I have been instrument engineer for two very different aircraft based instruments.
In this role I was responsible for the complete mechanical configuration, design and assembly, build and packaging. Responsibility for end to end instrument performance was shared with the instrument scientist, who had charge of the experiment design, calibration and execution. As instrument engineer I flew with the package on the calibration runs.

The most recent instrument was a free float experiment for microgravity simulation, in an aircraft flying a parabolic trajectory, which measured microgravity properties of superfluid helium.
Microgravity occurred when the aircraft crested the parabola, and the aircraft and contents were in free-fall. The "float" package, which contained a dewar with liquid helium, was connected with an umbilical cord to data handling and control electronics package. The float packages was deployed and captured around forty five times per flight, during repeated zero-gravity simulation flights.

Another aircraft instrument for which the mechanical configuration and packaging were done by me, was a gas sampling spectrometer with fixed under-wing mounting on a modified U2 aircraft.


For expanded descriptions of these facilities or the aircraft employed click below:

Superfluid He Slosh Experiment

Airborne Laser Spectrometer

Aircraft Platforms for these Instruments



Near-Zero Gravity in
a DC-7
About this photo: The image above shows Peter Mason, PI, 
(in the yellow flight suit) and an assistant  floating around the 
cabin of the DC-7 during a dive.
(click image to enlarge)



     
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