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Dryden Drop Tower
The Dryden Drop Tower (DDT) is a laboratory facility at PSU with which to conduct fundamental and applied research in a near weightless environment.

The experiments conducted are valuable for the development of mathematical and computer models for predicting the behavior of unearthly phenomena that occur aboard spacecraft. Many of the specific projects support collaborative research activities with NASA.

At the University level, the DDT is a suitable tool to introduce students to 'micro-gravity' phenomena common aboard orbiting spacecraft. The brief time afforded by our tower (approximately 2 seconds) provides ample time for many fluids, combustion, and materials science investigations. Graduate research as well as undergraduate student projects gives students exposure to and experience in designing equipment and experiments to meet the unique requirements of such a test environment. These experiences are essential to the successful design and analysis of robust systems for actual spacecraft. Terrestrial applications of low-gravity drop tower studies are common.

At the K-12 level, the DDT is a perfect tool with which to introduce students to concepts such as gravity, displacement, velocity, acceleration, and aerodynamic drag as well as a wide range of gravity-masked phenomena. Curiosity-driven studies are fun, strange, and always educational STEM activities at all levels.

The drop tower is available for commercial activities. The general public, industry, and other institutions are also welcome to inquire about the tower capabilities and availability.

 

DDT Characteristics:

Tower height: 31.1m (102ft)
Free fall distance: 22m (72ft)
Anticipated low-g time: 2.1 seconds
Anticipated g-level: 0 < a < 10-4go (go = 9.81m/s2)
Deceleration distance: ~ 3.5m
Drag shield mass: 115kg
Experiment mass: < 90kg
Peak deceleration: 15go
Average deceleration: 8.5go
Automated retrieval: 2 min.

   Design Features:

     Cable-Guided Drag Shield Approach
     Magnetic Field/Eddy CurrentDeceleration
     Air Collet Release Mechanism
     Single Floor, Single Person Operation
     Aesthetic, Public Space