Morteza Gharib, Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Bioinspired Engineering, and colleagues are studying the properties of the zebrafish embryonic heart to address problems as diverse as ringing in the ears and overheated electronics. They have also developed the first pump built entirely from biological building blocks. “We can actually be more clever than nature,” Gharib says. “We can get inspired by nature and use engineering to come up with better functions. Just look at 747s—they fly from LAX to La Guardia much more efficiently than any bird could.” [E&S Article]
Chiara Daraio, Professor of Aeronautics and Applied Physics, has been named the 2012 Journal of Strain Analysis (JSA) Young Investigator Lecturer by the Society for Experimental Mechanics (SEM). This award recognizes an SEM member in early to mid-career who demonstrates considerable potential in the field of experimental mechanics. The selection is a public statement by their professional peers of the quality and impact of the contributions that they have made thus far in their career.
Alumnus David W. Thompson (M.S. '78) who is also the co-founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Orbital Sciences Corporation is the 2011 recipient of the prestigious International von Kármán Wings Award. He was honored for his leadership of Orbital over the past three decades, which has pioneered new classes of rockets and satellites that have helped to make space applications more affordable and accessible to people and enterprises around the world. The von Kármán Wings Award acknowledges outstanding contributions by international innovators, leaders, and pioneers in aerospace and is presented by the Aerospace Historical Society, which is part of the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories at Caltech (GALCIT). [Orbital Press Release]
The Caltech Space Challenge was a Keck Institute for Space Studies workshop led by Aerospace graduate students Prakhar Mehrotra and Jon Mihaly. It brought together two teams of students from around the world to develop plans for deep-space missions that could carry humans to an asteroid and back. Both teams planned missions to an asteroid known as 1999 AO10, which is between 45 and 100 meters in length and is thought to have a relatively slow spin rate. Since relatively little is known about this asteroid, both teams called for robotic precursor missions that could gather information needed to help plan the later human mission. The competing mission descriptions, from Team Explorer and Team Voyager, were so evenly matched that the jurors had to use three different judging methods to finally settle on a winner. In the end, the victory and shiny new iPads went to Team Voyager. [Caltech Feature] [NPR Broadcast]