 white rats and 60 fertile Japanese quail eggs. They would be in orbit for about three weeks; upon return, data would be shared with other participating countries. The studies were to determine the effects of weightlessness on various physiological processes. This was the first mission by any country to attempt a mammalian breeding experiment. (Astrogram, 6 Sept. 1979)


25 Sept.

John Dusterberry was appointed systems integration manager of the 40- by 80-foot wind tunnel modification project. (Director's memorandum 79-157)


Also in Sept.

After a series of workshops at Ames chaired by Dr. Philip Morrison of MIT, scientists recommended an organized program to Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Accordingly, a SETI Project Development Office was formed at Ames. The staff was composed of scientists from Ames and JPL; the project manager was John Billingham of Ames. (Astrogram, 20 Sept. 1979)


4 Oct.

Director Clarence Syvertson announced changes in the program planning and review process at Ames. Twice a year organizational directors would present their program plans in five consecutive meetings; each meeting was to be devoted to one directorate. In addition, each Monday morning Syvertson would [264] review one division's activities. Each division would therefore be reviewed twice a year. (Director's memorandum 79-173)


10 Oct.

The Pioneer Project Office was to be gradually phased out over the next three months. The Pioneer-Saturn mission and the Pioneer-Venus missions had been completed, and no future Pioneer projects were planned. A new Space Missions Branch in the Space Projects Division took control of the seven operational Pioneer spacecraft. (Director's memorandum 79-178)


17 Oct.

A two-day conference sponsored by the Western Regional Applications Program at Ames met to discuss progress in applying Landsat technology to natural-resource management. The Regional Remote Sensing Conference included over 300 representatives of state and federal agencies, universities, national associations, and private industry. Goddard Space Flight Center and the Earth Resources Laboratory cooperated with Ames in the national test to see if the satellite system could provide more immediate and economical resource information than conventional methods of data collection. (Ames release 79-40; Astrogram, 18 Oct. 1979)


24 Oct.

Ames announced further findings from Pioneer ll's encounter with Saturn on 1 Sept.: (1) Saturn has an 11th moon, dis- covered in a photo of the outer edge of Saturn's rings and by instrumentation on the spacecraft. Its estimated diameter is 400 km. (2) Saturn has a magnetic field, magnetosphere, and magnetic belts. (3) Low temperatures mean that life on the planet's satellite Titan is unlikely, though still possible. (4) Two new rings were identified. One, named the F ring, is separated from the A ring by a 3,600-km gap called the Pioneer Division. A second ring, the G ring, lies between the orbits of the satellites Rhea and Titan. (5) A feature called the French Division, between the middle and inner visible rings (B and C rings) was seen in Pioneer pictures of the shadow of the rings on Saturn's surface. It was named after French astronomers who first suggested its presence. (6) Substantial particle material was seen in Cassini's Division and in the outer and inner portions of the A ring. The Cassini Division looks empty when viewed from Earth. (7) Preliminary measurements of the ring mass indicated they have a low density and probably are made up largely of ice. (8) Pioneer sustained two micro-meteoroid hits above the rings and three more hits below the rings. (9) Gravity field mea-[265] surements indicated that Saturn is flattened about 10% at the poles by its rapid rotation. (10) Gravity field analysis and temperature profile measurements suggested that the planet's core is about twice the size of Earth, but is so compressed by Saturn's huge mass that it contains about 11 Earth masses of material, largely iron and rock. (11) Above the core, the planet apparently consists of liquid metallic hydrogen, which does not exist on Earth. (12) More than twice as much heat is radiated into space by Saturn than it absorbs from the Sun. (13) Saturn's magnetic field is 1,000 times stronger than Earth's and 20 times weaker than Jupiter's. (14) Saturn has radiation belts made up of high-energy electrons and protons that are comparable in intensity to those of Earth, but they are completely eliminated by Saturn's rings. The high-energy particles bounce back and forth between Saturn's poles about once a second, until absorbed by ring material. This produces the most radiation-free sector of space yet found in the solar system. (15) Ultraviolet instrumentation may have detected a generalized hydrogen glow or the presence of auroras on Saturn. (Director's memorandum 79-161; Ames release 79-42; Astrogram, 15 Nov. 1979)


21 Nov.

A University of Iowa team led by Dr. James Van Allen announced more discoveries based on data returned from Pioneer 11. A 12th moon of Saturn, a new ring around the planet, and a possible 13th moon had been found. The 12th moon is about 170 km in diameter and lies within the region occupied by Saturn's outer F ring. The moon's period of revolution around Saturn is about 15 hr. The new ring, 8000 km wide, directly adjoins the outer F ring and could be considered an outward extension of it, though it is composed of more tenuous material than the F ring. The discoveries were made by what Van Allen calls "particle-beam astronomy." This means that as high-speed subatomic particles oscillate between Saturn's poles, traveling known paths through the planet's symmetrical magnetic field, they form particle beams much as in a particle accelerator. As the particles are absorbed by moons and ring material, the beam is cut off. Shadows in the beams indicate moons and rings, the size of which can be measured. A 13th moon was suggested by particle-beam measurements, but Van Allen's team was uncertain whether the information indicated another moon or only the changing character of the particles at that location. (Ames release 79-45; Astrogram, 29 Nov. 1979)



[266] 20 Dec.

Ames celebrated its 40th anniversary with the unveiling of a plaque at the original construction site. Russell Robinson, from the NACA's Washington office, had been at Moffett Field to oversee the initial construction efforts in December 1939 and broke ground for the first building-a construction shack that also provided temporary office space. For the anniversary ceremony Robinson helped Ames Director Clarence Syvertson unveil the commemorative plaque. (Astrogram, 27 Dec. 1979)


21 Dec.

The AD-1 oblique-wing research aircraft made its maiden flight at Dryden Flight Research Center. In a 38-min flight the craft reached an altitude of 300 m and a speed of 140 knots. The wing of the craft, which could be moved back as much as 60° while the opposite wing moves forward an equal amount, remained fixed during the flight. After several more flights to demonstrate airworthiness and to gain familiarity with the craft's basic flight behavior, NASA was to use the aircraft to investigate the handling qualities and control characteristics generic to oblique-wing aircraft. The concept, originally developed by R. T. Jones to provide more efficient transonic flight, had undergone extensive wind-tunnel testing at Ames, culminating in the joint Ames-Dryden AD-1 flight research project. (Astrogram, 24 Jan. 1980)




1 Jan.

John W. Boyd returned to Ames as associate director after serving as deputy director of Dryden Flight Research Center for a year. He had formerly been deputy director of the Aeronautics and Flight Systems Directorate. (Director's memorandum 79-210; Astrogram, 13 Dec. 1979)


31 Jan.

The Shuttle Infrared Telescope Facility study team was established within the Space Projects Division in the Astronautics Directorate. After eight years of preliminary work, the start of design definition studies made a formal team desirable. The work would complement and extend the capability of the Gerard P. Kuiper Observatory and the IRAS project currently under way. The shuttle telescope was to have an aperture of nearly one meter and would be cryogenically cooled. (Director's memorandum 80-15)


[267] Also in Jan.

The Galileo orbiter-probe mission to Jupiter, scheduled for launch in January 1982, had to be revised. The Space Shuttle was not going to be able to lift a payload as heavy as Galileo so early in Shuttle's operational history. Therefore the Galileo mission would be flown on two spacecraft and launched separately. The Galileo Project Office at Ames would be responsible for development of a new carrier for the probe. Overall management of the mission remained the responsibility of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which was also developing the orbiter. (Astrogram, 3 Apr. 1980)


1 Feb.

A. Thomas Young, deputy director of Ames, was named director of Goddard Space Flight Center. Jack Boyd became acting deputy director of Ames, as well as retaining his position of associate director. (Director's memorandum 79-196; Astrogram, 13 Dec. 1979)


10 Feb.

Following the retirement of Dean Chapman, William Ballhaus was named director of astronautics, moving up from chief of the Applied Computational Aerodynamics Branch. He won the prestigious Lawrence Sperry Award in 1980. (Director's memorandum 80-27 and 79-154; Astrogram, 22 Feb. 1980)


12 Feb.The QSRA resumed its flight program after a 4-month stand-down for extensive modification, which included installation of underwing fairings, a speed-hold system, revised spoiler gearing, a new antiskid brake system, and alteration of the horizontal tail. A joint program with the Navy was to begin in April. (Astrogram, 22 Feb. 1979)


28 Feb.

The Pioneer Project received special Honor Awards for the successful completion of the Pioneer-Saturn and Pioneer-Venus missions. Deputy Administrator Alan Lovelace was at Ames to help celebrate the event. (Astrogram, 24 Jan, 7 Mar. 1980)


29 Feb.

The Pioneer Project Office was closed after 16 years of developing and flying spacecraft to study the Sun and various planets. Responsibility for the continued operation of the active spacecraft, Pioneer 6-11 and Pioneer-Venus Orbiter, was transferred to the Space Missions Branch of the Space Projects Division. Charles F. Hall had been Pioneer project manager since 1963. (Ames release 80-4; Director's memorandum 80-36)


[268] Also in Feb.

The Biomedical Research Division within the Life Sciences Directorate was planning a study to determine if humans aged 55 to 65 could safely ride the Space Shuttle. First briefings were held for the prospective subjects; of the 44 who reported for physicals, 25 were found fit enough to participate in preliminary testing. Final selectees would enter Ames's Human Research Facility for 9 days of controlled observations, 10 days of bedrest, and 5 days of recovery and tests. Dr. Harold Sandler was project scientist. (Ames release 80-7; Astrogram, 1 May1980)



An 11-m satellite communications antenna was installed to bring Ames real-time test data from research aircraft flying at Dryden Flight Research Center. The communications path would be from the aircraft to Dryden, to an RCA Satcom, to the new antenna, and to Ames computers almost instantaneously. Flight testing of the Army-NASA Tilt Rotor Research Aircraft later this spring was to provide the first use of the new system. (Astrogram, 7 Mar. 1980)


21 Mar.

With the resignation of Loren Bright, Sam White was named director of research support. White had been chief of the Helicopter Technology Division since 1977. (Director's memorandum 80-52; Astrogram, 3 Apr. 1980)


Also in Mar.

In the first of a series of investigations, the Vertical Motion Simulator was used to evaluate changes planned for the Shuttle orbiter control system. The modifications concerned the control characteristics of the spacecraft in the atmospheric reentry phase and during landing. The simulator had a greater motion-range capability than any other facility and could therefore more accurately reproduce the motion an astronaut at the controls of the Shuttle would feel on approach, flare, and landing. (Astrogram, 3 Apr. 1980)


28 Apr.

The IRAS Project was moved from the Space Projects Division to the Astronautics Directorate. R. R. Nunamaker, who had been temporary manager, returned to his permanent position as chief of the Space Projects Division; D. L. Compton became IRAS Project manager. (Director's memorandum 80-80)


29 Apr.

Richard Peterson, chief of the Ames Aerodynamics Division, was named deputy director of Langley Research Center. (Ames release 80-31; Astrogram, 15 May 1980)


[269] Apr.

The Army Aeromechanics Laboratory sponsored a flight simulator visual-systems workshop in April at Ames to exchange ideas on the psychophysical and engineering aspects of visual simulation systems. The discussions were expected to benefit the design of a ground-based facility to simulate rotorcraft missions, a joint project of the laboratory and Ames. (Astrogram, 12 June 1980)


8 May

The shore-based phase of the joint Navy-NASA QSRA flight program was completed. The first objective was to determine the best method of landing a large propulsive-lift aircraft on an aircraft carrier. Repeated landings under various conditions generated data on specific aspects of approach and landing, such as touchdown dispersion and sink rate. If approved, the next phase of the program would involve unarrested landings aboard an aircraft carrier at sea. (Astrogram, 29 May 1980)



Through data returned by Pioneer-Venus spacecraft, researchers identified major features on the planet. By 18 May the orbiting spacecraft had radar-mapped a belt extending completely around the planet, from 75 degrees North to 63 degrees South latitude, some 93% of Venus's surface. Two huge continent-like features were identified. One, centered at 65 degrees North latitude, is the size of Australia and contains mountains as high as Everest. The other, centered about 5 degrees South, has somewhat lower terrain and is half as large as Africa. The data also show deep rift valleys, rolling plains, high plateaus, and other mountains. Scientists proposed that the northern highland mass be named Ishtar Terra, for Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of love and war. Aphrodite Terra was proposed as a name for the equatorial upland mass, after the Greek goddess of love, known to the Romans as Venus. (Ames releases 80-47, 80-48; Astrogram, 10 July 1980)



Ames psychophysiologist Patricia Cowings presented research which she believed might result in a cure for "space sickness," motion sickness in the weightless environment of spaceflight. Working in the Biomedical Research Division, Cowing and associates taught about 50 volunteers how to suppress illness when subjected to an ever-faster-spinning chair. 65% of the volunteers became able to suppress illness symptoms at all speeds; another 20% learned to tolerate significantly higher speeds before becoming sick. By monitoring respiration and [270] heart rate, the subjects learned to recognize when their bodies were operating best. In addition to biofeedback, subjects were taught mental exercises to speed up the learning process. (Ames release 80-32; Astrogram, 29 May 1980)


15-28 June

A NASA delegation of aeronautics R&D officials visited China in an exchange that would bring members of the Chinese aeronautical establishment to the U.S. in the fall. Each group hoped ky become familiar with the other's civil aeronautics program in preparation for exploring prospects for U.S.-Chinese cooperation in this field. The group met Chinese officials in Beijing and toured aeronautical facilities. Ames Director of Astronautics William Ballhaus was among the delegation. (Astrogram, 26 June, 24 July 1980)


26 June

A project team was established to plan a new flight simulator, the Man-Vehicle Systems Research Facility. Its purpose would be to minimize pilot and ground-control errors in commercial aviation, both present and future, and in air-traffic-control systems. The new facility was expected to cost $8 million and be completed in Dec. 1983. (Director's memorandum 80-60)



The tie-down test facility for the XV-15 tilt rotor research aircraft, which would permit ground operation of the rotors in all flight configurations, was completed. The helicopter-sized blades were so large that the craft had to be raised before being ground-tested in the airplane mode. The facility used the hydraulic lift of the existing V/STOL hover-test stand with two tie-down towers that were moved into place after the aircraft was elevated. (Astrogram, 26 June 1980)


Also in May-June

An Ames U-2 took part in a NASA study to find out how volcanic eruptions affect Earth's weather and climate by studying the plumes emitted from Mt. St. Helens, which erupted on 18 May. Data collected for the Aerosol Climate Effects (ACE) program at Ames is the most complete set of observations made of volcanic aerosols in the stratosphere. Aerosols are fine particles, either solid or liquid, suspended in gas; the ACE study began over a year ago to assess the climatic effect of aerosols in the Earth's atmosphere. Five missions were flown in the St. Helens area; preliminary data analysis indicates the volcanic plumes contained a mixture of solid ash particles and sulfuric acid, with proportions varying in different samples. The amount [271] of sulfuric acid found in the stratosphere was several hundred times greater than that found prior to the eruptions; large increases in gaseous sulfur dioxide were also detected.

In addition to the aerosol sampling missions, the U-2 photographed Mt. St. Helens on June 19 at the request of the Washington State Office of Emergency Services. The flight was the result of a month of weather map observations for predictions of skies clear enough to allow the U-2 to photograph the volcanic damage from an altitude of 19,800 m. The photography gave the state the first comprehensive coverage of the damaged area. (Astrogram, 24 July 1980, 7 Aug. 1980)


10-13 July

The QSRA made several flights from and landed on the USS Kittyhawk at sea- the first time that a four-engine jet transport had operated aboard an aircraft carrier. Both touch-and-go and full-stop landings were made by a team consisting of one Navy pilot and two NASA research pilots. This was the second phase of a joint Navy-NASA program that started in March 1980; data obtained would provide the Navy with a basis for planning airplane and ship procurement. (Astrogram, 24 July 1980)



Bell Helicopter completed the first phase of the XV-15 tilt rotor research aircraft flight-test program in Texas. Subsequent flights at Dryden Flight Research Center would expand the maneuvering envelope and investigate operational aspects of the tilt rotor for military and civil applications. The second XV-15 was being tested at the Ames tiedown facility, with flight testing planned for late fall 1980. (Astrogram, 21 Aug. 1980)


27 Aug.

Ames selected two firms to do system design studies for its Numerical Aerodynamic Simulator, a specialized supercomputer to assist in developing and testing new flight vehicles, as well as doing fluid-flow research in meteorology, gas dynamics, and computational chemistry. The studies were expected to result in a new data processor 40 times faster than existing supercomputers, with a high-speed memory 60 times larger than the current generation of supercomputers. The two contractors were Burroughs Corporation of Paoli, Pennsylvania, and Control Data Corporation of Arden Hills, Minnesota. (Ames release 80-71; Astrogram, 11 Sept. 1980)


11 Sept.

Vice Premier Bo Yibo of China visited Ames with 16 other Chinese delegates who were on a month-long visit to the United [272] States. He had been invited to visit a NASA center by Deputy Administrator Alan Lovelace, who headed the NASA delegation to China in June. The Vice Premier was touring the United States to observe the operations of major high-technology firms as part of the reorganization and modernization of China's machine-building industry. (Astrogram, 3 Oct. 1980)


12 Sept.

The Augmentor Wing Jet STOL Research Aircraft completed its last research flight at Ames after over eight years of STOL flight research. The joint program between NASA and the Canadian Department of Industry, Trade, and Commerce began in the mid-1960s with a series of model tests in the Ames 40- by 80-foot wind tunnel. The present aircraft was designed around a de Havilland of Canada Buffalo (C-8A) donated to NASA by the USAF. The Boeing Company modified the aircraft, and Rolls Royce and de Havilland designed the propulsion system. A powered elevator, antiskid brakes, and a comprehensive digital avionics research system (called STOLAND) were installed. In 1974 the aircraft was transferred to the Avionics Research Branch, and over the next three years utilized the broad range of capabilities provided by STOLAND to investigate the operational characteristics of powered-lift transports. The first fully automatic landing was made in 1975; later research investigated flightpath tracking and flare-control laws. The aircraft was to be returned to Canada for further exploration of the augmentor concept. (Astrogram, 31 Oct. 1980)


16 Sept.

The Ames Basic Research Council was established to evaluate and recommend proposals for the Director's Discretionary Fund, Funds for Independent Research, and to represent Ames on the OAST Research Council at NASA Headquarters. (Director's memorandum 80-172)


17 Sept.

The Aeronautics and Flight Systems Directorate was reorganized to accommodate new program responsibilities, facilities, and research aircraft. The reorganization would permit Ames to be more responsive to the needs of the helicopter program and to give added emphasis to disciplinary research. The Helicopter Technology Division and the V/STOL Aircraft Technology Division were combined to form the Helicopter and Powered Lift Division; the Simulation Sciences Division and the Flight Systems Research Division were combined to form the Flight Systems and Simulation Research Division. (Ames release 80-74; Director's memorandum 80-176)


[273] Sept.

Ames announced that the 40- by 80-foot wind tunnel would close in July 1981 for approximately one year to complete an $85 million modification project. The power system was to be enlarged and a new 80- by 120-foot test section added. (Astrogram, 18 Sept. 1982)


30 Oct.

NASA and Army officials of the Tilt Rotor Research Aircraft Project accepted the first XV-15 aircraft in ceremonies at Dryden Flight Research Center. Government flight testing, to be conducted by NASA, Army, and Navy, and Bell Helicopter Textron, would follow to demonstrate and evaluate the tilt-rotor concept. A second aircraft was undergoing ground testing at Ames. (Ames release 80-76; Astrogram, 26 Dec. 1980)


31 Oct.

Angelo Guastaferro was named deputy director of Ames. He had been director of the Planetary Division, Office of Space Science, NASA Headquarters. He began his NASA career at Langley Research Center in 1963. (Director's memorandum 80-205; Astrogram, 14 Nov. 1980)


4 Nov.

Following the resignation of Leonard Roberts as director of aeronautics and flight systems in September, Thomas Snyder was appointed to the position. Snyder had been chief of the Flight Systems Research Division. (Director's memorandum 80-194; Astrogram, 28 Nov. 1980)


18 Nov.

Hughes Aircraft Company was chosen for the negotiation of a contract for the Galileo Probe Carrier Spacecraft; the estimated contract value was $40 million. The spacecraft was scheduled to be launched from the Space Shuttle in Mar. 1984. Upon reaching Jupiter in July 1987, the carrier would release the probe, which would then enter the planet's atmosphere. (Ames release 80-79)


30 Nov.

The Technology Utilization Office was abolished, and its functions were transferred to the Western Regional Applications Office within the Airborne Missions and Applications Division of the Astronautics Directorate. The office was renamed the Western Regional Applications and Technology Utilization Office. (Director's memorandum 80-215)


4 Dec.

Pioneer-Venus 1 completed two years in orbit. Its data led to explanations of the planet-wide circulation of Venus's atmo-[274] sphere, greenhouse effect, and long-term patterns of cloud circulation, as well as new measurements of atmospheric elements. (Ames releases 80-84, 80-88)


9 Dec.

The parachute system for the Galileo Jupiter atmosphere probe was flight tested at the Naval Weapons Center, China Lake. It was the third and last test of the system; improvements had been made in the parachute after previous tests. (Ames release 80-81)


16 Dec.

Pioneer 6 completed 16 years of circling the Sun and returning useful data - the longest operating life ever attained by an interplanetary spacecraft. The original specifications called for an operating life of six months; Pioneer 7, 8, and 9 were also years beyond their six-month design lives. Together, they made up a network of solar weather stations. (Ames release 80-91)


18 Dec.

Ames researcher Dr. David White proposed a new way of thinking about the origin of life on Earth. He suggested that simple self-replicating chemical systems, rather than complex ones, could have served as the precursors of living cells more than 3.5 billion years ago. The first chemical systems, which were "alive" only in the sense that they could reproduce themselves, may have been far simpler than previously thought. The question raised by the theory was whether some combination of these simple molecules would have the necessary properties to reproduce themselves. (Ames release 80-52)



The QSRA completed a comprehensive flight program in which each of 20 experimental test pilots, representing 15 different organizations, made two flights. (Astrogram, 12 Dec. 1980)



Steelwork for the new test section on the 40- by 80-foot wind tunnel began. The 183-m addition was to culminate in a bell-shaped air intake 110 m wide and 40 m high. (Astrogram, 26 Dec. 1980)