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Welcome to Staff Notes Monthly

Volume 32, Number 3 -- March 1997

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Just One Look

(Photo courtesy of NASA.)

Ed Lu, a visiting scientist in HAO from 1989 to 1992, will be the mission specialist on board NASA's space shuttle Atlantis this spring. Mission STS-84 is scheduled to dock with the Russian space station Mir following its launch in May. A loose-knit group of Ed's former colleagues in HAO plans to make the trip to Kennedy Space Center to watch the takeoff. Ed came to NCAR after receiving his doctorate in applied physics from Stanford University. His research here and at the Institute for Astronomy in Honolulu, Hawaii, focused on the physics underlying solar flares. Ed was accepted by NASA in December 1994, whereupon he began a year of astronaut training and evaluation. He has been assigned to the Computer Support Branch of NASA's Astronaut Office while awaiting his first flight assignment.

While at NCAR, Ed performed statistical analyses of the energy, duration, and frequency of solar flares. "I never did work with him, but I kept in fairly close touch with the work he was doing. It's interesting stuff," says HAO's Tim Brown. Of particular interest, adds Tim, was "self-organized criticality," or the means by which a small change in conditions can trigger a cascade of reactions and produce a flare. "You can get pieces of magnetic field positioned in different directions and jammed up against each other. Eventually a few pieces will reconnect with each other, which lets out energy and reconfigures the field. This can make other nearby pieces vulnerable to reconnection and trigger an avalanche response."

Although Ed's career-to-be wasn't evident during his HAO days, his interest in aviation was well known. Ed holds a commercial pilot's certificate with multiengine and instrument ratings. He especially enjoys aerobatic flying with biplanes (aircraft with two stacked wings).

"He's a cool guy," says Tim. "He's smart, he's funny, and he doesn't take himself too seriously."

Ed sends this message to his Boulder friends and acquaintances: "As you might imagine, things are incredibly busy now, but we all can't wait for the big day (15 May). Tell everyone at NCAR I said 'hi,' and I'll wave as I go overhead!" •BH

About this publication

Staff Notes Monthly is published by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, Colorado 80307-3000. UCAR operates the National Center for Atmospheric Research, UCAR Office of Programs, and Walter Orr Roberts Institute with support from the National Science Foundation and other sponsors.

Writer/editor: Bob Henson
Design: Peter Bockenthien
Printing: Image & Design Center, Speedy Bee
Print distribution: Milli Butterworth
Electronic distribution: Jacque Marshall

Unless otherwise noted all images are copyrighted by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research / National Center for Atmospheric Research / National Science Foundation.

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Edited by Bob Henson, bhenson@ucar.edu