Team DPX flies on the “Vomit Comet”

Team DPX was formed in 2007 to conduct dusty plasma experiments, including measurements in NASA’s microgravity airplane. To that effect they applied for flying time to NASA’s Microgravity University program. Their proposal was successful. To view a short video of their experience aboard the ‘vomit comet’, click on the following: Team DPX Video
(If you have trouble viewing the movie go to my website and click on Team DPX Movie)

Team DPX II has recently applied to fly in the summer of ’09.

Rachel (class of '09) in NASA's Microgravity Plane

Rachel (class of '09) in NASA's Microgravity Plane

(from left to right) Mike ('08), Rachel ('09), Justin ('09), and Brandon ('08)

(from left to right) Mike ('08), Rachel ('09), Justin ('09), and Brandon ('08)

(Photos and movies courtesy of Team DPX)

Super Rachel flies with Team DPX II

Super Rachel flies with Team DPX II


15 Responses

  1. Team DPX did it again! DPX III got their acceptance notification and are heading back to Houston! We’re working on getting our website updated so check in soon at for more information about the team and our plans for this year. Hope everyone on the team is ready for long hours at the lab and a lot of team bonding!

  2. Team DPX III has been formed and submitted a proposal to fly next summer. Team leader is Aliya Merali (PHYA junior), other members are Darrick Jones (PHYA senior), Michael Baker (Mech. Eng. junior), and Chris Conniff (Mech. Eng. senior). Advisors are Drs. Andrew Zwicker (PPPL), Bijan Sepahpour, and Romulo Ochoa.

  3. Forgot to make mention of this:

    Team DPX has become the representative team for Microgravity University and were featured with the program with

  4. Hello!
    here are the links to the video footage of team DPX II flying this past summer!

    (Darrick is featured in this one)

    (Aliya stars in this one)

    (unrated Director’s cut of Rachel S. transforming into Supergirl …, ooops Chaz is also featured)

    That’s a video from each flight date!


    (Comments in parenthesis added by RO)

  5. HAHA why do I have an evil face next to me in the current majors list? I didn’t know you liked me that much Dr. Ochoa, just kidding

  6. The second DPX team has successfully returned from NASA’s Johnson Space Center! After a great deal of work and preparations before going to NASA, we were able to fly through the safety tests and everything this year and made NASA very happy with our changes and upgrades.

    While our first flight day (Rachel Sherman – Graduate in Physics/Secondary Education, Chaz Ruggieri – Graduate in Physics, and Russell Jones – Graduate in Mechanical Engineering) ran into some trouble capturing detailed data on the dust particles due to the laser position, they still were able to gather data on the cloud dynamics and allow us to correct the problem, leading to great data collection throughout the entire flight on the second day (Darrick Jones – Senior Physics, Chris Conniff – Senior Mechanical Engineering, and our NASA mentor: Andrew Zwicker). Aliya Merali (Junior Physics) also had the opportunity to fly with the team from New Mexico, helping them with their experiment.

    We also were more successful at keeping our stomachs full and wits about us this year! Only one team member got sick, and even so he remained function and kept going with the project the whole time! The altitude chamber was similarly boring this year, with all of them easily surviving at 25,000 feet for 5 minutes.

    Currently, the data is being processed and analyzed by Aliya Merali as her summer REU at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. The team will be giving a talk at the Liberty Science Center later this summer and is preparing its final report for NASA.

    Pictures and the video from this years flight are coming, for any that want to see. If you can’t or don’t want to wait, visit the website below and look at flights 1, 2, and 4 to see familiar faces.

    • Photo provided by Justin has been posted at top of page…Madame Señotita Presidente is now Super Rachel…

  7. So it turns out that Team DPX II was only one out of five proposals to be funded by SPS this year. The following link contains the official announcement:

  8. Another first for Team DPX: Today we were notified that the Society of Physics Students will fund them with $2000 from their Undergraduate Research Award program. Only 8 or 9 SPS chapters are funded every year. Add to this Justin Nieusma’s Phi Kappa Phi award and you can appreciate the pride the Team is bringing to our Department and to TCNJ.

    We should not forget to acknowledge Mike Hvasta’s effort as the first leader and Dr. Zwicker (PPPL) tremendous support. Justin and Team DPX II are building very effectively on the foundation provided by Team DPX I.

    Please watch for more updates. The Dusty Plasma experiments will need some instrumentation. Equipment loans/donations will be most welcome. Soon we should have a list of the equipment required.

  9. Congratulations Team DPX!! If someone on the team can write an article about being accepted for Summer 2009, I would be happy to publish it on the School of Science webpage and share it with the College.

    Thank you,

  10. Team DPX I was featured in the article “Weightless Wonders” by Beth Kelley, SPIE Professional Magazine, January 2009 Issue. (SPIE=Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers). The article shows a great photo of Rachel and Mike…mouths wide open… in amazement …or posing???…The article is 2.35 pages long.

  11. Team DPX has officially been accepted back into the Microgravity University program! We will be going back to Houston to fly again. We are still uncertain on some of the details, as the program is working out a few things, but we are in the program!

  12. OMG! DPX is soooo cool!! I really hope they get accepted this year!

  13. A quick update for everyone that is wondering what is going on with the new team –


    As you know, the selection of flight teams announcement for the 2009 Flight season was scheduled for Thursday, December 11, 2008. However, due to circumstances beyond our control, associated with costs and funding, the announcement will be delayed. Currently, we are trying to maximize the number of flight teams that will be able to participate in this year’s program. We wish we could give you a more exact date, but at this time, we do not have one. Please continue to monitor your email and the website for updates as soon as we have them.

    Please understand that we are working very diligently to get this matter resolved in a timely manner.


    Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program Staff
    External Relations – Office of Education (AE2)
    NASA Johnson Space Center

  14. I’ll put out a little plug for us as well: Check out our website at for more information. Also, keep your eyes and ears open for DPX II as we get prepared and await the announcement of accepted teams on December 11th.

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