Sen. Phil Gramm Plans Visit To Baylor/TSTC CASPER Science Lab Oct. 1

Sept. 29, 2000

by LoAna Lopez

U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm will tour the Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics and Engineering Research (CASPER), one of the most prominent partnerships between Baylor University and Texas State Technical College, at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1, in the Space Science Lab facilities on the TSTC campus.

A news conference and tour will be held on the second floor of the laboratory which is located at 607 Operations Dr., next to the air traffic control tower. Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr., TSTC President Martha Ellis and Dr. Truell Hyde, CASPER director and associate professor of physics and director of graduate studies at Baylor, will accompany Gramm on the tour of the research facility.

Through the CASPER partnership, Baylor and TSTC students and faculty are conducting research on a hypervelocity impact resistance system. By studying the effects of microscopic space particles that collide with orbiting satellites at high rates of speed, their research could then lead to the creation of protective shields for such satellites, keeping them operational for longer periods of time.

"In the same way that railroads and telegraph lines became vital in the last century, technology in orbit has become the infrastructure of the new economy," Gramm said. "Satellite-borne communications help drive economic expansion in the information age, so it's imperative to find out how to protect them and get the most benefit possible from them."

CASPER consists of a theory group and two experimental labs which specialize in various areas of research: the Astrophysics and Space Science Theory Group (ASSTG), the Hypervelocity Impacts and Dusty Plasmas Lab (HIDPL) and the Space Science Lab (SSL). Both CASPER hypervelocity and space science labs are located in separate buildings on the TSTC campus, with the hypervelocity lab having recently undergone major renovations to meet specific power and cooling requirements. Theory group participants work out of the physics department on the Baylor campus, while experimental group members work at TSTC with technical support provided by TSTC faculty and students.

Hyde said the center marks an exciting move for cooperative ventures between Baylor and TSTC.

"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," he said. "It's truly a win-win situation for both of us."

For more information about CASPER, contact Hyde at (254) 710-6767 or Carliss Hyde, director of external resource development at TSTC, at (254) 867-4843. Further information about CASPER is available at www.baylor.edu/~CASPER/ .

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