BVU Professor Consults on NASA PDART Project

BVU Professor Consults on NASA PDART Project

BVU Professor Consults on NASA PDART Project
Dr. Shawn Stone

Buena Vista University Professor Dr. Shawn Stone has been invited to be a part of a grant out of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., in which he will contribute code for the Planetary Data Archiving, Restoration, and Tools (PDART) program.

Specifically, Stone, who is a professor of physics and computer science at BVU, will help calculate and verify the look direction of the Galileo spacecraft’s Energetic Particle Detector (EPD) during the spacecraft’s Jovian moon encounters.

Though the three-year project doesn’t officially kick off until April, Stone developed software over BVU’s January Interim that calculates the EPD look direction based on information provided by Galileo, including right ascension, declination, sector, and motor step position. The look directions will be packed with particle data from the EPD and provided to the Planetary Data System by the FTECS PPI Node (ftecs.com). Space scientists will use this data to analyze past and future moon encounters.

The opportunity stemmed from Stone’s days as a graduate student at the University of Kansas, where he worked with the EPD group based at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. As part of his research there, Stone calculated where the EPD was pointing during Galileo encounters with the Jovian moon, Ganymede.

“I was very proud to be a part of the EPD team and I am very elated to be working on the data again,” said Stone. “I forgot how exciting it was to apply my craft.” 

A diagram of the Galileo spacecraft.

A diagram of the Galileo spacecraft.