PART 1: Another new feature - the LFS Newsletters
PART 2: Looking for certain participants
PART 3: Counting cosmic rays and two professional experiments

Tonight we will begin distributing the first in a series of weekly
LFS Newsletters. In the future you can expect them to be mailed out
each Monday. The newsletters will summarize various project
activities and will be a good way to stay in touch with the three T's:
Television, Telecommunications and Teachers. We are lucky to have
Margaret Riel (of AT&T Learning Circles fame) as the editor.


We would like to identify Live From the Stratosphere participants
who meet certain criteria. If you are planning a special LFS activity
like a student sleepover, or star party, or community event, please
let us know.  We are very interested in the special ways that LFS is
planned to be used.

Also, we would like to hear from you if you are a teacher in the
following locations: 
 - Northern San Diego county
 - St. Louis, MO area
 - Salt Lake City and its environs
 - central Arkansas

If you fit into any of these categories, please send a brief Email note
to marc@quest.arc.nasa.gov and be sure to include a phone number.
Thanks so much


Mission Report
"NASA 714 Heavy Jack, you are cleared for take-off on runway 8 south"
by Steve Kliewer

Phase I: KAO
Friday, August 4,1995
My wife, Judy and I arrived at Honolulu International Airport at 11:20 
am HST after a 5-hour flight from San Francisco. The ocean was 
painted in iridescent shades of blue and green. The sky was a deep 
blue and everywhere the vegetation was a lush green with liberal 
splashes of vibrantly colored flowers. It was warm and humid 
(actually drenching). This was a dramatic change from the morning.  
We had left Fresno at 6:00 am PDT on a 30 passenger turboprop 
airplane for a 35 minute flight to San Francisco. The sunrise over the 
Sierra was outstanding and the views of the valley were fascinating.   
However, the entire bay area was blanketed in a uniform fog layer and 
nothing on the ground could be seen until just before touchdown.  
In San Francisco we changed to a Boeing DC-10 wide-body jet holding 
about 400 passengers. During our acceleration down the runway, I 
tried to imagine the air racing over the wing faster and faster until 
there was enough less air pressure on the top that the air on the 
bottom could lift this massive aircraft off the runway. I could only 
marvel that airplanes really do fly.

On takeoff, rising through the fog layer again, we quickly lost sight of 
the ground. A few miles out over the Pacific the fog dissipated and 
the rest of the flight was over a beautiful blue ocean speckled here 
and there with whitecaps and coated with small puffs of cumulus 
clouds arranged neatly in rows far below us. The pilot informed us 
that our cruising altitude this flight was 34,000 feet.
As we made our final approach for touchdown, I was surprised and 
excited to see the Kuiper Airborne Observatory parked in front of a 
hanger in what later turned out to be the military part of the airport, 
called Hickam Air Force Base.

Once we arrived in Honolulu we checked into the Hilton Hawaiian 
Village in Waikiki. This is a superb resort. It is a complete village of 
shops, services, and entertainment; and is right on Waikiki beach.   
Paths wind between buildings amongst lush vegetation, waterfalls, 
palm trees, Koi pools, & even penguins.  

During check-in, Judy and I were met by another observer Steve Cox 
and his wife, Ruth. Steve Cox is the observer from the Rotary Clubs 
that sponsored a large part of this trip for Jean Roberts and I. Jean 
Roberts, my partner in this team, was due to arrive later this evening.
Once we had checked in we made contact with the NASA 
representative, Edna DeVore, and arranged a preliminary visit with the 
Investigators on the KAO that afternoon. After a beautiful drive 
through Honolulu on Interstate highway H1 we were admitted through 
security onto the base. It is a beautiful base with old but well 
maintained buildings, some of which still show the scars of aircraft 
gunfire during the Japanese invasion.

When we arrived at hanger 13, only the ground crew was there. They 
were busy replenishing the on-board liquid helium supply, testing the 
flight systems, and slowly warming and drying the telescope from 
that morning's flight. The normal mission schedule allows for a 
mission every other night.  

The crew was most helpful, allowing us to climb all over the aircraft, 
sit in the pilots seat on the flight deck, look in the telescope 
compartment and generally make like tourists and take lots of 

Shortly after this the scientists (known as Investigators) arrived and 
after introductions they were most eager to explain to us what they 
would be attempting to do on tomorrow night's mission. There were 
actually two groups of investigators on board, each group with a 
different but complementary objective. The first group, from the 
University of Wisconsin, had selected objects in the southern sky, and 
therefore would observe during the first half of our mission while we 
flew westward. The second group, from Harvey Mudd University, 
would then take over during our return (eastward flight) for observing 
their objects in the northern skies.  

Both groups, although differing in specific techniques, and in the 
details of their expectations were seeking answers to, essentially, 
the same questions: "How do galaxies form and evolve?", "What is 
the shape and chemical structure of our own galaxy?"  Chemical 
abundances are the fossil record of the evolution of a galaxy.  
Studying our own galaxy is like trying to study a whole forest from 
one location within the forest. "You can't see the forest for the 
trees."  Visible light is absorbed by all the dust here in the plane of 
the galaxy. The very thing we want to study prevents us from seeing 
very far. Infra-red light (IR) is not absorbed by the dust and therefore 
allows us to see much more distant objects as long as they are 
radiating IR. It turns out that hot new stars forming in the middle of 
dust clouds cause the dust to radiate IR. The specific wavelengths of 
IR that are radiated, tell us much about what the dust is made of.  
However, after making the journey across the galaxy, Infra-red light 
is strongly absorbed by the water vapor in the earth's atmosphere 
before we can get a chance of seeing it.   

Thus the KAO. It flies at an altitude above 98% of all of the earth's 
water vapor. Even though the telescope is relatively small, and 
operating expenses are high, it is the best alternative to satellite 
based IR observations. Compared with satellites it is much cheaper 
and more easily updated and repaired. Mauna Kea, at 14,000 ft is the 
next best alternative for ground based IR observations. After the KAO 
flight I spent an evening observing with an astronomer at the IR 
observatory, UKIRT, on Mauna Kea.

When I mentioned that I was planning to conduct an experiment to 
measure the relative Cosmic Ray intensities at various altitudes, the 
Investigators were quite interested. It turns out that cosmic rays are 
the main source of background noise in their IR detectors in the 
telescope. It was their thought that having a simultaneous 
measurement of this source of interference would allow them to get 
greater accuracy in their data analysis. I was asked to provide them 
the results after my analysis. I was tickled pink.

After a long, friendly visit with the Investigators, we went off to 
dinner with another astronomer whose job this mission was 
"Tracker". His responsibility was to correctly identify the star-field 
and make sure that the telescope was properly aimed at the correct 
objects. He had just returned from an observing run at the Cerro 
Telolo observatory in the Chilean Andes. Transportation, housing, and 
weather problems are all "par for the course" with astronomers. I 
had a fascinating visit with him.  

We finished dinner by 11 pm local time. This was a very LONG day.  
We had gotten up in Fresno at 4:30 am and were now returning to our 
room at 2 am (Fresno time).

Saturday, August 5, 1995
We returned to the KAO for a 1 pm briefing. This is mandatory for 
everyone, and is a good chance to meet everyone. The briefing was a 
quick, no-nonsense meeting where last minute problems are brought 
up and solved.  

Jim McClenahan is the Mission Manager (i.e. Top Dog on this 
deployment). He is an easygoing friendly type, which is good since I 
still need clearance to set up my Compact Cosmic Ray Telescope 
(CCRT). As soon I can I set up the CCRT and show it to Jim. He asked 
several questions concerning flammability, hazardous chemicals, 
dangerous gases, and shock resistance. I showed him how I planned to 
mount it and that I needed access to a 110 VAC outlet for my power 
supply. I was instructed that all power must be turned off and all 
loose items must be stowed during take-off and landing. He finds an 
engineer and we take it out to the plane and find a secure out-of-the-
way location and mount it there. I am so relieved. I have spent a 
great deal of time, money, and emotion on this experiment and it has 
hinged on this moment.

After the briefing we are fitted for oxygen masks. On aircraft flying 
up to 41,000 ft oxygen masks must be readily available to all 
personnel. Above 41,000 ft they must be worn at all times. Each one 
of us receives a mask that is individually inspected, tested, and 
adjusted for us. These are full military style oxygen masks and are 
strange looking devices designed to be worn over the headphones and 
microphones that we will be wearing.  

The navigator has not yet completed the final flight plan. There is a 
gaggle of pilots and Investigators hovering over him as he works on 
his notebook computer figuring in the latest wind speed predictions, 
and tweaking the lengths of flight legs (straight sections of flight 
paths) to shift observing times for individual Investigators or to 
maximize observing legs and minimize "dead" legs. We return to the 
hotel for dinner and rest. I don't get much of either. I am far 
too excited.

Take-off is scheduled for 9:20 pm HST and we return to Hickam in 
time for the regular mandatory pre-flight meeting at 8:00 pm. We are 
issued copies of the final flight plan, crew manifest, and the 
Investigators work plan. I start the CCRT to obtain baseline sea-level 
measurements (about 10 counts per minute). During the briefing Jean and 
I are invited to ride during take-off on the flight deck with the pilots.  
This is extraordinary, beyond my wildest expectations.  

Everything is at a feverish pitch. I run out of time to complete my 
baseline measurements and am quickly ushered forward to the flight 
deck where we are quickly seated, buckled in and our headphones are 
adjusted so we can listen to the tower as well as the pilots. The 
pilots quickly and professionally go through a checklist and start the 
engines. Everything is done in a relaxed, light manner but without any 
wasted motion. After checking the control surfaces and getting a go-
ahead from the flagman we begin to taxi, and taxi and taxi some more.   
Finally  we turn off the taxiway and stop. After what seemed a long 
wait I hear the tower "NASA 714 Heavy Jack, you are cleared for 
take-off on runway 8 south." Soon we pull onto the runway and 
immediately the engines ramp up to full scream and we are hurtling 
down the runway. The time is 9:15 pm, 5 minutes ahead of schedule.  
As we quickly pull up, all of the lights of Honolulu and Waikiki are 
spread beneath us. We bank right (south, out to sea) and Jean and I are 
craning our necks to see the cities. Shortly, I look the other way and 
suddenly notice the full moon above us and it is circled by a delicate  
pale ice-ring and surrounded by stars. In spite of the moon, the stars 
are sharper, brighter, and more beautiful than I have ever seen them 
before. This is understandable but none the less surprising and 

Soon we run out of lights and I am feeling the need to start taking 
data so Jean and I return to the main cabin with the Investigators. I 
quickly set up the CCRT and begin to take data. Wow! I am 
overwhelmed by the rate at which the counter is saturated.  
Immediately I suspect damage or misadjustment. I recheck all 
connections and voltages, and observe the instrument's operation. It 
becomes clear that the equipment is operating perfectly. It is just 
that the intensity is much higher than I expected. My heart falls back 
out of my throat and I quickly rethink my data collection plans.  
Instead of integrating and counting for 30 minutes, I decide to simply 
measure the time needed to fill the counter (256 counts).
Meanwhile, the Investigators are also having problems. They aren't 
getting the signal they expected. First, there is still a little high 
level water vapor above us at 37000 ft that is probably absorbing 
much of the signal. Second, they are unsure that the telescope is 
tracking on the correct object. Third, the detectors are undergoing 
some sort of unexpected oscillation and may not be calibrated properly.

After carefully eliminating each factor, performing a myriad of tests, 
the investigators become convinced that the expected signatures of  
ionized oxygen and carbon are either not present or are much weaker 
than expected. Only later analysis will tell for sure. This may have 
direct consequences on current theories of stellar and galactic 
evolution. In any case it will strongly affect one researcher's 
doctoral thesis and he is quite sober and thoughtful after this.
Most of the mission their data collection is a repeating series of:  
acquire new object, select filter and wavelength, integrate (while 
chopping), nod, store data, and repeat. Since the signal is always so 
weak compared to the background the optics are set up such that the 
Infra-red detectors are rapidly "chopped" back and forth between 
receiving light from the object and a patch of empty sky next to it.  
This allows the tiny signal to be distinguished accurately from the 
overwhelming noise or background. However, because the background 
at the nearby patch is not necessarily exactly the same as at the 
object itself, the whole telescope is "nodded" over so that the 
chopping is now done between the object and a patch of empty sky on 
the opposite side of the object. The assumption is that as long as the 
background varies linearly, then this will most accurately eliminate 

Sunday, August 6, 1995 (midnight)
The night quickly settles into a pattern, shifting between my data 
collection and watching theirs. With 8 investigators on board, the 
chatter over the intercom is hard to follow. Since the noise level of 
the aircraft is extremely high, it was necessary that each of us wear 
headphones to block out the noise and to allow us to listen to the 
intercom system. Each of us has a microphone. But since there was 
only one intercom channel, I leave my mic off most of the time so that 
I don't interfere with the investigators.  

As the investigators settle into a routine they invite Jean and I to 
participate in their data collection. We are assigned the duty of 
monitoring the strip chart recorder and making notations upon it. This 
provides a sort of log of what was done throughout the mission and is 
the key to identifying the appropriate data that is being recorded 
simultaneously on mag tape.  At this time we get the opportunity to 
ask a lot of questions about the meaning of all the displays, how the 
equipment works, and what the results probably mean.  The intercom 
system is disconcerting to use since there is no clue to who is talking.   
Someone could be at my shoulder, talking directly at me and he would 
sound just like someone in the rear of the plane talking to someone 
completely different.

The crew this mission consists of: a pilot, co-pilot, & flight engineer 
on the flight deck.  A mission director, telescope operator, tracker, 
computer operator, 8 investigators, 4 observers from FOSTER, and one 
equipment engineer. Twenty people in total. A full house.  
The 8 investigators consisted of two teams plus NASA co-
investigators.  The first team was made up of Ed Churchwell, a 
professor at the University of Wisconsin, and his grad. student, 
Andrew Afflerback, who's doctoral thesis is based on this research.  
The second team consists of Alex Rudolf, a professor at Harvey Mudd 
College; and his under-grad students, Travis Norsen and Nemo 
Nicholas. Both teams are supported by NASA scientists, Ed Erickson, 
Mike Haas, & Sean Colgan.

The FOSTER team consists of Edna DeVore, a teacher employed by the 
SETI institute to coordinate this project; Steve Cox, an observer from 
Rotary, our sponsor; Jean Roberts & I.

As time passes, the plane uses enough fuel that we can change our 
flight level in steps from 37,000 ft to 39,000 ft and finally to 41,000 
ft. This gives me the opportunity to get good data at three different 
altitudes. This leaves me nothing, however, for intermediate 
altitudes. Near the end of the mission, I prepare to take continuous 
measurements during our descent for as long as I can. However, the 
investigators need every last second they can get on the last 
calibration leg and when the pilots start our descent it is sudden and 
steep. They immediately require me to shutdown and buckle in. Oh well!

Fifteen minutes later (4:50 am) we are on the ground, parked, power 
off, and unloading. I intended to take some more baseline 
measurements, but normal procedures have turned off all power and 
everyone is speedily packing up and leaving. The 7 hour flight 
throughout the night has been exciting and has gone fast. But, I am 
quickly coming down and feeling fatigue overwhelm me also.
We quickly return to the hotel, I barely take a shower and quickly fall 
asleep and sleep till noon. My internal clock is thoroughly confused by 
the time zone change as well as my odd hours of late.
After I recover a little, Judy and I have a day to be tourists and take 
in a Polynesian magic show, an excellent dinner and the Polynesian 
cultural center.  Wonderful choices, it was marvelous.

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