Dr. Janice Pawloski of the Hope College engineering faculty has received a grant from NASA in support of her research into how material destined for space handles changes in temperature.
The grant was one of only two awarded to
researchers in Michigan by the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration through its Cross-Enterprise Technology
Development Program. The program is a primary NASA vehicle
for identifying and developing revolutionary space
technologies to enable future missions and stimulate new
concepts for missions not yet conceived.
Pawloski will be developing a mathematical model
for anticipating how composite materials reinforced with
microscopic, man-made carbon nanotubes react to changes in
temperature. It is hoped that these composites will some
day be used in space applications.
"Anything that is put into space is going to see a
temperature change," she said. "We want to see how these
components interact with different types of material around
them, and develop a model for determining if they can
maintain their structural integrity in the process of
getting from earth into space."
According to Pawloski, the technology for creating
and using the carbon nanotubes, which individually are
smaller in diameter than a human hair, is still developing.
Using data from others' work so far with nanotubes and
composite materials, she hopes to work out a formula that
will anticipate results in place of the expensive and time-
consuming process of trial-and-error.
"I want to develop a mathematical model where they
can simply input the parameters," she said. "What I would
like to do is get it to where they could tell beforehand
whether or not the combination is feasible."
The $112,000 grant will support Pawloski's work
for three years, beginning in January. She will conduct her
research primarily on the Hope campus, with Hope students
participating in the work during both the school year and
Pawloski has been a member of the Hope faculty
since 1997. She holds a bachelor of science degree from
Michigan Technological University, and a master's and
doctorate from Iowa State University.
NASA received 1,229 proposals for the Cross-
Enterprise Technology Development Program, funding 111 for a
total of more than $120 million. The broad range of
studies, to be conducted by colleges and universities,
industry, and private and government laboratories, will
address general technology areas, ranging from new component
technologies, to the development of new sensors, to the
automation of spacecraft functions.
The other Michigan researcher to receive an award
through the program is David Hyland of the Aerospace
Engineering program at the University of Michigan, who is
studying "Self-Reliant, High Resolution Imaging Using
Formation Flying Spacecraft."