I have done instrument design for various aircraft.
These include the ER2 and the especially prepared DC-7 which was used by
NASA Glenn Research Center for zero gravity simulations.
Because of the special applications and conditions of use
for these aircraft, crew safety, structural integrity, "fail safe"
structures, and well considered handling of pressure vessels, power supplies,
cryogens (both experiments had liquid gasses aboard) were of unusual concern.
The ALIAS instrument, still flying, is a tunable diode laser
spectrometry that flies in the under-wing pod of an de-militarized U2
aircraft. Low cost, ease of installation and aircraft safety were
of central importance in this installation. For details of the
ALIAS instrument try: http://laserweb.jpl.nasa.gov/alias.htm
The superfluid helium slosh experiment investigated
the damping properties of superfluid helium. Superfluid helium is
a "quantum fluid" having "no" viscosity. Since
superfluid helium is important as a cryogen in various planned spacecraft
including SIRTF and Gravity Probe B, there was serious concern about the
properties of this material in motion as a potential disturbing factor
on the pointing accuracy or microgravity stability of the spacecrafts
on which it is intended to be deployed. The aircraft platform was
a relatively low cost vehicle for investigating the zero-gravity properties
of this interesting material..
The DC-7 aircraft, consumes a full load of fuel in about
an hour, flying repeated parabolic trajectories.
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