I am very hesitant to post some proof since they come with warnings on them. For example, my badge says on the back, "This credential is the property of the United States Government. Counterfeiting, altering or misusing violates Section 499, Title 18 of the U.S Code."

I can post my acceptance letter here:


Edit: Some people noticed that the date on the letter is odd. Since I opened it up on word it updated itself. Here is more proof below.


I would also like to point out that I am one of MANY interns at NASA and this is a welcome to anyone who has interesting projects to share (unless its hush hush then I understand).

So, here is what I do. I work as an intern doing combustion in microgravity experiments. To start, microgravity is simply a state where the force of gravity measure below 10-6, or basically zero gravity. What we basically do is burn a small candle like flame with different fuels and drop them down a huge shaft with a rig to block air drag and record the flame.

This website has a lot more specific projects: http://issresearchproject.grc.nasa.gov/Investigations/ACME/

I am working on the Electric-Field Effects on Laminar Diffusion Flames (E-FIELD Flames). Basically, when a flame burns it produces ions within the reaction that can be manipulated with an electric field that then effects the flame. With this we can improve combustion efficiency and cleanliness. Other projects I know of work with fire safety in space and how a flame reacts in different conditions.

You'll notice that a flame in microgravity resembles a bubble. That is because there is no gravity to induce the buoyancy effect which would cause the hot, burned, gases to rise and allow oxidizer (oxygen in air for most fuels) to recycle itself in the reaction. So the burned gases just bubbles up and expands as fresh oxidizer struggles to push in and continue the reaction.

Let me know if you guys have any other questions about other projects or internship stuff.

EDIT: Going to bed but keep up the great questions and science talk.

Comments: 177 • Responses: 45  • Date: 


Is there a lot of Naruto fans at NASA?

SilentWolfjh23 karma

Believe it.

fiafia12711 karma

Hello from JPL! =)

SilentWolfjh12 karma

Hi! I'm jealous you get to work at the Jet Propulsion Lab! How's Cali?

kellanium10 karma

How does it feel to be on the cutting-edge of science and have 98% of the public think you get too much money? For the record, I'd like to see us quadruple NASA funding. It would just get to me after a while.

SilentWolfjh14 karma

It makes me kinda sad. We get less than half a cent of the federal dollar in funding.

I could only imagine what would happen if funding was quadrupled. So many projects coming back to life ... so many jobs.

kellanium3 karma

As a follow-up, what would you like to see happen if that were to occur?

SilentWolfjh8 karma

More funding for manned space missions. I think it is silly that we haven't gone back to the moon in over 40 years. This would then be followed by more research in future propulsion systems, because they are needed if we ever plan on exploring the rest of the solar system.

I would also like to see more funding for alternative energy b/c yay environment! It would be great time for breakthroughs. If only we had said funding!

damegrohl7 karma

Do you have an interest in space and the moon or just advanced scientific practices?

SilentWolfjh8 karma

I would love to work on designing future moon mission, and deep space exploration is one of my greatest passions. If anything, it would be awesome to work with future propulsion systems. That's where my interests truly are.

djb855111 karma

Future propulsion systems like new fuels, nuclear reactor engines?

SilentWolfjh1 karma

fission/fusion engines (nuclear) are basically the only things left to create. There are also electric propulsion but they have been around for years.

OverlordQuasar2 karma

Solar sails, anti-matter, black hole converters (yes, as well as a thing from doctor who, this is a legitimate proposed means of propulsion, done by using a particle accelerator to create a small black hole, injecting matter into an accretion disc around it, then using a magnetic field, cause it to go flying out in a specific direction just before it would've hit the event horizon, could easily accelerate faster and to higher speeds than even antimatter), ion engines (you mentioned electric propulsion, which I would guess refers, in part at least, to this), warp drives (out there, I know, and still purely for theoretical physicists, but still fascinating), space elevators, and my specialty, balloon assisted (using a high altitude balloon to get above most of the atmosphere, which hugely cuts down on fuel requirements).

SilentWolfjh2 karma

I was staying out of the realm of science fiction, even though its still pretty cool. I did fail to mention solar sails and balloon assisted.

Of course the UK has also created that air-breathing rocket jet engine which looks freaking cool. The SABRE

mackadelic6 karma

How old are you (if you do not mind me asking) and which college did you attend as well as what discipline did you study in? Sounds like a NASA internship is a fantastic way to start your career.

SilentWolfjh16 karma

21, Case Western Reserve University. I am finishing my BS in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering.

I'm really happy I got an opportunity at NASA and I plan to stay with them.

abkap4 karma

What is something about working at NASA that the average person (someone who doesn't work at NASA) wouldn't know?

SilentWolfjh22 karma

That we only get less than half a cent of the federal dollar but still make it work.

That the work we are doing is for the benefit of all and not just for the government or military.

That there are a lot more women working for NASA than you would think.

This list could get pretty big.

electronichss3 karma

Do the permanent employees make you get coffee for them?

SilentWolfjh9 karma

No, you are treated like a person with a purpose. This is why I enjoy this internship, but it can also add pressure since you feel like you have to do something important.

Off_Topic_Oswald3 karma

What is the most interesting project currently being worked on?

SilentWolfjh7 karma

Well, there is talk about an asteroid capture mission in the works. Hopefully the funding for it holds.

There is also the James Webb Telescope looks like its gonna be freaking cool.

sumnuyungi3 karma

Is NASA very selective with their interns? What qualifications did they look for? Do you have to be at least a junior in an undergrad program to apply? Thanks for doing the AMA, I've had a lot of questions about NASA internships for a while and wasn't able to ask them.

SilentWolfjh1 karma

I feel as though they look for decent academics, willingness to reach out, your passion for your interests, and ability to communicate/work with a team. SHOW that you are interested!

I've met several high school students currently interning and many sophomores/juniors. If you are interested you should apply regardless of your undergraduate status. If you don't get it the first time, just try again. I applied to many different programs and got denied from a few until I got selected so don't get bummed if you don't get it the first time.

JohnSouthern3 karma

How's the pay?

SilentWolfjh5 karma

Great, but the experience is amazing.

3sakurachii3 karma

How difficult to get an internship or job at NASA? I've always dreamed of working there eventually but I'm scared of not being smart enough. Are they very prestigious?

SilentWolfjh2 karma

They don't just look for academics, but also look for passion and ability to work with others. If you are persistent your chances for getting in increase.

They accept people from a range of years from high school students to past 4th year undergrad seniors. Just apply, show that you are really interested and don't get yourself down. If you don't get in the first time just keep trying, heck it took me multiple tries.

cant_read_adamnthing1 karma

I realize that this AMA is 4 months old, but I don't care. Anyway, I've submitted applications for numerous Pathways programs and OSSI opportunities for the past year now and I've gotten several quick phone interviews and a video interview for different internships but I was rejected for all of them. So obviously I'm "good enough" for them to contact me, but maybe I'm lacking something because I can't seem to land the internship.

So my question for you is, what is something that you and other NASA interns have in common that sets you apart from the other applicants? Is it previous research not done at NASA or previous work experience? Feel free to interpret it however you want.

SilentWolfjh1 karma

A lot of the interns I worked with had family members with connections to NASA, so that was their way in. I was lucky enough to get contacted by a professor from my school who happened to be doing research there. Some of the other students got in from a joint school program with NASA.

I can't guarantee anything, but try to find an "in", like someone who you know that works for them or a professor or something. That's all I got for you :/

Palmsiepoo1 karma

Any room for social scientists? I'd love to contribute but as a social scientist, it's tough to find opportunities to work there, even as an intern.

SilentWolfjh1 karma

If you are interested it is always a good idea to apply. Don't even worry about your major. Just find something interesting and that seems like something you can handle and apply.

Tehtnm3 karma

What is the most bizarre part of working at NASA?

SilentWolfjh2 karma

I was taken aback on how the center is like its own entire campus. Also, you can basically walk around the center and just learn about stuff if you have free time.

themook1e3 karma


SilentWolfjh2 karma

NASA is currently developing ORION which will be the new Multi-Purpose crew vehicle that will lead to future human missions. Hopefully to the moon, then to mars and beyond.

To go to Mars and beyond, we would need to develop nuclear rockets (fission/fusion). I dunno, there is so much we could still do but these are the immediate things we could do.

InvisibleBlueUnicorn3 karma

How long is your internship?

How was the interview for the internship?

SilentWolfjh8 karma

There was no interview (surprisingly), although I've heard that NASA interviews can be intense. As in, they are not allowed to so emotion and its just a simple back and forth. No jokes, no conversation.

The internship is 10 weeks long.

BaconBaconisgood2 karma

What are some of the other jobs they put you to do as an intern? Also, how does it feel to be an intern at an important agency?

SilentWolfjh6 karma

Interns are assigned a project by a mentor (NASA employee doing actual research) from the get go. Usually the project is related to or part of the mentors project. Some people work in wind tunnels, some with rover stuff, some with re-entry materials. The list is huge.

Honestly, at first it felt intimidating but now it feels like I could make a difference. Whenever I drive to the entrance of the center there is a sign that reads:

"Research and Development for the Benefit of All."

It makes you feel important.

Shmo402 karma

Any goals for when you graduate / full time job? I interned w/ Boeing at NASA's Redstone Arsenal in the Saturn V first stage assembly building working on the space station back when I was in college. Lots fun, but working under NASA's umbrella was pretty tough sometimes.

SilentWolfjh2 karma

I want to get into a fellowship program or a part-time situation while I continue with graduate school. If I really like the project I work on at that time then I would consider a full time job.

It would be awesome if I got to work on propulsion research.

That internship sounds pretty awesome. Saturn V is a monster, such a cool rocket. I'm pretty jealous.

AstroKota2 karma

As a CS dude, I am very interested in a chance to intern with NASA.

How does the living situation work, especially if you are still in college? Do you just happen to live near your internship site? May be a dumb question, but oh well.

SilentWolfjh2 karma

Not a dumb question at all. I was lucky enough to attend college nearby and just got summer housing there.

When our group got selected for this summer they sent out an email of all nearby apartments and contact information so people could plan housing together and get apartment.

People are very helping in helping you find a place to live and NASA sent out a lot of open apartment information. They also ask about living preferences when filling out your acceptance IIRC.

InvisibleBlueUnicorn2 karma

Is your project related to engines what work in zero gravity? I know that fighter jets engines are capable of starting and running in 0g?

SilentWolfjh1 karma

My project is related to regular combustion engines. Working in micro just allows us to see the effects of the electric field much clearer. Fighter jets are capable of starting in 0g, thats how that start back up when they stall out.

Up in space the velocities of gas in rocket nozzles are so high that E-fields will have virtually no effect on the reactions.

InvisibleBlueUnicorn1 karma

How do you simulate micro-gravity in lab?

SilentWolfjh2 karma

micro-gravity is essentially the same as falling without the wind rushing past you. Its like being in an elevator and having the elevator fall down the shaft. The elevator blocks the rushing wind, and you are simply floating inside ... well until the eventual crash.

Anyway ... we simulate micro-gravity the same way, but with a drag shield instead of an elevator, and with cameras watching the test rig inside the drag shield.

We used to do simulations in the vomit comet, but that gets expensive.

teuthis1 karma

Ever hear of Kerbal Space Program?

SilentWolfjh1 karma

Yes, watched my friends play it. I refrain from downloading it.

CanadianVelociraptor1 karma

Computer Science major here; I've always wondered, how many programmers work at NASA? How easy/hard would it be to get a job (or internship) writing code for a NASA project? I imagine there is a lot of scrutiny for potential programmers, since they need to develop code that runs on very expensive equipment.

There was a post on the front page recently where a little boy wrote in to NASA and they sent him some stuff back, including a NASA sticker. I thought the sticker was really cool and I would love to have one, do you know where I could get one? Are they sold to the public anywhere, or would I have to write them a letter? ;)

EDIT: Link to the sticker. I just like collecting interesting stickers and putting them on my laptop to boost my nerd-cred :)

SilentWolfjh0 karma

So, I'm aware of a few computer science majors currently working there although I have no clue what they are doing (I'm sure it's super neat). CS is a huge field that basically everyone is looking for so I'm sure you wouldn't have trouble finding something here.

Check out this link: http://intern.nasa.gov posted by /u/NASASocial

There are a ton of opportunities you can read about and apply for.

Also, I'll check the NASA guest center/gift shop at our center for that sticker ;)

AriettaAbyss1 karma

Sorry that this is so late, I'll be thrilled if you reply! I've been filling out OSSI and have been receiving emails for opportunities I'm really interested in but can't figure out how to save them... When I look at my application it says there are zero opportunities available under the "My opportunities" tab, but this can't be right since I've been receiving many emails with them. These emails don't have any links either.

Congrats on the internship, I bet it was great. I really need help here so if you respond I'd be so grateful!

SilentWolfjh1 karma

Hi there!

So the emails you are receiving are simply listing opportunities available for you to apply to. This is true if the subject line of the email reads "NASA - opportunity search results". That means you can find those internships when you go click the "search opportunities" tab in the ossi site.

Once you enter your search criteria and start applying, all the positions you applied for will start getting listed under the "My opportunities" tab, under the "My opportunities" sub-tab. And once you get an offer (I hope you do) you will get an email telling you about it. You would then go to the ossi site under the "My opportunities" tab there will be a sub-tab saying "My offers." You would go there to accept them.

I hope that clears things up.

Ataraxia271 karma

You wouldn't happen to have just had a mid term PowerPoint presentation yesterday, would you?

SilentWolfjh1 karma

I have no idea what you are talking about....


Andy_Glib1 karma

RE the flame test thing:

How tall is the air shaft?

How is air resistance blocked? Is the tube a vacuum and the little device pressurized or something?

Are there cameras onboard or something? At first I was picturing some kind of tiny rig, but I suppose it could be bigger than a breadbox?

SilentWolfjh1 karma

There are two shafts at GRC. One is a 500 ft deep (yes, it goes underground) shaft that is vacuumed out for a 5 second drop. The test rig is then pressurized and setup in a bus (looks like a crayon) and dropped. The bus is pretty big, 3 ft at the widest and 8 ft tall?

The other shaft is 80 ft tall for a 2.2 second drop. The rigs for this are setup in a drag shield that looks like a rounded wedge. It prevent the air from rushing in and blowing at the flame while the flame just uses the static air around it to burn. Here is a picture I found of one on google: http://facilities.grc.nasa.gov/drop/images/1994_05818_M.jpg

Andy_Glib1 karma

Wow! That's really nifty. How does it stop without obliterating itself? 5 second free fall might be fun if you don't take massive damage at the bottom, no?

SilentWolfjh1 karma

Haha, silly me. I forgot to mention it's cushioned by a 20 ft deep pool of Styrofoam beads.

The shorter one uses an airbag.

I_want_a_TARDIS1 karma

How long does it take to evacuate the shaft? Or is there some sort of airlock so that not the whole thing hast to be evacuated after inserting the rig?

EDIT: Are the shafts only used for experiments with flames or also for other kinds of zero gravity experiments?

SilentWolfjh2 karma

The bus is loaded at the top of the shaft and then it is evacuated. It takes about an hour to take out the air.

As far as I know, it has only been used for flame experiments.

Diasramo1 karma

I plan on taking a Mechanical Engineering degree in University and tbh working at NASA would make me feel like i truly made it in my field. Is that what it felt like to you when you got your internship? And i know this may not be your field but what kind of work do the mech engineers do over there?

SilentWolfjh1 karma

When I got the internship I felt truly happy and that I got somewhere important in my field. Mech engineers do a whole bunch of stuff here at GRC.

They can do research, testing, analysis, code work in a diverse range of categories. You could work in wind tunnels, engine work, flame analysis, re-entry vehicles, rover research. It's a really big list.

IndyJonesy1 karma

What is the coolest thing you have seen/done an how does one get an internship at NASA?

SilentWolfjh3 karma

You can get an internship from here: http://intern.nasa.gov

I've seen some wind tunnel tests and some microgravity tests. I've also worked with dangerously large amounts of voltage. I dunno what the coolest thing is though ....

drambox071 karma

Is there a Mechatronics field involved with NASA? The most I hear are Electrical, Mechanical, and Aerospace majors that work with the NASA program.

SilentWolfjh1 karma

Considering it is a combination of fields I would imagine it is although I haven't heard of any before.

onceugoblue1 karma

In relation to funding what would it take for projects to be funded through crowdfunding using sites such as Kickstarter? I recently did a paper for an English class regarding additional funding for NASA.

I proposed that perhaps a consensus should be formed to establish which projects are needed to reach an agreed upon goal. This is very similar to Aldrin's Unified Space Vision whereupon he provides an overall goal and a framework of projects needed to reach said goal. These projects could then be put on Kickstarter and interested individuals could invest into the project. Any shortfalls in funding could be acquired through traditional means. My guess though is NASA could do a lot more with the publics help.

SilentWolfjh0 karma

hmmm, im not sure. Most projects range in the millions to billions of dollars so funding would be hard.

I think /u/NASAsocial would have a better answer for you.

shastasaurus1 karma

Date on letter: July 8, 2013. Date internship started: June 3, 2013.


SilentWolfjh2 karma

someone else mentioned this earlier. I explained that it was a word document that probably updated itself. I'll update with more proof.

1--1 karma


SilentWolfjh1 karma

Yes, I attend Case Western Reserve University.

1--1 karma


SilentWolfjh1 karma

I remember doing technology in society, that one was easy and fun.

There is a food sages course that is super easy too. Life of Mind courses are interesting sometimes. This reminds me, I need to make my sages portfolio. Thanks!

SealskinTaxi1 karma

Why was the letter dated today if the project started June 3rd?

SilentWolfjh2 karma

Interesting, i didnt notice that. I pulled up the letter on word and took a snapshot when I was posting this, maybe word edited it to today's date?

SealskinTaxi1 karma

That seems pretty unprofessional of NASA. Surely they would of sent a PDF. I know Word is janky but I've never seen it change anything on a document. Especially when it should of been opened as "view only."

SilentWolfjh1 karma

Most of the documents I actually had to sign came in pdf's through mail. Here is the email they sent me with the acceptance letter and more in case you were curious.


Bongfu1 karma

Hey Silentwolf :D

What facility do you work at?

SilentWolfjh2 karma

Hey Bongfu!

Glenn Research Center (GRC) in Cleveland.

Bongfu1 karma

Damn, I was hoping you would be at the JPL or Johnson. Though they don't do much research at Johnson do they... or any at all.

SilentWolfjh1 karma

Shoot, I wish I was at JPL. Propulsion is one of my favorite topics. I'm pretty sure Johnson has some research, they have the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES). Not sure how big they are with interns.

Djrussc-7 karma

Are you straight or gay?

SilentWolfjh12 karma


Andy_Glib-3 karma

Are you straight AND gay?

SilentWolfjh5 karma

No and yes.

mebutdrunk-10 karma


Off_Topic_Oswald8 karma

i dont think you underst......................should we tell him?

SilentWolfjh3 karma

its the whole "geraffe" situation all over again.