Richard J. Shorthill, a University of Utah scientist who has worked on several major American space proj-ects, will attend the 28th annual meeting of COSPAR, an international organization of space scientists, July 17-31 in Helsinki, Finland.
Shorthill said the COSPAR meetings provide valuable opportunities for the international community of scientists to exchange views and learn from each other's experiences in space exploration."At past sessions, I have gained a lot of insight into the professionalism and tough negotiating skills that are characteristic of scientists from the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries," said Shorthill, research associate professor of mechanical and industrial engineering.
A COSPAR member since the early 1970's, Shorthill praised the organization's role in crystalizing plans for space experiments between countries. He said the formal and informal discussions that occur at such gatherings often "plant the seeds" for later cooperation in space.
Among long-term American proj-ects, Shorthill expects discussions to focus on the forthcoming launch of the space shuttle, a manned lunar laboratory, the multimodule orbiting space station and a possible manned mission to Mars.
Soviet scientists are expected to report on their space achievements and on their Phobos probe, which is expected to be launched in July prior to the start of the COSPAR meeting. Phobos is a project to explore the moons of Mars with sophisticated scientific instruments.
Shorthill, a former senior research scientist with Boeing Co., worked on the Apollo program, which landed astronauts on the moon, and on the Viking program, which landed two unmanned spacecraft on Mars.
In cooperation with scientists at the University of Wyoming, Shorthill is studying the asteroid belt. The research could shed important scientific light on the origin of asteroids, small irregularly shaped bodies orbiting the sun, mostly between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
As a NASA consultant on Apollo, Shorthill briefed many of the astronaut crews on the properties of the lunar soil. He was also involved in several experiments on the physical properties of the moon and Mars as a principal investigator on Viking.
Shorthill is co-inventor of a new type of gyroscope, or space compass, made from fiber optics.