SCF Students Prepare for Flight Aboard NASA's "Weightless Wonder"

(Bradenton, Fla., May 24, 2011) —State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota’s (SCF) MicroG Manatees Team will participate in NASA’s Reduced Gravity Education Flight Opportunities Program (RGEFOP) from June 16-24 at Johnson Space Center’s Ellington Field in Houston to conduct experiments aboard NASA’s “Weightless Wonder” aircraft.

SCF’s team is one of 14 teams from around the country participating in the program that gives undergraduate students the opportunity to propose, build and conduct a reduced gravity experiment. SCF students will study magnetic forces between dipoles and centripetal forces aboard a microgravity aircraft, which produces weightlessness 18 to 25 seconds at a time by executing a series of about 30 parabolas – a steep climb followed by a free fall – over the Gulf of Mexico. During the free falls, the students will be able to gather data in the unique environment and experience near weightlessness.

Participating MicroG Manatees team members include team leader James Mohan and flyers Brenan Flint, Joe Comer, Alexa La Motte, Mario Osborn, and Harrison Britt. Other nonflying team members are Adam Hogan and Andrew Moffatt. The team was selected based on scientific merit and educational outreach potential. They have put many hours into researching and building their experiment. They are also taking time to reach out to other students and the community to share their unique experiences and discoveries.

“We are excited that our program provides once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for aspiring scientists and engineers to study and understand their craft. The students gain useful skills by participating in the program through collaborative planning and teamwork,” said Doug Goforth, RGSFOP Program Manager.

SCF’s student team will arrive on June 16 at Ellington Field to do their training in a modified Boeing 727 aircraft. Students then will undergo physiological training and fly their experiment during the week of June 17 – June 24. Following the flight, the team will evaluate findings, draw conclusions and provide the results to NASA.

Karen Wetz, SCF physics professor, is the faculty advisor for the MicroG Manatees Team. The team’s trip is sponsored by SCF and NASA.

For more information about the Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program, visit the or contact Rachel Kraft at NASA Johnson Space Center’s Public Affairs Office at 281-792-7690 or by e-mail at

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