2012 RID Awards

PROJECT: Fabrication of Multifunctional Nano-Sensors for Applications in Harsh Environments

PI: Nilima Hullavarad, Professor, UAF

Solar flares and solar radiation storms are space weather events that interrupt not only terrestrial wireless communications, but also space-based technologies such as satellites. During these solar flares, the sun emits extreme ultraviolet (EUV) output ranging in the 20-400 nm wavelengths. Precise determination of the radiation requires development of lightweight, single active material, low powered sensor platforms. EUV radiation also break atoms and molecules, creating layer of ions in the upper atmosphere that can affect the radio signals thus requiring the multifunctional sensors. Specifically, the instruments used include spectrographs – devices that break apart sunlight into different wavelengths – and photometers, which use a filter that selects a wavelength’s range and measures the spectrum.

This study will focus on fabrication of 1D and 2D nanostructures based multifunctional sensors that are well suited for harsh environment applications. The present proposal is a seed effort to develop long term research collaborations with NASA research centers on sensor development, testing and future grant proposals.

PROJECT: Improving Volcanic Ash Cloud Detection and Modeling

PI: Peter Webley, Assistant Professor, UAF

Volcanic ash is a major hazard to everyone from local communities to international air traffic. Traditionally, it has been observed from satellites using the reverse absorption method. The first step is to develop accurate ash concentrations by using the satellite thermal infrared data. Applying the volcanic ash retrieval technique will provide data of the ash mass per satellite pixel and, with a cloud thickness, for concentrations. The proposed work will focus on use of NASA Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) sensors. The volcanic ash loadings, particle sizes and concentrations will be compared to volcanic ash transport models. This will provide constraints on the particle size distributions in the retrievals; and data for the cloud thickness to transform ash loading to concentrations. Visits to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) will help to develop the retrievals and allow the project PI to work with JPL researchers.

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