Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Space-Age Technology Peeks At American History

Date:
March 18, 1999
Source:
National Aeronautics And Space Administration
Summary:
A team of NASA scientists working at the request of the National Archives has proved that the containers preserving several pages of the U.S. Constitution are still safely sealed.

A team of NASA scientists working at the request of the National Archives has proved that the containers preserving several pages of the U.S. Constitution are still safely sealed.

Scientists from NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, adapted a laser system from an atmospheric research program to peer into the encasements protecting three of the five pages of the Constitution. By analyzing how the laser was affected by water vapor within the cases, the scientists determined the two middle pages of the Constitution and the transmittal page are still protected by their half-century-old helium and water vapor atmosphere.

"This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Dr. Joel S. Levine, the scientist who managed the project. "The U.S. Constitution is one of the most important documents in the history of the world. It was an honor and a privilege to be asked to perform this research."

In the early 1950s, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, collectively known as the Charters of Freedom, were sealed in specially prepared containers. The cases were filled with humidified helium to protect the documents. When scientists beamed the laser into the cases, the water vapor inside partially absorbed the beam. By analyzing the absorption pattern, the scientists determined that the atmosphere had not changed.

In the next few years, the National Archives will replace the containers preserving the Charters of Freedom. First, however, the agency wanted to see how the old ones held up and contacted Dr. Levine with an intriguing scientific challenge: determine the composition of the atmosphere in the containers without breaking their seals. The team used an instrument developed by Langley researcher Glen Sachse, the Diode Laser Hygrometer, to effectively take chemical samples without unsealing the encasements.

The laser system is now headed to the South Pacific aboard a NASA DC-8 aircraft to help scientists understand how human activities affect the Earth's lower atmosphere. The flight is part of the Pacific Exploratory Mission Tropics-B project, the fourth in a series of NASA airborne missions to study the atmospheric chemistry of the western and tropical Pacific Ocean regions.

NASA's research into the Earth's environment is sponsored by the Office of Earth Science enterprise, which oversees a long-term, coordinated research effort to study the effects of natural and human-induced events on the Earth's global environmental system.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Aeronautics And Space Administration. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "Space-Age Technology Peeks At American History." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 March 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990318040710.htm>.
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. (1999, March 18). Space-Age Technology Peeks At American History. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990318040710.htm
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "Space-Age Technology Peeks At American History." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990318040710.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) Chinese researchers have expanded on Cold War-era tech and are closer to building a submarine that could reach the speed of sound. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) An acute coal shortage is likely to be aggravated as India's supreme court declared government coal allocations illegal, says Breakingviews' Peter Thal Larsen. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins