Navigation Links
Small satellite takes on large thunderstorms
Date:11/17/2008

Firefly, it's called, this new small satellite mission sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). It's designed to help solve the mystery of the most powerful natural particle accelerator in Earth's atmosphere: TGFs, or terrestrial gamma-ray flashes. TGFs likely result from thunderstorms.

The mission is the second project under the new NSF CubeSat program. A CubeSat satellite, about the size of a loaf of bread, consists of three cubes attached end to end in a rectangular shape.

The Firefly team is a collaboration of scientists and students at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.; Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y.; Universities Space Research Association, Columbia, Md.; Hawk Institute for Space Science, Pocomoke City, Md.; and University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, Md.

"Integrating innovative and creative educational efforts with front-line research is what NSF is all about," said NSF Deputy Director Kathie L. Olsen. "The new CubeSat program uses the transformational technology of CubeSats to do just that. The Firefly mission is a terrific example of a program that will pursue scientific discovery, while providing unique and inspiring educational opportunities."

TGFs are short, powerful bursts of gamma rays emitted into space from Earth's upper atmosphere. The gamma rays are thought to be emitted by electrons traveling at or near the speed of light when they are slowed down by interaction with atoms in the upper atmosphere. These events may occur much more often than realized and may be associated with a significant fraction of the roughly 60 lightning strokes per second that occur worldwide. They could have a large effect on the upper atmosphere and near-Earth space, scientists say.

Build-up of electric charge at the tops of thunder clouds from lightning discharges can create a large electric field between the tops of clouds and the ionosphere, the outer layer of Earth's atmosphere. But how this might lead to the generation of these extremely energetic electrons is not well understood.

"This mission could provide the first direct evidence for the relationship between lightning and TGFs, and addresses an important research question in atmospheric electricity," said Anne-Marie Schmoltner, head of NSF's Atmospheric Sciences Division's Lower Atmosphere Research Section. "Identifying the source of terrestrial gamma ray flashes would be a great step toward fully understanding the physics behind lightning and its effect on the Earth's atmosphere." To accomplish these goals, Firefly will carry a gamma-ray detector along with a suite of instruments to detect lightning.

Students will be involved in all aspects of the project, from design and development, through fabrication and test, to mission operations and data analysis.


'/>"/>

Contact: Cheryl Dybas
cdybas@nsf.gov
703-292-7734
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Nanoparticles in the home: More and smaller than previously detected
2. Networks of small habitat patches can preserve urban biodiversity
3. Studies of small water fleas help ecologists understand population dynamics
4. When particles are so small that they seep right through skin
5. Exciting new companies at NJITs small biz incubator get 100K in grants
6. Exciting new companies at NJITs small biz incubator get 100K in lrants
7. Americas smallest dinosaur uncovered
8. High blood pressure takes big toll on small filtering units of the kidney
9. In spiders, size matters: Small males are more often meals
10. Photos reveal Myanmars large and small predators
11. Pay attention! Small packages may lead to overeating
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/15/2016)...  A new partnership announced today will help ... in a fraction of the time it takes ... life insurance policies to consumers without requiring inconvenient ... Diagnostics, rapid testing (A1C, Cotinine and HIV) and ... weight, pulse, BMI, and activity data) available at ...
(Date:4/13/2016)... April 13, 2016  IMPOWER physicians supporting Medicaid patients ... a new clinical standard in telehealth thanks to a ... the higi platform, IMPOWER patients can routinely track key ... body mass index, and, when they opt in, share ... visit to a local retail location at no cost. ...
(Date:3/29/2016)... 29, 2016 LegacyXChange, Inc. (OTC: ... and SelectaDNA/CSI Protect are pleased to announce our successful ... a variety of writing instruments, ensuring athletes signatures against ... collectibles from athletes on LegacyXChange will be assured of ... DNA. Bill Bollander , CEO states, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 Houston Methodist Willowbrook ... Cy-Fair Sports Association to serve as their official ... Houston Methodist Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, athletic ... with association coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. ... Cy-Fair Sports Association and to bring Houston Methodist ...
(Date:6/23/2016)...  The Biodesign Challenge (BDC), a university competition that ... living systems and biotechnology, announced its winning teams at ... New York City . The teams, ... at MoMA,s Celeste Bartos Theater during the daylong summit. ... curator of architecture and design, and Suzanne Lee ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , ... June 23, 2016 , ... STACS DNA Inc., ... Leader at the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, has joined STACS DNA as a Field ... DNA team,” said Jocelyn Tremblay, President and COO of STACS DNA. “In further expanding ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016  Blueprint Bio, a company ... to the medical community, has closed its Series A ... Nunez . "We have received a commitment ... capital we need to meet our current goals," stated ... us the runway to complete validation on the current ...
Breaking Biology Technology: