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Photo of Dale C. Ferguson
   Dale C. Ferguson
   Group Leader for Space Environments
NASA Glenn Research Center
Cleveland, Ohio
United States Of America
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High School: Springboro High School, Springboro,  OH
Bachelor of Science (Astronomy), Case Western Reserve University
Ph.D. (Astronomy), University of Arizona

Background Information
I was the Principal Investigator on one of the Mars Pathfinder Sojourner Rover technology experiments, the Wheel Abrasion Experiment, or WAE. I am the Group Leader for Space Environments in the Photovoltaics and Space Environments Branch at the NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio. I am also Astronomy Instructor and Director of the Burrell Memorial Observatory at Baldwin-Wallace College, in Berea, Ohio. I have published a college textbook, "Introductory Astronomy Exercises, 2nd edition", through Brooks/Cole Division of International Thomson Publishers.

Born in Dayton, Ohio in 1948, I was valedictorian of my 1966 graduating class at Springboro High School, about 30 miles south of Dayton. In 1970, I graduated with high honors from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, with a B.S. in Astronomy and the Jason J. Nassau Prize in Astronomy. In 1974, I received my Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Arizona, in Tucson.

I have been fortunate enough to have taught or done research at the following institutions: the University of Arizona, Louisiana State University, the Max-Planck-Institute for Radioastronomy in Bonn, Germany, New York University, the Arecibo Radioastronomy Observatory in Puerto Rico, Southeast Missouri State University, Case Western Reserve University, the NASA Glenn Research Center, and Baldwin-Wallace College. I have been a Principal Investigator on the following space flight experiments: Plasma Interactions Experiment II (PIX-II, Delta, orbital), Effects of Oxygen Interactions with Materials 3 (EOIM-3, Shuttle payload bay), Plasma Motor Generator diagnostics package (PMG, Delta, orbital tether), Solar Array Module Plasma Interactions Experiment (SAMPIE, Shuttle payload bay), the Wheel Abrasion Experiment (WAE, Mars Pathfinder Rover), and the Floating Potential Probe (FPP, International Space Station).

My primary research interest is the interaction between spacecraft and their environments. My PIX-II, PMG, SAMPIE, and FPP experiments investigated interactions of the space plasma with spacecraft flying through it. EOIM-3 looked at the effects of the atomic oxygen environment in low Earth orbit on spacecraft materials. And, of course, WAE investigated the wear and abrasion caused by the Martian dust on metals deposited on one of Sojourner's wheels. WAE also detected soil adhesion due to static electrical charging of parts of the WAE wheel by rolling in the dry Martian atmosphere. In all cases, knowledge of the effects of spacecraft environments makes it possible to build better spacecraft in the future.

Contributions to Mars Exploration

Principal Investigator on the Wheel Abrasion Experiment (WAE) on the Sojourner Rover. WAE measured the abrasion caused by the Martian dust, and discovered electrostatic charging of Martian dust and the Rover rolling over it. [more contributions ...]
Personal Reflections

content image for personal reflections section In my spare time I enjoy reading and playing golf, and also participate in virtual visits of students to the Glenn Research Center through the Learning Technologies Project to discuss "The Apollo Moon Landings, Fact not Fiction. [more personal reflections ...]