About TSGC




1: National Space Grant College & Fellowship Program Objectives

2: Texas Space Grant

3: Organization

4: Higher Education Programs

5: Outreach/Public Service Programs

6: Research Programs

7: Weaknesses and Solutions

8: Closing Remarks/Fact Sheet

10th Year Report

6.	Research Programs

Recognizing that TSGC's limited resources preclude the funding of continued research, TSGC has opted to utilize its research budget by providing seed grants. Since 1994 TSGC has sponsored over 200 such research efforts. In some instances TSGC was extremely successful in assisting a new program to secure other outside funding. These projects have had a total budget of $5.9 M. Greater than 94% of these funds were provided by outside sources with less than 6% provided by TSGC.


National Research Priorities  
# Cntrb.
Provide resources to initiate research programs.  
6.2, 6.4, 6.7
Coordinate with other NASA programs.  
6.2, 6.3, 6.4
Enhance opps. for faculty partnerships with NASA personnel.  
6.1, 6.5, 6.7
Establish mechanisms for collaboration among industries universities, and NASA  
6.1, 6.3, 6.4
Implement research linking academic and industrial affiliates   69 6.4, 6.6, 6.7
Identify and implement topical research consortia.   66 6.1, 6.2, 6.3


6.1	TexaSat

TexaSat was a program developed at the University of Houston under the auspices of TSGC to give Texas universities and industries an opportunity for access to space for the development of space science and technology. This unique payload opportunity resulted from the allocation of excess real estate on the Wake Shield Facility (WSF) directly to TSGC payloads for flight on two separate WSF missions. The goals of the program were to:

  1. Stimulate space science and technology at Texas universities
  2. Promote commercial utilization of space by Texas companies
  3. Elevate the perception of Texas a as place from which to do business in space
  4. Provide an opportunity for smaller/minority Texas universities to develop space technology capacity by teaming with space flight experienced universities and industry

TexaSat-01 was initiated on the WSF-02 flight on September 7, 1995 and the TexaSat-02 was accommodated on the WSF-03 flight of November 19, 1996.

Seven University/Industry payloads were flown in the TexaSat series of missions and resulted in science and technology development in the space arena, training and education of students, and encouragement of industry to utilize the low earth orbit space environment.

The TexaSat program included 14 research professionals, 18 students, 3 technical support staff and over $850,000 of direct and in-kind support in the design, development, and operations of the flight experiments. In addition, the access to space afforded by the Wake Shield Facility program represents an added $2.3 M contribution (under a $10,000/lb assumption for the Space Shuttle).

Figure 4:
The Wake Shield Facility at the end of the Space Shuttle Manipulator

TexaSat Payloads:

  • Global Positioning System - University of Texas at Austin Center for Space Research, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, JPL and AOA
  • DMS, Dual Mass Spectrometer - University of Texas-Dallas, Lamar University, and University of Houston Space Vacuum Epitaxy Center
  • The Cosmic Dust and Orbital Debris Experiment Monitor- Baylor University Space Science Laboratory
  • The Iowa Joint Experiment on Materials Solidification- -Iowa State, the University of Iowa, and the Iowa Space Grant Consortium
  • IST Solar Cell Exposure Experiment - International Stellar Technologies, Inc. and the University of Houston Space Vacuum Epitaxy Center
  • Atomic Oxygen Processing - Ionwerks, Inc. and the University of Houston Spaced Vacuum Epitaxy Center
  • Atomic Oxygen Concentrator - Ionwerks, Inc. and the University of Houston Spaced Vacuum Epitaxy Center


6.2	The Ultrasound Muscle Mass Measurement Technologies Program

The relationship of muscle atrophy and bone demineralization is important to NASA Life Sciences oriented toward long duration space flight. Muscle atrophy and bone strength loss is observed to continue without plateau or end in a micro-gravity environment. Bone loss closely follows muscle atrophy; the tension from muscle acting on bone is important in the maintenance of bone integrity.


At the University of Texas Medical Branch, heart left ventricular and skeletal muscle volume measurement techniques were studied. Three-dimensional reconstructions were realized. Collection of data and resulting quantitative results were animated, and an interactive virtual reality display was demonstrated. A web site communicates the results to academia, industry, and government.

Several NASA proposals were submitted and peer reviews requested more clinical validation of the advanced technology. Present work is oriented toward the ground based clinical applications important to human medical care on earth. The technologies will be waiting "spin on" as opposed to the "spin off". There is no assurance that earth based motivations will precede a micro-gravity requirement for quantitative muscle atrophy measurement.

Figure 5:
Ultrasound generated muscle volume measurement generated at the University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston.

Bone Strength

At the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, changes in bone strength were measured quantitatively for both cortical and cancellous bone. These are structurally and biologically distinct tissues and a new ultrasound critical-angle reflectometry (UCR) technique was developed to study them separately. Further information on the physics and application of the method can be gleaned from the programÍs extensive world wide web site.

Clinical efficacy has been demonstrated with a large, non-portable mechanical device. In a ground based study supported by NASA, UCR was used to measure the response of the two bone types to space flight. The study demonstrates profound differences in the absence of gravity on bone strength in the lower, middle and upper skeleton. This indicates that the technique would be useful in testing the effectiveness of countermeasures (pharmacological and physical) to avoid bone quality losses in space flight.


6.3	Texas Regional Change Program

The Texas Regional Change Program (TRCP) is a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional endeavor focused on establishing a remote sensing research cooperative program throughout the state of Texas consisting of University, NASA-JSC, State of Texas, and Industrial partners which is a cost effective means for data acquisition and a competitive group for acquiring new research dollars. The TRCP was established in 1996 to facilitate the acquisition of high-resolution optical and synthetic aperture radar imagery along the Texas coast. The TRCP program collects and conducts the accompanying research required to analyze, verify, interpret, and understand the implications of remotely sensed data for studying environmental change in Texas. The principle goal of the TRCP is to collect and acquire remotely sensed imagery over portions of the state which can be studied and analyzed as part of a collaborative program. Collaborative work includes algorithm development, ground verification, establishment of thematic datasets, and data processing techniques.

The focus of the remote sensing research is divided into 3 geographic areas: coastal regions, Rio Grande river/borderlands, and agriculture areas. Due to the large amount of interest in the coastal area from many academic partners, state agencies, and NASA, the first year was focused on the Texas coast. In June 1996, TRCP provided funding to acquire high resolution optical and radar imagery over portions of the Texas coast. These areas include optical imagery (CAMS) over Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula, as well as both optical (CAMS) and synthetic aperture radar imagery (AIRSAR) over the Corpus Christi/Aransas NWR area. In addition, data will be collected at several locations along the Texas coast from an airborne hyperspectral sensor which is capable of collecting 21 bands of imagery sensitive to vegetative cover.

Research in the first year of the TRCP was done primarily by the University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology and Center for Space Research and was focused on image processing and classification of imagery in the Galveston and Corpus Christi areas. These efforts have resulted in three publications, two to the International Geosciences and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS '97) and one to the 1998 NASA JPL AIRSAR Workshop. The second year of research will focus on the continued classification of the optical and SAR datasets, as well as establishing the digital database.

During the second year, the TRCP is working with students from Galveston Ball High school located in Galveston, TX. Students from Ball High School will perform a GPS ground verification campaign using the high-resolution optical imagery acquired over Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula. The vegetation mapping performed by Ball High students will coincide with other related field trips. The vegetation information that they record will be stored in an on-line database maintained by UT-CSR and will be made available for public use. Curriculum is currently being developed for the high school classroom which will help the teacher introduce digital imagery to the students.


6.4	Lunar Outpost Construction

This program studied the properties of the lunar regolith for the production of in-situ lunar construction materials. This program was originally funded by TSGC and was continued into 1998 with funding from NASA/JSC. Undergraduate students, graduate students, and university professors at Prairie View A&M University, a federally designated Historically Black College or University, studied properties of the lunar regolith as a source of raw materials for construction projects on the moon. This research project lead to more than ten senior projects, graduate research studies, technical papers, and conference presentations.


6.5	Cooperative Space Research Program

To more directly address the national priorities in research, in 1998 TSGC established the Cooperative Space Research Program (SRP). The purpose of this program is to stimulate institutional research that supports Texas aerospace industries, foster participation of member industry and academic organizations in TSGC research efforts, encourage collaborative research among TSGC members, and pursue long range research goals. Preference is given to proposals supporting collaborative research that is broadly related to the Human Exploration and Development of Space NASA Strategic Enterprise projects on an annual basis with a maximum two-year renewal eligibility. A total of $150,000 per year has been allocated to this program with the maximum request set at $50,000. Renewal requests are considered for a maximum 50% of the original SRP grant funding the second year and 25% the third year. Each proposal must include a commitment letter from an industry partner to commit matching cash funds of at least a one-to-one dollar ratio to the project. In-kind matching is also encouraged but will not count toward the dollar-to-dollar cash matching requirement


6.6	Miniaturized Heat Pipes

The objective of this project is to derive and demonstrate designs for flexible radiators fin materials to be used in space. The project addresses both flexible miniature heat pipe concepts for integration into the fins, and the thermal interface between the mini-heat pipes and the interfacing loop heat pipe or fluid flow tubes. New flexible materials, such as graphite fabrics, have sufficiently high thermal conductivity to be considered as space radiator fins for advanced applications. One important example is the proposed inflatable lunar or Mars human transit habitat module. The potential for use of these materials can be increased by incorporation of miniature heat pipes directly into the flexible materials to further enhance fin efficiency. TSGC and Lockheed Martin fund this project.


6.7	Get-Away-Special Canister

Get-Away-Special Canister (GASCan) is a NASA program that provides opportunity to fly small payloads in the Space Shuttle cargo bay. Our GASCan program was initiated by a grant from TSGC to the University of Texas at Dallas and to Lamar University to fly a set of student experiments in a GASCan.

The program has evolved into the ASTOR Satellite project which involves an ejectable satellite that will be released from a GASCan in the Shuttle bay. When the satellite is a safe distance from the Shuttle, it will separate into two parts connected by a tether of some 2.5 km in length. The goals of the ASTOR program are to study the tether deployment using a tensiometer, video cameras and a GPS receiver on each section, and to provide a platform for student experiments to be flown on-orbit. Several high schools have joined the project and will work with sensors for the mission. Students in a rocketry and payloads class at Lamar University will mentor them. Instruments to be flown include accelerometers, magnetometers, solar UV sensors, thermisters, and a sun sensor. Data will be downlinked over ham radio bands and an active web site will be maintained. Video data of the earth and its cloud cover will be provided periodically. Launch is expected in approximately two years.