NASA Wallops Goes to Australia

Mr. Bill Miasek

Last summer Bill Miasek and his team members from Wallops were on location in Alaska launching rockets to collect data about noctilucent clouds. The team wrote many letters to our summer school students at Glen Avenue.

Bill is leaving next week for Australia and promises to write to our Delmar students all about the seven rockets he will be launching. Here is his letter we received just a few weeks ago:


I would be glad to start some correspondence with your students now so we could get to know each other. It may be hard to get Kate involved because I'm at work sending this and unfortunately we are not connected at home yet. I will definitely take the letter\notes home to share and I could relay in whatever Kate has to say. MaryJo suggested that I could come and visit the kids at school one day if that would work out with your schedule.

Mrs.. Weeg's Student's:

Hi, my name is Bill Miasek. I work with NASA at Wallops Island Flight Facility near Chincoteague, Virginia. I help to design the sounding rockets that NASA launches, my job is a telemetry engineer. The word "sounding" means "to measure", therefor the rockets that we launch take measurements in the atmosphere as they fly. The word telemetry means to gather measurements and send them to another location. In order for the measurements that the rocket makes to be useful, they have to be sent back to us on the ground. So, I design the system that collects the measurements that the rocket makes and sends them back down to the ground. When we get the measurements on the ground, they are recorded so we can use them later.

Starting this month we will be going to Woomera, Australia to launch rockets. Woomera is in the South Australia province. We are going to launch 7 rockets. When we go to some place far away with alot of rockets we call it a campaign, this will be the Australia Campaign '95. When we launch rockets we have to do it in a location where there are no people around so no one will get hurt. When we go to someplace far away like Australia, we have to take everything we will need to do our work and it involves alot of people. Sometimes we go to foreign countries where they do not speak English and that makes it tough, but they speak English in Australia, well sort of if ya know what I mean mate.

The rockets that we are launching will be telescopes. These telescopes are specially designed to observe stars, planets, and instellar gases in ways that you can not see with your eye. Also when the telescope is out of the Earth's atmosphere they can get a much clearer picture. The Earth's atmosphere has alot of water(humidity) and other gases in it that distort what you see. These telescopes are special in another way too, they are a new type design that is not currently being used on Earth or on a satellite. If the telescope works, they will use the new technology in future telescopes. You might be wondering why we are going to Australia to launch the rockets, and why we can not launch them from here? Well, something's out in space you can not see from where we live because they are blocked by the Earth's horizon. The scientist want to look at stars that can only be seen from the southern hemisphere. What they want to see is the closest star to earth that is outside of our galaxy, and the closest one can only be seen from the southern hemisphere during certain times of the year. The reason we go to Woomera is because they have a great big desert, where no one lives and we can launch the rocket and it will come back down to Earth on a parachute so that we can reuse it.

I will be leaving to go to Australia on the 17th. I will be able to send messages to you from there on the internet. If you have any questions I can answer them now and from Australia. I will also keep you updated on our launch progress.

Well, by for now,
your friend Bill

The children have written several letters to him and he has responded.

On Tuesday, October 10, Bill Miasek came to Delmar to visit the kids. He came loaded with posters, pamphlets, pictures of rockets and Woomera, a model rocket and lots of smiles for the students. During his visit the TV cameras also arrived! These letters arrived for the students on the days following Mr. Bill's visit. We had a terrific day... Thank you, Mr. Bill!

The mail exchange continues...
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