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PSA Microgravity Challenge
Preliminary Designs

New Market Middle School
Mrs. Laffer / Ms. Engle's 6th Grade

Jordan, Chris, Ryan, Micheal F., Al, & Michael S.

Expert Response Below

For the NASA competition, the sixth graders at New Market Middle School have come up with, what they think, is a workable plan. There are four fans which control the four basic motions, and a main fan to maove the PSA up or down and to hover. The system is controlled by RC and powered by a rechargeable battery. There are two of the batteries to do a "HOT SWAP", e.g. when the one battery dies, the other one is changed in to keep it going.

Student drawing of design

The environment within which this will be tested is POSSIBLY a magnetized box which positive and negative forces repel one another to simulate microgravity. We're waiting to hear if using something magnetic would mess up the PSA's memory--if whatever is stored on its drive is magnetic.

Response from Expert Dan Andrews:

I'm not sure how this fixture works. The PSA (tennis ball) seems to be inside of another container which has fans on it.

How would I make the PSA move "up" within this container? Wouldn't gravity keep the PSA always laying on the bottom of the container?

What do the fans do?

Answer from Class:

For those questions on our design, we have actually changed completly. We now have a disk that holds the fans and helium balloons provide the lift. The PSA sits in a holder and the disk moves vertical and horizontal. The fans are what move the whole platform.

I hope that answers you questions.

Further "expert" Comment:

I like the new idea much better. I hope you can provide a drawing which would illustrate your idea to others.

I have a new question: If you use helium balloons as you suggest, and you filled them with just enough helium to cancel the weight of a PSA hanging beneath it, the PSA would just float there, right? What if I pushed up on the PSA? wouldn't it simply move up? Do you need any fans to enable the PSA to move up and down? What about moving sideways (left-to-right)?

I think you might be onto something, but explore it a little further...

Responce to "further expert comment"

The left and right thing was in our original prototype for our latest idea. But, we could not fing any text that said it had to move left and right. We did however, as I said before, have it under total left, right, forward, and backward control. Thanks, Jordan

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