[intro-text size=”25px”]The NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland turns 75 years old this year and has invited Clevelanders to celebrate with them by opening its doors to the public this weekend for free tours of its main research facilities.[/intro-text]

Demonstrations of the research carried out at the facili

ties are explained by scientists, engineers and other staff, who also have planned activities and exhibits for kids. Historic artifacts like astronaut suits from Apollo 8 and the Gemini space capsule are on display.

“We Freeze To Please” is the somewhat tongue-in-cheek motto of NASA Glenn’s Icing Research Tunnel. Visitors get an inside look at the giant wind tunnel researchers use to recreate wind and ice to test their effects on airplanes and space-bound vehicles.

The Cleveland facility is responsible for the development of the wheels used by Rovers, both lunar and Martian. Scientists say a something as simple as a faulty wheel can end an entire mission; research, testing and design improvements are continuous.

The Aero Acoustic Propulsion Lab is the part of the research center that has the most impact on civilian life. It tests airplane noise, one of the largest contributors to noise pollution, and, depending on where you live in Cleveland, a major annoyance. The lab verifies noise levels of specific airplane parts and tests concepts meant to improve airplane noise reduction.

Visitors stared in awe at the massive vacuum chamber in the Zero Gravity Research Facility – you can guess what that chamber is for. Chemicals, metals, anything meant for use in space, can be tested in the chamber to see how it reacts to zero gravity. This particular chamber isn’t meant for human use (unfortunately).

Lines of cars waiting to get in on Saturday were backed up onto the highway outside the IX Center as thousands of Clevelanders took advantage of this rare opportunity. Visitors use the IX Center lot and then ride a shuttle bus over to the facilities. Yesterday’s attendees waited up to nearly 2 hours just to get to the buses, but many said it was well worth the wait.

The Open House at NASA Glenn continues today from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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