Members of Hartselle High School’s ANGGRI BIRD team, from left, are Chris Brown, head of engineering; Nick Watson, marketing; Jake Whitt, project manager; Colton Ord, communications lead; Eli Baer, head of marketing; Kim Pittman, teacher; Michael Powell, Engineering; and Jack Holland, communications.

Archived Story

Working for NASA

Published 12:10pm Wednesday, November 21, 2012

For the second year in a row, third level pre-engineering students at Hartselle High School are competing in InSPIRESS, a space-launch project sponsored by the University of Alabama-Huntsville and NASA.

The students go by the name of ANGGRI BIRD, which is an acronym for “Analyzing the Native Geology of Ganymede as a result of Intrusion By an Impactor to Receive Data.

Their mission is to develop and design a scientific payload to be accommodated on a NASA spacecraft. They collaborate with undergraduate engineering students at UAH, NASA engineers and UAH professors to understand the engineering requirements, design process and the role a customer plays in design.

On Nov. 13, the team conducted an experiment in the high school’s indoor athletic facility to determine the optimum shape for a portion of the payload design. It involved shooting five different pellet shapes into ice sheets to observe the shape and size of the debris field. Ice was chosen for the experiment because the surface of Ganymede is frozen.

Each shot was recorded by two videographers using high resolution cameras and laptop computers. The images were saved for use later to determine the success of the experiment.

“It looks simple on the surface,” said pre-engineering teacher Kim Pittman. “But these students have spent hours working with geometry, calculus and physics to build the perfect payload.

Their work will be subject to a critical design review later this month and will be evaluated by a panel of judges at the Marshall Space Flight Center on Dec. 10. The experiment was observed by UAH professors Dr. Matt Turner and Dr. P.J. Benfield as well as gifted students from Hartselle Junior High School.

Jake Whitt fires a flat-headed bullet from a stationary pellet gun into an ice bed to simulate an unmanned NASA spacecraft mission. The experiment was conducted on Nov. 13 with representatives from UAH and NASA observing. | Clif Knight

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