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Senator visits Baylor, TSTC space facility

Oct. 3, 2000

By ALANA LYONS

Reporter

U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm toured the Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics and Engineering Research (CASPER) Sunday. The space science lab, located at Texas State Technical College, is a partnership between Baylor and TSTC.

Through the program, Baylor and TSTC students and faculty conduct research on hypervelocity impact resistance systems. By studying the damage that dust particles have on satellites in space, the team can find ways to shield the satellites and improve communications.

Gramm expressed his support of CASPER and the research it will bring forth.

'We are more dependent on satellites than any other country in the world,' Gramm said. 'Anything we can do to make them last longer will improve the quality of living for those who use them.'

Gramm said the United States plans to launch 1,800 satellites in the near future, and he is in favor of any research that would make them last longer.

President Robert B. Sloan Jr., TSTC President Martha Ellis and Dr. Truell Hyde, CASPER director and associate professor of physics, accompanied Gramm on the tour.

'This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the collaboration,' Sloan said. 'CASPER is not only a remarkable learning experience but an inspiration for careers in science.'

CASPER specializes in three areas of research - the Astrophysics and Space Science Theory Group, the Hypervelocity Impacts and Dusty Plasmas Lab and the Space Science Lab.

Members of the theory group work out of Baylor's physics department, and two experimental groups work at the TSTC lab.

'Combining the resources of Baylor and TSTC allows CASPER project team members from both schools to participate in research that would not be possible otherwise,' Hyde said.

This semester's team is composed of a variety of researchers, including five TSTC students and 10 Baylor students with majors ranging from computer science to Laser-Electro-Optics.

'As a physics major, I was interested in the space aspect of the project,' Troy Henderson, a Huntsville senior, said. 'Over the summer we worked on hypervelocity experiments at TSTC for up to eight hours a day.'

Working with middle school teachers, last year's CASPER team developed a Physics Circus designed to provide seventh grade students with a fun introduction to science.

Over 1,000 students from Waco and Killeen schools are expected to attend the second circus next month.

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