Science Research

A plume of steam signals a successful start of the J-2X rocket engine on the A-2 Test Stand at Stennis on July 26, 2011. The 3.7-second firing was one in a series of scheduled tests on the next-generation engine, which is being developed for NASA by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.

Stennis also is a frontline NASA facility for Earth science research, providing invaluable assistance to a range of Gulf of Mexico groups and efforts. The NASA Applied Sciences Program created the Gulf of Mexico Initiative in 2007 “to enhance the region’s ability to recover from the devastating hurricanes of 2005 and to address its coastal management issues going into the future.” The initiative utilizes NASA Earth science assets to address regional priorities defined by the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, a partnership of the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and 13 federal agencies focused on enhancing the ecological and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico.

Stennis’ Applied Science and Technology Project Office (ASTPO) manages the Gulf of Mexico Initiative for the Applied Sciences Program. The organization focuses on transferring results of NASA’s Earth science research projects from the lab into the real world. ASTPO works with partners to demonstrate how NASA’s Earth science assets can address societal issues. Using expertise in the fields of remote sensing, oceanography, coastal processes, signal processing, and mathematical modeling, efforts are directed at addressing such issues as water quality for healthy beaches and shellfish beds, wetland and coastal conservation and restoration, environmental education, identification and characterization of gulf habitats, reducing nutrient inputs to coastal ecosystems, and coastal community resilience.

Stennis also has focused on green technologies, evidenced on one front by exceeding the federal energy intensity reduction requirement for two consecutive years. In 2010, it was the only NASA facility to exceed the target of a 15 percent reduction in energy use, recording a 19.4 percent drop.

Construction of the INFINITY at Stennis continues, with a scheduled opening set for 2012. The 72,000- square-foot center will feature science and Earth galleries to showcase the science that underpins missions of the resident agencies at Stennis.

A prime example of the Stennis work is found in the center’s research regarding water hyacinths, long viewed as a prolific, virtually indestructible threat to the vitality of rivers and streams. However, Stennis researchers have identified a beneficial side to the plant: to absorb and digest wastewater pollutants and convert sewage flows into relatively clean water. Through research begun in 1975 and performed at the Stennis sewage lagoon, researchers are helping communities put water hyacinths to productive community use.

Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Stennis partnered with an outside company through NASA’s Innovation Partnerships Program to develop a state-of-the-art Realtime Emergency Action Coordination Tool (REACT). The system incorporates maps, reports, Internet-driven data and real-time sensor input into a geographical information system (GIS)-based display to provide organizations and officials with comprehensive information during emergency and disaster situations. The REACT system has proven so effective that it has been adopted in all NASA centers and by various communities in the Louisiana-Mississippi region.

Beginning in 2012, such cutting-edge expertise and technology by Stennis researchers and engineers will be on full display in the science and education facility under construction at the Interstate 10 exit leading to Stennis. The 72,000-square-foot INFINITY at NASA Stennis Space Center will feature space and Earth galleries to showcase the science and technology that underpins missions of the agencies at Stennis.

More Information

For information about Stennis Space Center, visit www.nasa.gov/centers/stennis.

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