Transcript for NASA Connect - Measurement, Ratios, and Graphing: Safety First


[inaudible] and we at 3LW, which
stands for three little women,

we are recording our disk
today on MTV's Sierra Tour.

On today's NASA Connect you and
our NASA engineers are working hard

to make sure that airplane pilots,
air passengers remains safe at


You will visit a virtual
facility designed to test ways

to solve potential air and
ground traffic problems

at our nation's airports.

You'll observe NASA engineers and
researchers using math, science

and technology to solve
the every day problems.

In your classroom see what it takes
to be an air traffic controller,

it's a very stressful job.

You will also use computer
technology to navigate

through several things as
other flight from San Francisco

to New York, so stay tuned
as Dan and Jennifer take you

on the another exciting
episode of NASA Connect.

[ Music ]

[Jennifer:] Hi!

We are heading to San
Francisco international airport.

[Airline Staff:] Great let me check
you both in and tag your bags

[inaudible] with you.

[Dan:] Hi!

Welcome to NASA Connect; the
show that connects you to math,

science, technology and NASA.

I'm Dan Gerro.

[Jennifer:] And I'm
Jennifer Pulley.

Now before we start the show
there are few things you

and your teacher need to know.

First teachers, make sure
you have the lesson guide

for today's program.

It can be downloaded from
our NASA Connect website,

in it you will find a great
map based hands on activity

and a description

of our instructional
technology components.

[Dan:] Kids, you want to
keep your eyes on Norbet

because every time it appears
with questions like this.

[inaudible] from the lesson
guidance your brain ready

to answer the questions
we give you.

[Jennifer:] All ancestors if
you are watching a tape version

of this program every
time you see Norbet

with the remote that's your
queue to pause the video tape

and discuss the cue card question.

[Dan:]For today's show Jennifer
and I are flying to California

to learn how the people
get airplanes,

[inaudible] airports, pilots
and NASA for the safety first?

[Jennifer:] That's right and you
know almost two million people like

us travel by airplane every day.

Air traveling insist to
the rest of the world

and usually we don't pay much
attention to how it works

or who makes it work,
like with millions

of people flying airplanes, pilots
and airports have to be saved.

Just who regulates the safety of
airplanes, pilots and airports.

[Dan:] The FAA, our Federal
Aviations Administration.

Their primary responsibility
is maintaining the safety

of public aviation.

The FAA develops air traffics
rules, operates airport towers

and air traffic control centers

and encourages new
aviations technology,

some of which is being
developed by NASA.

We will see some of
those technologies later.

[Jennifer:] You know right now

as we board the airport's control
tower has received a pilot's flight

plan and will soon be directing our
airplane as a taxi sort of runway.

[Dan:] Hey, there is
the control tower.

Right now in that tower people are
observing us and other airplanes

to make sure every thing
runs on safely on the ground.

[Jennifer:] Meanwhile
inside the plane we have our

seat-belts fastened.

Shh -- silence while the
flight attendant gives us

safety procedures.

[Dan:] Just like pilots
and the people

in airport tower have safety rules,

passengers like us
can make sure we are

at safest possible on the airplane.

For example --

[Flight Attendant:] Excuse
me sir, you gonna have

to turn off cell phone
and computer.

[Dan:] They can interfere with the
airplane's communications systems.

[Jennifer:] Well, now
we are at Airborne,

will be in tract on Radar.

Soon our airport tower hands us off
to an air traffic control center.

Here are twenty-one of these
centers in the United States

and each center controls a
specific area of air space.

[Boy:] What is air space?

[Dan:] The space where
aircraft fly.

[Dan:] This control centers
communicated with pilots

and safely direct all airplanes
to into their air space.

When you consider all the airplanes

that fly everyday,
that's a huge job.

[Jennifer:] During our
fly, we were passed

through about six
different air spaces.

And as we passed through
each one, we're monitored

by Air Traffic Control Centre.

[Dan:] Each center gives that
pilot information about weather,

air traffic around us, and it
helps us navigate to best route.

You know I hope that pilot
take us over Colorado.

I would love to see it from here.

Hey, moving next by NASA Connect
will give us our own private jet.

And then we could --

[Jennifer:] Right Dan.

Until then fly in


You know no matter what
route we take our pilot

and the control center

on the ground are making sure
we are safe in the skies.

[Flight Attendant:] Do you
like something to drink?

[Dan:] Ah, yes, thanks,
water would be great.

[Flight Attendant:] Thank you.

[Dan:] Thank you.

Speaking a safety, we went earlier,
but the FAA is all research

for new technologies
and ways to maintain

and improve the safety
of air travel.

That's where NASA comes in.

Jennifer and I recently visited
the NASA Langley Research Center

at Hampton Virginia, to learn

about NASA's aviation safety
program in the math, science

and technology that used
in the everyday work.

[ Music ]

[3LW:] How the NASA contribute
to airplane safety in the future?

How do the NASA engineers use
math in the wind tunnel test?

What happens to an airplane when
the angle of tack becomes to great?

[John:] NASA's Aviation Safety
Program is designed to make sure

that airplane remaining
safe form of transportation

[inaudible] air travelers.

Many pilots and engineers
like me are studying new ways

to prevent accidents
that are occurring.

We are also looking at ways to
provide new ideas and technologies

to airplane manufactures
in airline,

so they can keep our sky safe.

[Dan:] Well, isn't
flying already safe?

[John:] Absolutely, Dan.

Flying is the safest
mode of transportation

and passenger's safety is the
most important requirement

for our travel.

But you see within the next ten
years it is expected that approx

to three million people
will be flying everyday.

That's about one million
more than today.

With these numbers more
airplanes will be flying

in our skies in many parts of

[inaudible] conditions.

NASA is looking to make sure
that even with that entries

of air traffic, airplanes
will remain a safe

and efficient way
for people to travel.

[Jennifer:] Well,
how do you do that?

[John:] One way is to make sure

that all airline pilots
have the necessary training

to maintain control
of their airplane

and safely maneuver them
during all flight conditions.

It's my job to predict how our
airplanes can be controlled

in these different conditions.

[Dan:] How can you predict
when airplane will do?

[John:] We use a wind tunnel
and model of an airplane.

A wind tunnel is a facility
that blows air over a model

at different speeds and angles

to simulate the airplane
flying through the air.

You see testing, full sized
airplanes, is too expensive.

So we use scale model.

This model was 1/30 of the
size of the real airplane.

[Jennifer:] 1/30!

Hey that's a ratio.

A ratio is a fraction
used to compare the size

of two numbers to each other.

The ratio 1/30th means that this
model is about 30 times smaller

than the real airplane, right John?

[John:] That's right Jennifer.

And we use a wind tunnel to
test the model and conditions

that are too dangerous to
test on the real airplane.

When we run the Wind tunnel

at different air speeds we move
the model, so that the wind hits it

at various angles, like this.

One very important angle we look
at, is called the angle of attack.

Let me explain.

When an airplane is flying
through the air, the combination

of air speed and the angle
of attack produces lift.

A force which holds the
aeroplane in the air.

In normal flight as the angle

of attack becomes greater
the lift increases.

If you have ever held your hand
out of the window of a moving car,

you can feel this lift
as you move your hand.

However, if the angle of attack
becomes too great the air no longer

flow smoothly over the wing
causing a condition known

as aerodynamic stall and
the lift will decrease.

However this flight
condition rarely occurs,

the airplanes controls
may not be affective

and the pilot may not be able
safely maneuver the airplane.

[Jennifer:] But John
how do you know

that the real airplane is
going behave the same way

that the model does
in the wind tunnel?

[John:] Great question, we use math

to predict how the real
airplane will behave

under the same conditions
tested in the wind tunnel.

Let me show you.

During wind tunnel testing a
computer system electronically

measures the lift.

The computer also determines
the speed of the moving air,

the density of the air and the
area of the air planes wing.

Using this ratio we can compute
the lift coefficient a number

that tells engineers like me
how the state of the model,

position of the model and the air
flow around the model affect lift.

Next we create a graph that
allows us to see the relationship

between a lift co-efficient
and the angle

of attack we have
simulated in the tunnel.

Because this graph is a
same for both the model

and full size airplane,

we can predict how the
real airplane will fly.

So let's put the data on
the graph and interpret it.

During normal flight conditions
the lift coefficient increases

as the angle of attack increases.

The pilot should have no
trouble controlling the plane;

however if the angle of attack
becomes so great if stall occurs,

the lift coefficient decreases

and the airplane may be
difficult to control.

From this graph we can determine
how the airplane will respond

in different flight conditions.

Knowing this information
allows us to find ways

to help pilots prevents avoid
entering unsafe conditions

and to make the airplane
easier to fly.

[Jennifer:] So once
you've tested the model

and determined how the
real plane will behave,

how do you make sure the pilots
are trained in these situations?

[John:] Today's airline pilots
are highly trained using very

sophisticated devices known
as 'Flight simulators'.

The simulator looks and feels just
like a real airplane from take off

through landing and
it allows pilots

to practice many different
flying procedures

that they may encounter
during a real fly.

All of the graphs created from
wind tunnel tests are given

to people whose job it
is to input this data

into the flight simulator making
pilots feel like they are flying

a real airplane.

The simulator is designed to
respond like the real airplane

that is accidentally in a
densely flight conditions;

like the once we have
tested in the wind tunnel.

Using simulators pilots are
specially trained in loss

of control and learnt how
to operate the airplane

under conditions that
would normally not be safe

in a real airplane.

This training will help to ensure

that air travels remains
safe for every one.

In fact many of today's
students who are interested

in becoming airline pilots
will be trained in simulators

to use the research we are
conducting here at NASA.

The goal of NASA's aviation safety
program is to prevent accidents

from occurring and for
all future air travelers

to know they will safely
reach their destination.

[Jennifer:] Thanks John,
you know it's really--

[Dan:] Hey Jen check it out.

It's Colorado.

[Jennifer:] Its sure its Dan, and
like I was saying its really cool

that how NASA's testing
models in wind tunnels

and then using technology
to help pilots fly safely

and speaking of technology.

Dan didn't you find a really
cool CD that takes you

on a airplanes journey
from gate-to-gate.

[Dan:] I sure did, this CD Rom
lets you meet some of the people

who operate the air
traffic control system.

Join me next in Dan's Domain and
I'll show some of tools they use.

Welcome to my Domain here for
I will introduce you to some

of the coolest stuff that will
help you better understand,

the topics covered in our show.

First you need to know
how to get to Dan's Domain

from the NASA Connect website.

Just click here to enter,
you will find a link

to the shows instructional
technology activity.

There is also a zone especially
for teachers and a career zone

so you can meet some
of our program guests

and learn about their jobs.

Oh! Yeah, there is a page that
gives links to the other new sites

that relate to the show.

Now for the good stuff,
it's a CD produced by NASA

and the Federal Aviation

that will introduce you to our air
traffic control system and some

of the tools they use everyday.

It's called gate-to-gate.

Speaking of air traffic control
let's visit Air Venture in

[inaudible] Wisconsin.

It's the largest air
show in the world

and each summer it also becomes
the busiest airport in the world.

Here we'll work with
student ambassadors

from the American institute
of Aeronautics and Astronauts.

They are a group of high-school
students from around the world,

who are participating
in an array of aerospace

and educational activities
designed to energize

and excite them about
careers in aerospace.

Start your journey by clicking
the pre-flight airplane icon

at the bottom of the radar scope,
right clicking on the airplanes

around the scope, you
will navigate a flight

from San Francisco to New York,
beginning at the pre-flight

and going around the scope
ending with the landing.

NASA and research
centre and collaboration

with the FAA is developing
sophisticated software tools

and procedures to help air traffic
controllers manage air traffic more

safely and efficiently through
out all of phases of flight.

This CD will demonstrate how some

of these new tools
fit into the system.

We go to the career zone in Dan's
Domain you'll meet some more

of our program partners.

That's it for now, but I will back
at end of the student activity,

let's you on a new technology
partnership NASA Connect us

with Riverdale interactive
learning, see you then.

[Jennifer:] Hey Dan we
are getting ready to land.

You know airplanes arrive from
several different directions

and the air traffic control centre
has to merge all those planes

into a single file line.

Making sure there is a safe
distance between each plane.

[Dan:] Right and since air traffic
can sometimes arrive like rush hour

traffic on a highway.

Pilots may have to make
adjustments in their flight plans,

change the speed or altitude
or go into a holding pattern.

So all these adjustments may cause
delays, however safety comes first.

[Jennifer:] That's right, when we
are about six to eighteen kilometer

from the airport the air traffic
control centre hands us off

to the San Francisco
airport control tower.

Tower controllers there
relay current weather

and air traffic information
to our pilot.

[Dan:] Wow what a ride.

Hey, this is the control tower.

I wonder what they
are doing in there.

[Jennifer:] Let me tell you,
now that we have landed,

controllers in the tower tell
our pilot which taxi ways to use

and where we can park.

You know we are not completely
safe until we park at the gate

and our pilot has turned off
the fasten your seat belt sign.

[Jennifer & Dan] San
Francisco, Here we come.

[ Music ]

[Jennifer:] While, NASA's aviation
safety program is helping pilots

maintain high levels
of safety in our skies.

NASA is also working to help
airports operate more safely

and efficiently.

As airplane traffic increases
in our skies, the possibility

for more accidents or incidents
also increases on the ground.

[Dan:] Right.

How would that flight simulator
to simulate conditions in the air.

But what about people in
control towers who monitor

and direct take offs and landings?

[Jennifer:] Yeah I mean could all
the people that guide airplanes

to the ground, like pilots,
air traffic controllers

and airport operators work
together and try out new ways

to safely move planes
around an airport.

[Dan:] NASA believe they could

so a unique facility was
built right here in California

to help solve present and future
problems of our nation's airport.

It's called NASA future
flight sensor.

[Jennifer:] And to
learn more we came here

to NASA Aims research centre
in Muffetfield California.

[ Music ]

Why was NASA future
flight center built?

How does NASA use technology
to simulate airports?

Analyzing the graph, what passage
do you think influenced the air

traffic controller at Wisconsin?

[Nancy:] NASA future flight
central is a two story facility

with the 360 degrees view.

It's capable of doing a full scale
real time simulation of an airport.

It's where air traffic
controllers, pilots,

and the airport personnel
can interact with each other

and test out new technologies.

As you can see, this is designed

to look very much like a real
air traffic control tower.

The downstairs rooms
points to simulation,

we bring in real air
traffic controllers.

They wear head sets and
communicate with the pilots,

giving them permission to
taxi, take-off and land.

At the same time, they also
scan the runways and taxiways

to make sure that all the
airplanes are maintaining a safe

distance from each other.

Just as you do while
driving an automobile.

[Dan:] How do you make this tower
in these planes look so real?

[Nancy:] With the super computer.

We create a virtual airport
environment, which means it is made

to look very realistic when
compared to an actual airport.

We do this by using satellite
imagery, aerial surveys

and digital photography.

Simulation software allows us

to move two-hundred vehicles like
airplanes, or ground trucks all

at the same time at
realistic speeds.

We can simulate a variety

of weather conditions like
dense fog, rain or snow.

We can also place numerous
planes on the runway.

That needs to move all
at once making the test

as realistic as possible.

For example an airplane can be
placed where it shouldn't be

and the air traffic controllers
have to try to safely get the plane

out of the way to
avoid a collision.

[Jennifer:] Nancy that is so cool.

It sounds like NASA future
flights central simulates many

of the conditions that happened
at our nation's airports.

[Nancy:] That's right.

Not only at our facility can
we duplicate a real airport

and operate it as it runs day.

But we can also make changes and
see if we can make things safer.

For example we conducted a study

of San Francisco International

currently the airport is
conducting an environmental review

to assess the possibility
of building new runways.

Because of space limitations
these new runways would be built

out into San Francisco bay.

This could possibly
cause the airport

to relocate its control tower.

Using our facility we simulated
the San Francisco Airport

and built the new runways.

Then for each proposed location
of the tower we moved some planes

down the runway and
watched the view

with our future flight sample the
airport might move its territory

location when blocked
used and wouldn't be able

to operate the airport safely.

[Dan:] Has NASA used this facility
to simulate any other airports?

[Nancy:] We sure have.

Recently NASA did a study of the
Los Angeles International Airport

or in the airport turns LAX.

Our goal was to simulate a
realistic operating environment,

that was as close as possible

to what the LAX Air traffic
controllers experienced every day

in the tower.

This study was different from the
one on the San Francisco Airport

because before we could simulate
any changes to LAX we had

to first make sure that we
could realistically simulate one

of the busiest airports
in the world.

[Dan:] So how did you
determine if the simulation was

as realistic as the real LAX.

[Nancy:] Just like you
do in math class Dan.

First we collected data from
the air traffic controllers

using questionnaires.

Using the data we created and
interpreted graphs to determine

if we accomplished our goal.

There were many factors involved

in determining whether our
simulation was realistic.

Let me show you one of
the graphs we created.

The title of the graph
is realism ratings

for LAX air traffic controllers.

This graph tells us how the
real LAX controllers rated

our simulation.

[Jennifer:] Okay let's see.

Along the bottom are
ratings from one to five.

With one being not at all realistic
and five being identical to LAX.

Nancy what is a ground
air traffic controller

and a local air traffic controller?

[Nancy:] A ground
controller is responsible

for airplanes on the ground.

Leaving the gate and taxing
to the runway for example.

A local controller issues take offs

and landings maintains a safe
distance between arriving

and departing aircraft and is
responsible for controlling flights

up to 16 kilometers from the tower.

Let's put the data on the graph.

As you can see from the data
we collected both the ground

and local controllers believe
that our simulations of airplanes

on the ground and in
the sky there are goal

of being realistic compared to LAX.

In fact, the data shows
that we exceeded our goal

and we were very realistic
compared to LAX.

Just as John collected data to
help train pilots for safety,

future flight central will
realistically simulate our

nation's airports.

So they can continue to
run smoothly and safely.

[Dan:] Nancy that's amazing that
NASA realistically simulated one

of the world's busiest airports.

So what's next?

[Nancy:] The next step will
be to determine what will

and what will not work when
proposed changes are made

to the LAX operating environment.

Because future flights
central is a safe place to try

out new airport procedures both
time and money will be saved

as LAX continues to
put safety first.

[Jennifer:] Thanks Nancy.

Okay so far on today's
show Dan and I have fly

from Virginia all
the way to California

and during this flight we learnt
how NASA wind tunnel tests are

helping trained pilots
to be even safer.

[Dan:] We also learnt our
airplanes and passengers get

from gate-to-gate and
how NASA uses simulations

to make airports safer.

[Jennifer:] So do you
have what it takes

to be an air traffic controller?

See if you can safely and
efficiently land airplanes

at Norbert international airport.

NASA Connect travels South from San
Francisco to Long Beach California

for today's hands on activity.

[Student 1:] Hi!

We are from the Boeing
Summer Science Camp.

[Student 2:] NASA Connect
asked us to help you guys.

How did that the shows
hands on activity?

[Student 3:] It's
called in a safety zone.

[Student 2:] Here are the
main objectives of this game.

We plot initial aircraft
coordinates using a rectangular

coordinate system in which
measurement tools and techniques

to determine distance.

We apply ratios to calculate
the air safety travel index.

We calculate initial aircraft
distance versus actual air

craft distance traveled.

In your working team you
solve problems related

to your own air traffic
control challenges.

The game for analysis the
materials you need are included

in the lesson guide, which
your teacher can download

from the NASA Connect website.

The class will be divided
into groups of four.

Each group will get a flight plan

to record the landing
times a tracking chart

to chart the progress
of the assigned planes.

A safety rating card to keep
track of the total points earned

and the game constraint card.

More about this later.

Each student or air
traffic controller

in a group will be responsible
for three aircrafts and one

of the quadrants on the game board.

Your primary goal is to land
each aircraft safely and on time.

Now lets get started, using the
initial aircraft flight coordinates

provided in the flight plan,
plot the starting position

for each aircraft
from the game board.

Use a pen along with
a correct aircraft cut

out to mark each starting point.

Record a flight number, aircraft
type and runway information

on the tracking chart.

Choose a colored pencil and
color each designated aircraft

to ensure correct tracking.

Now measure and calculate the
direct distance in kilometers

from the assigned aircraft

to the airport using the
scale 2 cm to 5 kilometers.

Record the information
on the tracking chart.

For each minute of flight our
aircraft must make one move,

one move corresponds to 2
cm when you travel 5 km.

Use your metric ruler to
verify 2 cm of movement.

Aircraft cannot move backwards
on any consecutive move.

During each minute of flight
each ATC must keep track of his

or her aircrafts flight
paths, using a color pencil

and metric ruler after all paths
have been updated place the check

mark on the tracking chart
indicating completion

of your aircrafts move.

Check the game constraint
card for landing guidelines,

study the flight plan,

particularly arrival times
and runway locations.

The game first see that your
teacher follows a script

which indicates when to move
and when conditions change.

When you finish playing the game
calculate your score using the

instructions and the lesson guide.

Now you are ready to determine
the air safety travel index

by calculating the
percentage using the ratio

of team points divided
by total possible points.

Complete the tracking chart

by calculating the actual
linear distance traveled

from the aircraft's initial
co-ordinates to the airport.

By using this equation
calculate the difference

and direct distance
traveled versus the actual

distance traveled.

Your teacher will conclude the game

by discussing some
questions with you.

So you can apply what you
have learnt during the game

to the actual job of an
air traffic controller.

[Jennifer:] All right.

You guys need to take look at
your air safety travel index.

It should be at about
a hundred percent.

If it's not at a hundred percent
there is probably a reason

for this.

Do you guys have any idea why it
wouldn't be at a hundred percent?

[Student 2:] Because my plane
had to fly around the mountains.

[Student 5:] Mine was late
because my runway was closed

for a few minutes.

[Student 1:] Special thanks to AIAA
chapter of Cal State University

of Long Beach and to Boeing Summer
Science Camp for their help.

[Dan:] Our newest
educational partnership is

with Riverdeep interactive

The folks at Riverdeep are
providing internet based lessons,

that will enhance the
math's skills to go along

with their NASA Connect shows.

Teachers, you can find a link
to show's web based activity

in Dan's Domain on a
NASA Connect website.

It's from Riverdeep's
destination math series.

It's a fine tutorial.

It guides you to the information
about co ordinate planes.

Here is a brief example.

Your mission is to explore
plotting point and working

with figures in a plain.

Hmm. Well we know that a
plane is a flat surface

that extends forever
in all directions.

Since this map represents
part of a plane then --

[Dan:] This will be a great
way to introduce the hands

on activity for the show.

However, we choose to use
it this web based component

of NASA Connect will give
your students a useful tool

for improving and
strengthening their math skills.

[ Music ]

[Dan:] Well that wraps up
another episode of NASA Connect.

We'd like to thank
everyone who helped

to make this program possible.

[Jennifer:] That's right and you
know Dan and I are waiting to hear

from you, with your comment your
questions, your suggestions.

So e-mail us at

Or pick up a pen and
write us at NASA Connect.

NASA Centre for distance learning.

NASA Langley Research Centre
Mail stop four hundred Hampton

Virginia 23681.

[Dan:] Teacher you look like
a video tape of this program

in the accompanying lesson guide,
check out the NASA Connect website.

From our side you can link

to the NASA Educator
Resource Centre Network.

These centers provide
educators free access

to NASA products like NASA Connect
or from our side you can write

to CORE the NASA Central Operation
of Resources for educators.

That's where you can get your
copy of the gate-to-gate CD-ROM.

[Jennifer:] So until next
time stay connected to math

[Dan:] Science

[Jennifer:] Technology

[Dan:] And NASA.

[Both:] See you then.

Bye from San Francisco.