All posts by hrdunne

Is It Gonna Blow? Measuring Volcanic Emissions from Space

DSC_0084 WEBCarbon dioxide measured by a NASA satellite pinpoints sources of the gas from human and volcanic activities, which may help monitor greenhouse gases responsible for climate change.

Late last month, a stratovolcano in Bali named Mount Agung began to smoke. Little earthquakes trembled beneath the mountain. Officials have since evacuated thousands of people to prevent what happened when Agung erupted in 1963, killing more than 1,000 people.

Before volcanoes erupt, there are often warning signs. Tiny earthquakes rarely felt by humans but sensed by seismographs emanate from the volcano. Plumes of water vapor rise from the crater. When the volcano begins to emit gases like carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide, eruption may be imminent.

But getting close to the top of a volcano is dangerous work. Using remote sensing to detect rising carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide emissions without endangering people or equipment would greatly increase human understanding of volcanoes. Remote sensing emissions could prevent humanitarian disasters—and false alarms. Read the full story on the Michigan Tech news website.

by Kelley Christensen



Yap Top Three Michigan Tech Startups among Accelerate Michigan Finalists

1507169170Three startup companies with Michigan Tech roots have been named semi-finalists in this year’s Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition.

Goldstrike Data, a big data analytics firm founded and headed by Michigan Tech alumna Ashley Kern ’15, was selected as one of 36 semi-finalists, as were StabiLux Biosciences (Novolux Biosciences) and Orbion Space Technology. StabiLux Biosciences( Novolux Biosciences) was founded by Yoke Khin Yap, a professor of physics at Tech, and Orbion Space Technology was founded by L. Brad King, the Ron and Elaine Starr Professor in Space Systems in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

The semi-finalists are innovative startups from a variety of high-growth sectors including advanced materials, manufacturing, alternative energy, business services, consumer products, information technology, life sciences/healthcare, media, mobility and more. On Nov. 16, 10 finalists will be selected and the winner will be chosen from among the finalists that night at the Detroit Masonic Temple. Since the competition’s inception, participating companies have generated more than 1,000 jobs in Michigan and raised more than $550 million in capital.

“We are extremely impressed with the diverse and creative entries that came to us from across the state and we’re excited to unveil an outstanding new crop of competitors,” said Martin Dober, vice president of Invest Detroit and managing director of Invest Detroit Ventures. “This competition has the potential to be life changing for these businesses. It is truly rewarding to help put promising young startups on a trajectory toward success.”

Each year, the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition showcases the startup innovation throughout Michigan and provides startups with the exposure, funding and mentorship they need. The first place company will win $500,000. The total value of all prizes is almost $1 million.


Air Force Funding

image64673-persMiguel Levy (Physics/MSE/CQP) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $82,445 research and development contract from the Air Force: Office of Scientific Research.

The project is titled “Materials Processing for Heterogeneous Integration of Optical Isolators: Phase 2.”

This is a two-year project.



New Funding

image98360-persimage153545-persPengfei Xue (CEE, left) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $104,168 research and development grant from NASA.

Mark Kulie (GMES/GLRC, right) is the Co-PI on the project, ” Evaluation and Advancing the Representation of Lake-Atmosphere Interactions and Resulting Heavy Lake-Effect Snowstorms across the Laurentian Great Lakes Basin Within the NASA-Unified Weather Research and Forecasting Model.”

This is the first year of a potential four-year project totaling $327,927.


Bo Zhang and Co-Authors Publish Paper on Long-Range Transport of Trace Gases

Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 8.10.50 AMBo Zhang (2015), currently a research scientist at the National Institute of Aerospace in Hampton, VA, and co-authors published a paper, “Ten-year chemical signatures associated with long-range transport observed in the free tropophere over the central North Atlantic” in Elementa Science of the Anthropocene Journal.

Ten years of observations of trace gases at Pico Mountain Observatory (PMO), a free troposphere site in the central North Atlantic, were classified by transport pattern using the Lagrangian particle dispersion model FLEXPART.

The classification enabled identification of trace gas mixing ratios associated with background air and long-range transport of continental emissions, which were defined as chemical signatures. Comparison between the chemical signatures revealed the impacts of natural and anthropogenic sources, as well as chemical and physical processes during long transport, on air composition in the remote North Atlantic.


Kostinski – In the News

Sun glints off atmospheric ice crystals (circled in red) in this view captured by NASA's EPIC instrument on NOAA's DISCOVR satellite.
Sun glints off atmospheric ice crystals (circled in red) in this view captured by NASA’s EPIC instrument on NOAA’s DISCOVR satellite.

One million miles from Earth, a NASA camera is capturing unexpected flashes of light reflecting off our planet, and Alex Kostinski has helped identify them as ice particles high in the atmosphere. NASA, Health Medicine Net and Astrobiology Web have published news stories about the phenomena and the research.

Visit here, here and here.

Scientific American and Nature magazine reported on Kostinski’s  research that helped NASA solve the mystery of flashes of light appearing over land, which turned out to be ice crystals high in the atmosphere. See the full story here.


Physics Student Kelci Mohrman Receives Honorable Mention

GRFP_logoKelci Mohrman received honorable mention from the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP), one of the oldest and most competitive programs in the nation.

Pushpalatha Murthy, dean of Michigan Tech’s Graduate School says, “Being a recipient of the Graduate Research Fellowship or Honorable Mention status in this very prestigious competition speaks to the high caliber of our students and the dedication they have for both intellectual pursuits and serving society. The NSF-GRFP is unique in that it emphasizes commitment to both intellectual inquiry and service to society and are looking to support individuals who have the potential to be high achieving scientists and engineers as well as have a broader impact on society. These awards are a well-deserved recognition of the superior accomplishments of our students and the quality and dedication of Michigan Tech faculty, staff and programs. Crafting a winning proposal is a lot of effort and I want to congratulate the students for their accomplishments and thank the dedication and passion of the faculty and staff who helped them. I look forward to great contributions for our students.”

THE NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions.

Mohrman recently participated in the Undergraduate Research Symposium.