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December 2010 - AFOSR supported research at the University of Arizona is investigating high temperature resistant ceramic coatings that will provide thermal protection for Air Force hypersonic flight vehicles.
The research team led by Dr. Erica Corral of the University of Arizona is using advanced chemical synthesis and ceramic processing methods to process the ceramic compositions onto carbon composites, which are the materials used to fabricate lightweight and highstrength aerospace vehicles.
"The major steps in advancing this technology are based on relevant testing of the ceramic coatings under extreme temperature, heat flux and gaseous species environments,"said Dr. Corral.
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El avance académico de Erica Corral puede ser considerado tan hipersónico como la nave espacial que ella está investigando, mas está en realidad en una trayectoria bien trazada que inició en la escuela primaria en El Paso.
Corral, de 33 años de edad salió de la universidad apenas hace cinco años y encabeza el laboratorio donde seis estudiantes e investigadores están desarrollando materiales que permitirán que una nave espacial hipersónica sobreviva la velocidad de Mach 20, y que vehículos espaciales puedan volver a entrar a la atmósfera de la Tierra sin que se quemen sus revestimientos protectores.
"No es fácil", confesó Corral, profesora asistente en el Departamento de Materiales Ciencias e Ingeniería de University of Arizona (U of A). "Es por eso que es tan interesante".
El "sistema de protección termal no ablativo" que ella está tratando de inventar para la nave espacial ofrecería el mismo tipo de protección como lo hacen las losetas de cerámica en el trasbordador espacial, solamente que el material de ella no se desprendería en el lanzamiento o se quemaría al volver a Tierra. Read full article here (scroll down for English version)
September 2010 - Erica Corral's academic rise may seem as hypersonic as the
spacecraft she researches, but she's actually on a carefully plotted trajectory
that began in elementary school in El Paso.
Corral, 33, is just five years out of graduate school and she heads a lab where six students and researchers are developing materials to allow hypersonic spacecraft to survive Mach 20 speed and space vehicles to re-enter Earth's atmosphere without burning off their protective shields.
"It's not easy," said Corral, an assistant professor in the University of Arizona's department of materials science and engineering. "That's kind of why it's so interesting."
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August 2010 - Erica Corral, an assistant professor in the UA
department of materials science and engineering, has been named most promising
doctoral engineer or scientist by the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement
Awards Conference, or HENAAC.
The conference is an annual event that recognizes the achievements of Hispanics in science, technology, engineering and math, which are known collectively as the STEM subjects. HENAAC, now in its 22nd year, is organized by Great Minds in STEM, a nonprofit that promotes careers and cultivates Hispanic talent in STEM subjects.
HENAAC awards are considered a great honor in the Hispanic community because they are made by the only national organization committed to highlighting and showcasing the brightest and most talented Hispanic professionals in STEM fields. A selection committee drawn from industry, academia and government judges award winners, which HENAAC says "must be truly stellar in their field."
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May 2010 - Assistant professor Erica L. Corral has been
awarded $400,000 by the National Science Foundation to research new materials
for spacecraft coatings that can withstand the super hot environments
encountered in space missions.
Under certain conditions, such as when a spacecraft re-enters the Earth's atmosphere, some parts of the vehicle can reach 2600-2800 degrees Celsius. That's about double the melting point of steel and more than half the estimated temperature of the Earth's core.
"There is the potential for longer missions in more extreme environments," Corral said. "However, thermal protection materials that will survive re-entry are a huge issue for space missions. Using current materials, you can only use the vehicle once because it's burned up during re-entry."
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March 2010 - Erica L. Corral, an assistant professor in the University of
Arizona department of materials science and engineering, is one of only 38
early-career scientists and engineers to receive an award under the Young
Investigator Program of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
Competition is fierce for research grants from the Air Force, and Corral's award marks the first time that UA has ever been a part of such an Air Force program for young investigators.
Corral said there is no official word on the exact amount of her award yet, but that it would be more than half a million dollars.
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March 2010 - Research on an aluminum-silicon alloy in space could lead to stronger materials manufactured on Earth.
When astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor docked
with the International Space Station on Feb. 10, more than 200 miles above the
Atlantic west of Portugal, part of their mission was to collect a sample from
an experiment conducted by University of Arizona College of Engineering
The small ingot of aluminum-silicon alloy was the first material sample supporting U.S. research to be processed in NASA's Materials Science Research Rack on the orbiting space station. The rack is fixed to the outside of the station and suspended in open space.
Professors David Poirier and Robert Erdmann of the UA's department of materials science and engineering, and Surendra Tewari of Cleveland State University, are researching how molten metals solidify in zero gravity and will study the sample.
March 2010 - The first American research sample processed in the International Space Station's Materials Science Laboratory was opened for study March 16 at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
The sample consisted of an aluminum-silicon alloy that was melted and resolidified in orbit. The experiment was controlled by commands from the ground and monitored by David Poirier, Robert Erdman and Matthew Goodman of UA's materials science and engineering department.
Scientists will compare the sample to an Earth-based recreation of the experiment conducted by Surendra Tewari of Cleveland State University in Ohio. Tewari will join the UA team to analyze and dissect the sample from orbit.
January 2010 - International research in the fields of
thermal imaging, remote spectroscopy, medical imaging and astronomy has a home
on the campus of the University of Arizona thanks to collaborations between
researchers at the UA and two French universities.
University of Arizona President Robert N. Shelton met with representatives on Jan. 11 from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientific, or CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research), to mark the inauguration of the CNRS International Associated Laboratory for Materials and Optics on the UA campus.
“The University of Arizona is proud to be included in this collaboration with CNRS. CNRS has a remarkable reputation worldwide for the science and engineering that is conducted in its laboratories. It is a great privilege to be associated with this premier organization in France,” Shelton said.