Northwest Florida Roundup
Researchers at FSU and Florida A&M develop a better design for a low-gravity space simulator
Building a Better Simulator
Existing space flight simulators that use free-fall to generate near-zero gravity are restricted by size and typically have short low-gravity durations — from only several seconds to a few minutes — making them unsuitable for experiments that require long observation times.
Researchers at Florida State University and Florida A&M’s College of Engineering have developed a design for a magnetic levitation-based low-gravity simulator that is 1,000 times larger than existing simulators of the same type.
“Low gravity has a profound effect on the behaviors of biological systems and also affects many physical processes from the dynamics and heat transfer of fluids to the growth and self-organization of materials,” saysWei Guo, associate professor in mechanical engineering and lead scientist on the study.
“However, space flight experiments are often limited by the high cost and the small payload size and mass. Therefore, developing ground-based low-gravity simulators is important,” Guo says.
Magnetic levitation-based simulators offer unique advantages, he says, including low cost, easy accessibility, adjustable gravity and practically unlimited operation time.
- Zach McCluskey has been named CEO of the Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, a division of HCA Healthcare North Florida. In his new role, McCluskey will oversee the 267-bed hospital that serves Okaloosa, Walton and Santa Rosa counties. The Virginia native has held executive leadership roles within HCA for more than 15 years.
- The Doubletree Hotel in Tallahassee has been sold at auction for $23 million to 101 South Adams Street Holdings, a Baltimore company. The hotel was formerly owned by local developer J.T. Burnette, who was sentenced in November to three years in federal prison on corruption charges.
- The first wave of homeowners has begun moving into the third phase of St. Joe Co.’s Latitude Margaritaville Watersound residential development near Panama City Beach.
- St. Joe Co. plans to build an apartment complex exclusively for its employees. St. Joe spokesman Mike Kerrigan says the project will be located on nine acres in Panama City Beach, not far from company headquarters. "It's definitely going to provide a level of convenience to our employees and help us recruit folks to work at our properties. We think it's something that our employees will be very excited about," says Kerrigan.
- Florida Power & Light has begun construction of a solar microgrid power project at Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City. The facility is designed to be resilient to catastrophic weather. Tyndall sustained a direct hit from Hurricane Michael in 2018. The category 5 hurricane caused an estimated $4.7 billion in overall damages and destroyed nearly 500 buildings. In 2020, the Department of Defense announced the base would be rebuilt as an “Installation of the Future,” with updated building codes, smart building technology and other storm-resistant features.
- City officials have begun planning a major expansion of Pensacola International Airport that will include a new concourse, more loading gates and expanded parking. The announcement comes on the heels of another recordbreaking passenger count in 2021. Airport Director Matt Coughlin says the number of passengers boarding flights last year increased 25% over pre-COVID numbers in 2019.
- Delta Air Lines has begun daily non-stop service from Pensacola International Airport to LaGuardia Airport in New York.