More Mapping – Mars! And Other Stuff

Hello hello!

I’m starting to run out of creative ways to start these entries. So let’s just dive right in, shall we?

Because I can.

Midterm season is upon us, and I’m pretty sure I escaped the first round unscathed. I had three exams in two days last week: Astronomy, Spaceflight Dynamics, and of course my open-everything Thermodynamics midterm. Which was pretty cool. Any exam that lets me google the answers on my cell phone is a winner in my book (in my defense, I knew the material and didn’t actually google anything.) For my astronomy exam I made 158 flashcards and studied like mad – it was weird for me to have an exam where you just had to know things and not do math. Haven’t had one of those for a while. Though my Software Engineering process exam on Monday will be like that – 12 essay questions, 3 hour midterm. Gotta love grad school….

A plot showing altitude above sea level and the corresponding vertical wind speed. This is for a location in the Andes Mountains, at 31.8º S latitude.

Enough about all that stuff, I have way more exciting things to talk about, such as my mastery of MATLAB’s mapping toolbox. Guys… I made Mars. I didn’t think it was even possible, but I actually got it to work! (Which is especially impressive considering I did so without access to any NASA databases – #penny4nasa) I managed to generate a full-world topographic plot of the Martian surface. I also finished a model which takes surface topography (mountains, etc.) and calculates the vertical wind forcing based on horizontal wind. It works on Earth, so now it’s time to see if we can get a plot for the area over Olympus Mons! This data is useful because vertical wind forcing generates gravity waves, if you remember that information from my first couple entries.

So as you can see I’ve been pretty busy (and successful, I might add) in classes and SPRL lately. Which is great – I will likely get to be a second author on a published paper! For my vertical wind forcing model; I’m super excited, and glad that I’m starting to make headway into real research.

MATLAB plot of Mars Topography! And no, the blue isn’t water – it’s just colorized based on altitude. Green is approx. sea level, blue is lower, and yellow is higher.

My boyfriend and I with The Pretty Reckless at the VIP meet and greet. Doing our best rock concert faces. (We are the two on the ends)

Besides doing awesome physics stuff and making bajillions of flashcards, I’ve been doing some fun stuff too. I got to go to another rock concert (it’s been a really good year, all my favorite bands are touring!) The band is called The Pretty Reckless, and if you haven’t heard of them I suggest you go check them out. They played at a little club in downtown Orlando called The Social, which was really great because it was such a small venue, I could literally reach out and grab the guy’s guitar if I had wanted to. And we had VIP passes so we got to do a meet and greet afterwards with the band!

The openers were great too, the first was Louna, and they are a band from Russia. In fact this is the first time in 20 years that a full Russian rock band is touring in the US. The second band was Heaven’s Basement from the UK; they were crazy. At one point the singer tried to do the thing where they walk out on the fans’ hands, and the security guy yelled and ran over and tried to pull him back by the ankles. Then he ran into the pit, grabbed him, threw him over his shoulder, and brought him back on stage. There was like a tug of war of this guy between the guard and the fans. I guess that club doesn’t allow crowd-walking. The singer was just in awe, it was hilarious.

Doing my #RLShrimpStache for Endless Shrimp. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m kinda crazy.

Other than that everything is about the same as it was last time I wrote. Still working my way though Breaking Bad (and trying to avoid spoilers!), enjoying my Pumpkin Pecan Waffles candle, and eating lots of shrimp at Red Lobster – we made sure to hit up Endless Shrimp one last time on Sunday (its last day). I’ve also been doing some scrapbooking… I’ll post some photos next week after I buy more photo corners.

Another cool thing to mention is that I was invited to join Tau Beta Pi, which is the National Engineering Honor Society. As a physics student and a member of the College of Arts and Sciences rather than College of Engineering, I didn’t think they would want me, but I suppose having “engineering” in the name of my major was good enough!

For my closing statement, I’m going to mention that I’m super bummed about NASA being all closed and stuff. So let’s hope the government gets rolling again so that they can get back to work! I’m really hoping their MAVEN mission to Mars doesn’t get affected too much. That launch is scheduled for November 18th and the window extends until December 7th – if they miss it, they can’t launch again for over two years! It’s really a bummer when the sciences get caught up in politics.

That’s all folks – until next time!

-Lynsey

December 1, 2008

Hello again, I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I know I did. I just got back from a wonderful 6 days off! I went to my roommate’s grandparent’s house for Thanksgiving in Ocala, FL. What a wonderful trip. The food was so amazing and they are pretty much like a second family to me. It was definitely a well-needed break. The week before Thanksgiving was extremely busy for me. But, weekend before full of studying and hard work really paid off. I got A’s on all of my papers, presentations, and tests! Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Just work hard, have fun, and anything is possible.

I now have 3 days left in the semester! Wow, all that is left between now and Christmas break is one test and one paper. Success!!! If I can recommend anything to you future college students, I would urge you to work extremely hard in the beginning of the semester. Therefore, the stress level is lower at the end. If you work hard at the beginning of the school year when you are extremely motivated, you can maintain a high grade point average before finals hit. As a result, you have a buffer for the extremely high workload at the end of the semester. This has worked extremely well for me. A lot of students get extremely stressed during finals. However, if you make a constant effort to succeed during the semester, you’ll be just fine. Don’t wait until the end to start cracking the books.

This will most likely be my last entry of the semester. After December 4th, I will be halfway through with my senior year. I’m so excited! I will then jump on a jet plane for Dallas, TX to see my family. I will be back at Embry-Riddle the 5th of January to finish up my last 4 classes. Wow, what an experience. I look forward to sharing my memories and experiences with you all next semester. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

November 18th, 2008

Hey guys!!!
It is FREEZING here!!!! Well for Florida it is freezing at least! I have had at least 3 layers on every day this week! AH!

My week this week began with a test at 8:00 am Monday consisting of a project, a physics test, a physics lab final, a weather test, a math test, and me trying very hard not to go insane!!! This week is also the first week flight team picks back up since Regionals, so that will be fun!!! I am excited to get back on top of things. If you all have read anything about our flight team published by people at the school, it is to their knowledge apparently that nationals are in San Jose in May, well they aren’t. They are actually in Saint Louis.

I don’t remember if I have mentioned it but there are some roommate problems within our suite… so one of the girls is moving out. Actually to my knowledge she was supposed to leave already but she’s not gone yet… I am not sure what the hold up is to tell you the truth. We thought everything would be fine and dandy after our first little meeting with the RA and RD but…. NOPE! It’s almost impossible not to have trouble with 8 girls in one room. A little life update as well… 6 of the 8 of us came here with boyfriends from home.. now 5 of the 8 of us have new boyfriends haha– and one of us is in the works of having a new one. My how things can change.

As stressful as things have gotten with classes and tests and all, I am still trying my hardest and won’t trade Riddle in for any other school. It’s amazing still!!!! Ohh yeah and the shuttle launch = AWESOME! Even though I have seen them before because I am from Florida.. they are still amazing every time you see them! Have a GREAT Thanksgiving!!! and I will be back in touch with you all after the break… when I have a major report due :-( AHHH
-Elizabeth

November 3rd, 2008

Hello again, it’s November! I can’t believe it, one more month and the fall semester is over. I’m a little sad that this is my last semester taking aviation related classes. I’m going to miss the enthusiasm from the teachers and their wonderful flying stories. This semester has truly been amazing.

Flight technique analysis has been a worthwhile class, and the best is yet to come! This week, we are starting the application part of the course. This is where crews of 5 people get together and simulate several situations using the Aerosim program. Aerosim is flight sim times a million. It is super accurate and realistic. The cockpit is an actual picture taken from a real 747-400 and every button and switch works just like the real one. The point of these sim sessions on the computer is to tie everything we have learned in my past 3 years at Riddle together. Every student has an opportunity to be in a pilot position, while the others play the role of air traffic control, dispatch, and the lead flight attendant. It should be a wonderful learning experience. The neat thing about the sim sessions is that it takes the place of a final exam. We are graded on how well we work as a crew, handle an emergency, and get 400 people on the ground safety in a timely manner. Where else can you say you played flight sim for a final? Truly awesome!

In flight management systems, we use the same Aerosim program used in flight technique, but we learn the specifics on how to use the automation. The first 3 tests were over how to properly fly the 747-400 using the autopilot. There was one written test, and two practical tests using the simulator. I love it! It is such a great learning environment to actually see how every thing works through Aerosim. Last week, we started to learn how to program the flight management system. This is the little computer that holds all of the information relating to the flight; truly the heart of any aircraft operation. I can’t wait to see just how much can be accomplished with this equipment!

Crew resource management is also way above my expectations for a college class. Last week, we had crew led discussions. This is where 3 students run the class and are in charge of starting a discussion on a specific topic. This was so much fun. Our topic was how time and task management is important in the cockpit. Because of the fact that I am a flight instructor, I talk in front of people everyday. Therefore, I love giving group presentations and leading the class. You learn so much from everyone when you lead a classroom discussion.

Last week I took my second test in flight safety. I have learned so much from this class. It is a perfect example of a class that is focused on the students learning as much as possible with out any tricks. The tests are straight forward and allow to you leave with knowledge that will stay with you forever.

Finally, I had my third test in airline dispatch last week. Whew, what an interesting one. It was over aircraft performance. I was given weather, an aircraft, weights of cargo and people, and a bunch of other information relating to the flight. From that, I had to determine how much fuel we needed on board, how much we could weigh at take-off and landing, climb data, etc. Tons of fun! It was an intense test, but I did really well. The reason I aced it was because of the performance class I took last year. This is a perfectly good example of how Riddle provides you with information that you will never forget. I didn’t do a performance problem for over a year, and I still remembered 75 percent of the information. I was truly shocked. I hardly had to study for this test because most of the knowledge was already in my head.

Finally, I just want to say just how much fun I’m having being a flight instructor. I flew every day last week at sunset! It was probably the most amazing week of flying in my life. The weather was clear skies and about 65 degrees. This proves that I truly love my life at Embry-Riddle and I would not change a thing!

Well I hope everyone has a great start to November. I am starting to get sad that my senior year is almost half way over! I still can’t believe it. Well, it’s time for me to start my day. I have two classes to go and I’m flight instructing for most of the night. Have a great day everyone!